Meet Cam, King of The Trail Cam!
By Tomos Williams
A black bear adjust the position of one of Cam’s cameras (Video: Cam Dressel)
At NatureSpy we enjoy keeping up with the latest in camera trapping goings-on. This involves keeping a keen eye out for talented camera trappers who capture beautiful images of animals and share the secret world of the wilderness.
Cameron Dressel of Virginia, USA, is a budding camera trapper whose exciting activity we couldn’t ignore! The videos and pictures on his twitter feed have been intriguing us and his followers for years and we felt we had to get in touch to get to know him a little better and find out what made him take up this hobby;
“I have always been fascinated with nature, and like taking hikes and exploring in the woods.” explains Cam. “I had heard of trailcams as they are called here and finally purchased one January 2013. Camera trapping has since become a hobby and it makes the hikes more interesting.”
As a skilled camera trapper, Cam exhibits a keen eye for not only likely trails but also for scenery which creates a picturesque product when framed “When I set up the cameras I’m always looking for the combination of capturing the animal with an interesting background at the same time.”
Curiosity and intrigue have led him to beauty spots near and far from his home near the mountains to capture the best footage. “I’m very fortunate to have access to the area in the pictures you see. I would have to say I find the old abandoned homes and structures very interesting. I can’t really say I have a favourite place, it seems that when I find a new unique area it becomes my favourite for the next couple of months.”
For many people, camera trapping has allowed them to appreciate a world that humans rarely see; accessing this secretive world often makes people feel more connected to their environment, as Cameron recalls his favourite capture – “Probably my first bobcat – that was August 2013. I’ve never seen a bobcat in the wild and probably never will, but I routinely get them on the camera traps.”
Bobcat at the creek (Video: Cam Dressel)
One thing that fascinates us here at NatureSpy is the number of large predators Cameron captures on his cameras. I asked Cameron if he ever worries about encounters while alone in the wild; “Apparently the bobcats, coyotes, and bears are there and close by as the camera traps indicate. I’ve never seen a coyote or a bobcat – my guess is they hear me and avoid me.
“I’ve seen a black bear twice and both times they didn’t want anything to do with me. I keep a safe distance, make plenty of noise and avoid getting any closer to them.
“I also keep a can of bear pepper spray on my belt just in case. I’m most concerned with rattle snakes and other poisonous snakes – I saw my first rattle snake last summer and that was a wakeup call.” – A brave man!
Have you ever witnessed predation by these big predators, on camera or off it? “No. But my guess is the camera will eventually. The only predation I’ve captured is of herons catching snakes.”
Prey, predators and predation by the creek (Video: Cam Dressel)
NatureSpy’s camera’s have seen hedgehogs battling and foxes dancing, have you ever caught any funny events on camera? “The funny events that I can recall are animal interactions with the camera. Deer and turkey will be curious then get startled. Bears and raccoons seem to find the camera all lot and sniff it and move it around.”
White-tail deer mother and fawn (Video: Cam Dressel)
Is there one dream project that’s on your bucket list?
“Well one happened last week – I posted it on twitter – that was a bear and her young cubs, that’s a first. Another would be a bald eagle; I occasionally see them soaring above but have yet to capture one.”
What are your top tips for budding camera trappers out there?
“Get familiar with programming your camera trap first by setting them up in the back yard or even in the house and activating it yourself or with a pet. Once you set it up for wildlife you can bait the area, for instance – with bird seed. But not too much or you will get hundreds of pictures of squirrels or some other animal that you didn’t necessarily set out to capture.
“If you’re trying to capture something that is elusive, have patience and leave the camera set up for a week at a time before checking it.”