Before trail cameras, the day-to-day lives of wild critters were largely mysteries to most of us. But now, thanks to the latest cams, we can spy on game 24/7 to uncover secret animal behavior that was once totally hidden from hunters. Who knew, for example, that whitetail bucks spend so much of their time getting pumpkins, buckets, and other random objects stuck in their antlers?
What else to deer, turkeys, coyotes, cougars, and monkeys (yes, monkeys) get up to? See for yourself in this updated collection of shocking, funny, and just plain weird trail-cam pics.
1. Beach-Ball Bruiser
This buck seems to be either working a licking branch or trying to get a better look a the thing stuck in his antlers—and thinking, What? A beach ball?! How did that get there?
2. Pining for the Fields
Wow, this buck fell dead right in front of the hunter’s trail-cam. What are the odds? Well, low enough that it’s not actually what is going on here. This buck is just taking a nap. “I have several pictures of him coming in multiple nights and laying here,” says Brian Salmons, who submitted the photo.
3. Fired Up
Forest fires are a common hazard for western whitetails. This Idaho doe was captured on camera right on the edge of a large burn.
4. Listen, Girlfriend
This photo from Kentucky hunter Bobby Wilson seems to show one doe putting her arm around another, as if to say, “Don’t worry, Hun. We’ll get our turn.” Isn’t that sweet? Well, no. The doe on the left is actually giving the one on the right a nice, swift kick to work out dibs on the corn.
Not sure what’s going on here, but we’ll keep it PG. Maybe they were just trying to get a new perspective on things.
6. Monkey Business
This was taken in Tennessee. Your guess is as good as ours.
7 & 8. High Jump
Planning to fence out your food plots to keep the deer out until hunting season. Good idea. But if these photos submitted by Blake Vanover (top) and Robert William Gates are any indication, you may want to rethink the height of your fence.
9. Flying Squirrel
This doesn’t look like an actual flying squirrel, but if it ever wanted to be, it got its wish. The hawk was happy to oblige no doubt.
10. Death Grip
We know that cougars are capable of taking down adult big game, but it’s rarely captured on a trail camera. That’s a big-bodied deer too.
Related: The Best Cellular Trail Cameras
11. Mad Hops
This coyote was hoping for a turkey dinner, but he couldn’t quite jump high enough. Impressive try, though.
12. Fast Food
This big cat was captured mid-sprint while trying run down a mule deer doe. We don’t know who won the race, but our money is on the one with the long tail.
13. Oh Sh*t!
There are two ways to look at this one. Either he turned around and was surprised to find a camera there. Or he knew all along and is thinking, Get a picture of this, as he takes a dump in your mineral lick.
14. That’s Mine!
Submitted by Ken Smith, this November tail-cam shot shows a coyote marking its territory. That stump is his, and no one else can have it.
15. Pain in the Neck
Some buck fights get serious, as this photo from Jacob Blackburn proves. Here, we see a buck with an antler that’s broken off in its neck. Might take a while to shed that one.
16 & 17. Fawn Feast
Coyote predation on whitetail fawns was once thought to be insignificant, but the latest research shows otherwise. This is why the fawn drop is synchronized—so that a large number of newborn deer overwhelms predators’ ability to get too many of them, ensuring that some will to survive into adulthood.
18. Racoon for Dinner
Coyotes rarely prey on raccoons because the latter are generally too mean to mess with and often travel in packs. This one, clearly, was an exception.
19 & 20. Staring Contests
Too bad these cameras weren’t on video mode so we could find out who blinked first in these standoffs between lone coyotes and bucks.
21. Bloody Mess
If you need more proof that buck fights can get serious, this ought to do it. It looks like this warrior may have gotten the worst of one, as its head and neck are covered in blood. On the other hand, whitetails are incredibly tough; he’ll probably be back working that big rub on the right in no time.
22 & 23. Crossing Over
Why get your feet wet if you don’t have to?
24. Crypto Tank
This is most likely a cryptorchid buck, which is one that never shed its velvet (or antlers). This is a true rarity in the wild.
25. Truck Bucks
Maybe they think it’s a getaway vehicle. “Get in the truck, Stan. There’s someone watching us.”
26. Baloo Bruin
Nothing like relaxing around the campfire. For the moment, at least, this bear does seem to have forgotten about his worries and his strife.
27 & 28. Ghost Bucks
Filtered sunlight paints a ghost’s face on the buck above. As for the image below, well-known whitetail hunter Dan Infalt says the camera was located behind the home of a family that went missing. Once he saw the photo, he had it analyzed by an expert who said the camera flash lit up some dust particles. But neither of them could deny the skull-shaped orbs. When you blow up the image, you can even see teeth. Pretty creepy.
29. Head Pieces
Apparently, this Indiana buck had these pieces of plastic stuck to his head for a while, as hunter Taylor Early found them lying just a few yards from the deer’s antlers during shed season.
30. The Other, Other White Meat
Only about 1 in 100,000 wild turkeys are albinos.
31. Ghost Deer
This fawn is probably leucistic. If it were albino, its nose and eyes would most likely look more pink. Either way, any all-white whitetail is a sight to see in the wild.
32. Bobcat Bait
Bobcats almost never take down full-grown whitetails, but they can kills fawns and even the occasional yearling, as seems to be the case in this photo.
The question is, did this hen just happen to be walking bye (Dude! Really?) or did this coyote really, really have to go?
34. Bucket Head
Maybe he wanted something to catch acorns in.
35. Strike a Pose
Hard to say exactly what is going on here. Either this buck knows how pretty he is and decided to strike a pose for the camera, or we caught him in the middle of his scrape dance.
36. Strength In Numbers
Bobcats will target adult deer, especially small does, but this one apparently couldn’t be bothered with a whole parade of them.
37. Piggyback Ride?
This fawn was born so small, it had to ride on its mother’s back. Okay, not really. Of course, the fawn is in the distance and standing in just the right spot to create the illusion.
38. Up a Tree
Maybe you knew that some foxes can climb trees. But have you ever seen one do it? Now you have, thanks to this trail-cam shot submitted by Josh Jewell.
39. C’mon, You Three
You don’t often see a whitetail doe with triplets. It’s even rarer to see one keep all three fawns alive for any length of time. But this one did.
40. Blondie Song Dog
Color-phase coyotes are also rare, especially one as blond as this.
41. Swing Low
Something is very wrong with this buck’s right antler. It must have been damaged during the growing process. I never saw the buck again after this photo.
42. Klingon Queen
This old doe has the biggest Roman nose I’ve ever seen. She’s been on my farm for nearly 10 seasons, and I hope she made it through the most recent one.
43. Does Duke It Out
Hooves are flying. These two does are working out who is the real matriarch of the group.
44. Unicorn Buck
This deer grew only half a rack. The other side remained a stub all season.
45. Four Against One
Coyotes often hunt alone, but they do so in packs, too. In this shot sent in by Matthew Wyckoff, a young buck tries to fend off four coyotes.
46. Bobcat Bait, Revisited
This trail-camera photo, submitted by Matt Jenkins, shows a bobcat stalking a whitetail doe at a bait pile. This was the final photo with both animals in the frame, so he’s not sure how it ended.
47. Spike the Punch Bowl
Most people know not to pee where they drink, but this doe didn’t get the memo. The heron probably isn’t thrilled either.
48: Cat Vs. Dog
Bobcats and coyotes rarely fight. Each knows the other is a formidable foe. Here, it looks like they almost came to blows, though—and that the bobcat had the upper hand.
49. Climb On In
Seems like you just can’t teach manners to bucks these days. In this trail-cam shot from Steve Plylar, a buck is climbing up into a feed trough to grab a bite to eat. “Guess he likes putting all his hooves on the dinner table,” Plylar said.
50. Camera Thief
So, what do all these critters think of getting their pictures taken? This photo might be an answer. Either the coyote is very intelligent and doesn’t want hunters knowing it’s around. Or it’s very, very intelligent and wants a little payback.