Thursday, 12 June 2014 09:09

Trail Cameras

Josh Checking trail camAs summer quickly approaches I’ve got three things on my mind. Barbecues, beach and BUCKS!!! Yup, that’s right, BUCKS! The hunting season is still four months away, but the bucks are starting to grow antlers and I want to watch them grow and keep tabs on them. This is where the use of trail cameras come in to play. Trail cameras are becoming more and more popular as hunters and hunting clubs practice quality deer management. They’re not only useful in monitoring your antler growth and ultimately what bucks you would like to shoot, but also helping you determine the number of deer on your property. Working with your fellow club members or even with a local game biologist, you can determine your harvest numbers each year and keep your deer herd healthy based off of the carrying capacity of your property, but that’s a whole other blog discussion.

 

 

I don’t get too aggressive with my trail camera positioning during the summer months. High travel routes to and from a bedding area or a water source that creates the least amount of intrusion on my part is where I like to start. In WV and the parts of VA where I hunt, the use of ‘enticement’ or ‘bait’ is illegal even for running trail cameras so I have to be smart about where I put them in order to see as many of my deer as often as possible. Anywhere on a field edge where heavily used trails are coming into the field is a great spot especially since you can drive your ATV, tractor or truck right up WV Buckto the camera. I guess that’s the lazy way out, but I put enough miles on my boots during hunting season so work smarter, not harder like my dad always said.

 

 

There are so many options when it comes to buying a trail camera, but from my experience the following features are important to me. Burst Mode: Making sure your trail camera will shoot in burst mode is a must. A deer could be walking through your setup or on a trail and having two or even three pictures of the same deer will get you the shot you need to determine its size, possible age and SD Cards & AA Batterieshow many points he may have. Memory cards have come way down in price so get something 4GB or larger and you can take a lot of photos without having to check the camera as often. Video Mode: I love running my trail cameras on video mode, especially on scrapes or big rubs during the hunting season when I know a buck is using these areas to mark his territory or track down does. These 10, 15 or even 30 second video clips are fun to watch and can really tell you some cool characteristics about your deer. Field Scan or Plot Mode: I’m a big fan of Dr. Grant Bresser trail camWoods and Bill Winke. These guys live off of field scan throughout the summer months and sometimes even during the hunting season. Positioning a camera 8 to 10 feet (or higher) off the ground overlooking a field can help you determine where deer are coming/going to and from the field and at what time. This information becomes extremely helpful during the hunting season and will show you where to position your stand or blind in an excellent ambush spot. AA Batteries: I can tell you from experience that the cameras that use the D or C batteries don’t last very long in the elements. I’ve had a few cameras that used each of these power sources and by far the AA battery operated cameras are definitely the way to go. With one of my trail cameras, I was able to go a full 8.5 months off of one set (8) of AA batteries. I had it set to burst mode and it was in a heavily used area which resulted in a lot of pictures and I was very pleased with the results. If you wanna save some coin in the long run, purchase the rechargeable batteries and you’ll have months if not years of use out of those batteries and your camera.

 

 

WV BearNo matter what trail camera you choose to buy, I hope these few tips help make your choice easier. There are a lot of good cameras on the market ranging as low as $99 to as much as $600, but if you look for these features in your next camera, I promise you’ll have a blast looking at the photos or watching the short video clips. They provide excellent insight into your hunting areas and show you things you may have never even known were there.

 

 

Good luck & Shoot em’ straight!

 

Josh

Published in The Blog
Thursday, 17 April 2014 09:43

Bleaching A Deer Skull

Removing meat before boilingI got a text message from a buddy of mine late last deer season asking me if I still messed with doing European mounts for folks. I’ve done a few of these for myself, but mostly for other people for a number of years now. I really didn’t have the time, but he’s a good friend so I said ‘sure’ and he said ‘Good, cause it’s already in your garage…LOL’. There are many ways to display your trophy, but I have to tell you, I really like the look of the European mount. If it’s not a giant buck that you’re going to spend the money to shoulder mount, a European mount looks awesome (for any size buck) and you can put it anywhere… with your wife’s permission. I’ve already completed the work on my friend’s deer head, but I still had one from my dad that I told him I would do for him. I’ve been pretty busy with work and my son’s baseball team, but I recently cleaned out my garage for spring and knew it was now or never on this deer skull. I thought this would be a good blog post to show you how I clean them and bleach them so I went ahead and filmed the whole experience. It’s not as hard as you think and doesn’t take all that long, plus it actually saves you quite a bit of money by just doing it yourself. 

 

I got bored while it boiled! LOLFirst things first, I remove the head from the spinal column. You can feel (with your knife) and see where the spine attaches to the back of the head and where all the nerves and vessels make their way into the brain cavity.  Carefully cut those nerves, vessels and connective tissue until the only thing you’re holding is the head. After removing the head, I skin it out and remove the lower jaw along with the tongue and as much of the chunky meat around the ear and nasal areas as possible. It’s not extremely important to work a long time during this phase, but while I’m already bloody and have it in front of me I just get rid of the bigger chunks. You can remove the eyes here if you wish, but the next step helps make that a lot easier before boiling. After the initial prep work I soak the skull for a month or more in just a 5 gallon buck of water. The bacteria in the water (after it sits for a while) will actually help you out as it starts to break down the remaining meat and connective tissue. This can get a little smelly as the days and weeks go on so for as long as you can take it, let it sit. I recommend at least 30 days, but I’ve had great success with letting it soak for 60 days or more (obviously in my garage and not my basement). If the smell becomes unbearable, I’ve even dumped half the bucket of water out and filled it back up with fresh water. The bacteria are still in the water from the portion you left, but the fresh water will get rid of the smell (at least for a while). 

 My boil pot


Cleaning off the cooked meatOnce you’re ready to boil the skull, go ahead and get your pot and your burner ready to go. I DO NOT use a pot from my wife’s kitchen. That’s how they say ‘the fight got started’! I actually went out to Wal-Mart and bought my own and this is the only thing I use it for. I use a turkey fryer propane base to heat my pot of water and I mix in a good bit of dish soap. This helps degrease the bone and helps the meat come right off (usually a lot of it in the boil pot). While the water is heating up, I throw on a pair of latex gloves and remove the eyes and any other pieces of meat I can. Once the water comes to a boil, turn down the heat just to maintain that constant slow boil and place your deer skull in. Covering up the base of the antlers with boiling water is OK. I was worried about this when I first started, but it’s no big deal. It’s difficult to save any pieces of tree where the deer was rubbing simply because of the steam from the boiling pot. You can try, but it’s more work than it’s really worth to me. Boil your skull for a good 30-40 minutes. Keep the water at a slow boil by adjusting your temperature. Stay nearby because if the water boils over it will put out your flame. This has happened multiple times to me. LOL If you’ve soaked the head as suggested above, this first boil will help you remove a good 80% of the meat and tissue.

Watching & Waiting


Looking pretty goodAfter your first boil, remove the head and quickly start working on removing the pieces of meat that have cooked. Be careful because it will be hot so wear some old work or butchering gloves. Tools that come in handy are needle nose pliers, flat screw driver, putty knife, a sharp knife and small wire brushes. Sensitive/thin areas in the bone and cartilage are the nasal cavity, tear duct/gland and the inside part of the eye sockets. If you’re not careful you can easily puncture a hole in these areas and not necessarily ruin the mount, but you’ll have a hole where you really shouldn’t. It’s a fairly nasty, smelly and difficult job to do, but after this first boil you’ll need to stick something up inside the brain cavity and give it a good stir. I use the bottom of a tomato cage that I cut off and bent a hook on the end. It works GREAT! After you’ve gotten as much as you can off during the first round, take a garden hose with fairly good pressure and spray out the brain and nasal cavities and give it a good spray down all over.  Put it back in the boil pot for another 20 minutes and repeat these steps until you’ve cleaned every piece of meat off the skull. I’ve rarely had to boil it more than twice using the ‘soak method’. That really seems to help break everything Hanging out to drydown to where it just ‘falls off the bone’. 

 


Applying the bleaching creamAfter you’ve hosed it down one last time to make sure everything is clean, hang it up and let it dry completely. At this point, it can still smell a little so I wouldn’t recommend drying it in the house. After it’s completely dry, it’s time to paint on the bleaching agent. In the past, I’ve used the basic peroxide that mom used to put on my cuts and scrapes and it would burn the crap out of me! Most recently, I’ve used the 40 Volume Crème Developer that salons use to dye hair. I use the cream instead of the liquid because it’s easier to paint on the skull and it doesn’t run down on the teeth (which I like to keep looking ‘normal’ instead of bleach white). Another tip for this phase is DO NOT get any cream on the antlers. It will bleach anything it touches and you want your antlers to stay their natural color. After a good layer of cream has been painted on, let it sit for 24 hours to soak up the peroxide solution and bleach the skull. If it’s a nice sunny day, I’ll hang the skull out in the sun and this helps it bleach out even more. You can repeat this step until it’s reached your desired bleach color. Some skulls vary, but most that I’ve done only require two coats of the solution.

Bleaching overnight

 

After the bleaching process is complete, spray it down with the garden hose one last time to remove the peroxide solution and wipe it down with an old rag or towel and let it hang dry overnight. You’ve now completed the European mount and can display it in several different ways with many different mounts they sell on the market. It’s a lot of fun and very rewarding to shoot, process and preserve your trophy. Next time you harvest a nice buck that you’re not going to shoulder mount, give this a try and I’m confident you’ll be pleased with the results!

Shoot ‘em Straight!

~Josh

 Finished skull

 

 

 

Published in The Blog
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 15:24

Film Your Hunt

Film Your Hunt

It wasn’t long ago that I started developing an interest in filming my hunts and started laying down footage from my own adventures. I guess you could say that outdoor television and hunting DVDs sold me on the fact that…’I can buy a camera and do that myself’! It all started, for me, with just a simple video camera mounted on my bow. I had a blast recording squirrels, birds, deer and other forest dwellers in their natural habitat and undisturbed state. It wasn’t professional, high quality footage with great audio, but it was mine. These were my adventures on film and I could do anything with them or show them toSmall HD camera on Bow mount anyone I wanted. Taking that footage back home and watching it on my computer or TV was and still is a blast. I didn’t have to harvest something that day to be excited about reviewing the footage. Just being able to enjoy the outdoors and then play it back to enjoy it again is something I love to do and something I enjoy sharing with my kids. I began playing around with the footage and editing it with some simple software to show my friends and family and I even got up enough nerve to upload some of those videos to YouTube. It was just another fun and interesting way to share my adventures. Simply learning and experimenting with filming my hunts landed me the opportunity to meet our producer, Mike Price, and eventually join the team here at SVO. My arsenal of camera gear for filming my own hunts has grown from one small HD camera mounted on my bow to a ‘prosumer’ style camera running off of a camera arm or tripod and a couple of second presence POV (point of view) cameras. I told my wife that I was buying these cameras not only for hunting, but for family events and to help ‘saver the memories as our children grew’. (Pretty slick huh?) Now most of our ‘family’ cameras are wrapped in camo and have multiple adapters for tree arms, fluid heads, tripods and other filming platforms. Heck, some of my older tripods have even been painted or taped to help me stay concealed while using them in the field. LOL

 

GoPro Angle from TreestandThinking about all that I have gone through with learning new techniques and experimenting with different filming gear, I know there are others out there in our viewing audience who share the same passion as I do for this stuff. At one of our production meetings, I pitched the idea to the guys about having a viewer driven ‘Film Your Hunt’ segment on the show. This would give YOU the opportunity to share your hunt with us. This would give us the excitement of watching another fellow outdoorsman or woman fill a tag or film someone else filling their tag. So that’s what we’re gonna do. Here’s your chance to show us what you’ve got! Your deer, bear, turkey, hog, etc. hunt could be edited by our production company and appear on SVOutdoors this fall. We will review the raw/unedited footage you submit to us and select the cream of the crop to fill our 13 slots for season 2. (Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information on submitting your footage.) If you already film your hunts, then you have a leg up, but if you’re interested in getting started, I’m going to talk a little about some of the equipment you’ll need and some of the things I’ve learned over the past few years of doing this. Once again, I’m not a professional! This is what works for me and these are my opinions.

 

 

Wanna Buy A Camera?Canon HF G30

First and foremost, it’s important to have a good Full HD video camera. I’m not going to recommend that everyone who wants to do this run out and spend $1,500 on camera gear. For one, that’s not in everyone’s budget and for two, it’s simply not necessary to spend that kind of money to have a decent filming setup. There are many affordable cameras on the market now that will record in Full HD. Finding a camera that will record in Full HD is the easy part. Finding a camera that will record in Full HD and record good audio is a different story. Audio is very important to filming your hunt. If the audience can’t hear what you’re saying during your interviews or hear that turkey gobble from just over the ridge, it (to me) takes the emotion and excitement out of the footage. During post production, video can be edited or ‘fixed’ to an extent, but if you have poor audio, even the best footage becomes basically useless for television. Do some research before purchasing a camera. Make sure there are options for using some form of external mic (wireless or shotgun) and you’ll be happy you did. It’s also important that your camera has the ability for you to use manual focus. Leaves, branches, twigs, blades of grass and anything else between you and your target will quickly grab the attention of your auto focus and your footage will not turn out the way you desired. It takes some practice, but once you get the manual focus down with your equipment, your footage will be exciting to watch.

 

Camera Mounting Options

Canon on Tree ArmThe next thing I would recommend is to think about how you hunt. Are you mostly a treestand hunter? Do you mostly hunt out of box or ground blinds? Do you run & gun or spot & stalk? Do you hunt with other people who would be willing to film for you and you for them? Answering these simple questions will allow you to make your next gear purchase much easier. I’m talking about mounting options for your camera. Cameras can be mounted on a lot of different things. Camera arms for treestand setups, tripods for blinds or spot and stalk hunting or even camera ‘shelves’ for your gun or bow are readily available for purchase. Finding the right gear that fits your hunting style is the most important thing. I do highly recommend some form of camera stabilization. Trying to film freehand simply results in ‘herky-jerky’ footage that no one can hardly sit through without getting dizzy or changing the channel. Very few people have the steady hand it takes to not shake when that big buck is close or jerk when they’re surprised by the shot going off.Canon on Tripod

 

Protect Your Investment

After you have your main setup, the next most important thing is how you’re going to safely and securely pack your gear back to your favorite honey hole. Carrying camera gear along with our already full packs of calls, scents, extra clothing, etc. just adds more weight and takes up space. Securing your expensive camera gear is important to successfully filming your hunts over and over again. Be careful not to pack things to tightly. You may inadvertently turn something on and waste precious battery life or even storage space on your SD card. Just make sure you have a system and that you practice with your setup time and time again before you hit the woods. I can quietly get everything out of my packs and setup my camera arm, camera, shotgun mic and second presence cameras without a light in the mornings and when tearing down in the evenings. That’s important especially since these animals we hunt are already hard to kill.

Backpack for Gear 

Get Fancy With It & Be Creative

If you still have some coin in your pocket after your purchases of a camera, mounting system and pack, it’s time to start thinking about a second presence camera. This is usually a single or multiple set of cameras that are placed around your hunting setup. I personally like and utilize the GoPro series of cameras. These POV (point of view) cameras are great for second angles of the hunter’s setup or facing where the hunter expects that game will come from or go to. POVs around decoys are awesome and can produce some amazing footage as well. Having these second angles to addLANC Remote Controller to your footage really brings the viewer into your setup with you and simply can add some really cool shots to your final production. Back in the day, hunting teams would have to shoot ‘re-creates’ to add to their final production cuts. That’s why on some of the older hunting shows you’ll see guys pull their bows back with fewer arrows in the quiver, or they’re suddenly not wearing binoculars or a range finder, or they’re even shooting an arrow with a field tip on it instead of a broadhead. I’ve seen several mistakes in these re-creates by some of the top production teams in the industry. Having these multiple angles simply eliminates the need to go back and re-create shots. They capture everything from the emotion of the hunter to the reaction of the animal in real time just as it happened. They’re simply awesome to have and can be mounted in many different ways. Most of the POV cameras can be controlled by your smart phone or a separate remote. I know the GoPro Hero 3 series remote can control up to fifty (50), that’s right…fifty (50) different GoPro cameras. That’s a lot of angles and a lot of footage. J


Accessorize For Greater SuccessGoPro on Bow Hanger

Some accessories can be purchased later down the road if you really get serious about filming your hunts. I for one self-film some of my hunts and having a one arm/hand operation for my setup is key to my success playing both cameraman and hunter. A LANC controller or zoom remote can be added to certain cameras. This allows the cameraman or hunter to have all the controls of the camera by simply using his/her thumb. I can power on/off the camera, record, zoom and focus all with a single hand operation. Not to mention the minimal movement that is required to do all this with one hand instead of two. This becomes especially important when hunting from the ground down at eye level with our targeted game. Not all cameras support these types of remote control so before you purchase your camera, check on this option as well if you’re interested. There are a ton of accessories out there for outdoor filming so be creative and try something that you haven’t seen before. It just might turn out really cool and land you on the ‘Film Your Hunt’ segment on SVOutdoors this fall!

 

GoPro on TripodWOW! That was a lot of information and this has turned out to be a very long blog. I didn’t even touch on the world of DSLR cameras, but I think for the sake of this post, it wasn’t necessary. Sorry, but I can talk for hours about this stuff so after covering the equipment suggestions in this blog, come back next time and I’ll cover some tips and ideas for capturing footage that you can use to make an exciting hunt and tell your story. Until then…

Shoot ‘em straight! 

~Josh

Published in The Blog
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 19:16

Hello World!

Josh and Caleb I've heard that when you're starting to write a blog it's best to share with your readers 'Who you are', 'What you do', and 'Why you're writing a blog'. I personally don't know why anyone would care about the first two 'unknowns' (especially on a blog that I'm writing), but for those concerned individuals that will actually read this, I'll indulge you for a few minutes. Then we'll unpack the part I'm most excited about and that's 'Why I'm writing a blog'.

 

That's me on the far left...the one who looks like he just pooped himself. LOL My name is Josh Keiter and I was born and raised in Capon Bridge, WV. Capon Bridge is a small town just 20 miles west of Winchester, VA and it's where I still live and raise my family today. Growing up in this small town there really wasn't a whole lot to do other than play sports, work around the house and hunt. My dad, Wayne, was and still is my hero. His Christian values and example to me has molded me into the man that I am today. He taught me to love the Lord, work hard and hunt! My mom, Trudy, has a work ethic like no one I've ever met and as I get older and take on more responsibilities, I see more and more of her in me every day. I have one younger brother, pictured with me (he didn't poop himself), who lives in the Richmond, VA area with his wife and baby girl. After high school I made the best decision of my life and that was to not go to college. The opportunities I had before me to play baseball at the college level sounded like a great path to take, but looking back on my decision not to go allowed me to date and eventually marry my beautiful wife, Kara. Shortly after our marriage in 2001 we found out we were pregnant with our first child and in June of 2002 our daughter, Gwen, was born. The next five years flew by for us as we had three more children, Will in 2004, Mavis in 2006 and Hisely in 2007. We moved into our new house in 2005 on two acres and certainly enjoy raising our kids in that country way of living.

 

Keiter FamilyAs for my career, I chose to dive into the world of computers. My first job after school was with a government contract working with the FAA in Herndon, VA. I was actually there when everything 'went down' during September 11th and I can honestly say it was one of the scariest days of my life. In 2003, I changed companies and began working for a kitchen cabinet manufacturer in Winchester called American Woodmark Corporation. I'm still with the company today and am the Group Leader of the PC Support and Data Center Operations team responsible for the client solutions (laptops, desktops, etc.) for the company. My experiences with computer systems has helped me take care of a lot of the website and technical needs for SVOutdoors so I guess having a high tech redneck around is a bonus.

 

Speaking of SVOutdoors, I met Mike, our Producer, in the summer of 2013 and we 'hit it off' from the start. Our ideas and passion for hunting blended with our knowledge of camera gear and what it takes to shoot good footage and season 1 was a success from a lot of those ideas and hard work. Mike asked me late last year if I would help him with the decision making and day to day 'business' of running an outdoor show to which I agreed and have regretted it ever since. LOL Honestly, it's been one of the best 'hobby jobs' I've ever had. We hooked up with Dwayne Germer at the end of the season and the rest, as they say, is history. Being an executive producer for the show comes with a lot of responsibilities, but the rewards of meeting and working with so many great people in this industry has all been worth it so far. We're still a very young organization and TV show, but we're slowly seeing the benefits of our hard work and we can't wait to bring season 2 to you this fall.

 

I guess that's just about all I've got to say about me. Hopefully, it was everything you hoped it would be. If not, I guess you'll need to jump over to Michael Waddell's or Bill Winke's blog. That's just about as interesting as I get.

 

Chillin

 

The exciting part of all this is getting to share my thoughts, opinions and experiences with you. My goal with this blog is to talk about anything and everything that pertains to SVOutdoors. Anything and everything pretty much covers anything and everything. Filming, hunting, shooting, sponsors, gear, tips, tricks, best practices, herd management, game laws, outdoor shows, etc. The list goes on and on.  Before we start talking about any of that stuff, I want to make one thing very clear. I'm not a professional in any of these areas. You just read my life story above and no where did you read that I'm a game biologist, or a professional camera man or profess to be extremely knowledgeable in all these areas. That being said, I'm aware that my position or knowledge or opinions on a topic may not reflect yours, but it's what works for me. If in some way, I can make what I write entertaining or educational to you, then my goal with this blog has been met.

 

Me and Dad

 

I certainly hope as we dive into topics and uncover some of these things a little deeper I can keep your attention and you enjoy what you read. We truly love to interact with you on Facebook and Twitter so look us up, give us a 'Like' or 'Follow' and come along with us on our adventures. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you every couple weeks for as long as I have topics to cover. If you have a topic you'd like me to consider, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I'll do my best to give it a shot. 

 

March seems to be slowly getting rid of these cold temps here in Northern VA, but we'll soon be out chasing long beards and scouting our farms for fall. No matter what you enjoy doing, I hope it's outside and with the people you love. For now, stay warm!

 

 

Shoot 'em straight!

Josh

Published in The Blog