On Land Large or Small, Game Cameras Are Eyes in the Field

Heartland Pride Outfitters owner Cody Kuck points out a specific feature of a buck in a stand location, helping to illustrate what’s been spotted thanks to thousands of game camera images and video. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

The pre-dawn short hop flight, drooling on the longer flight across country and long drive on the interstate didn’t matter after the laptops got fired up at camp.

Heartland Pride Outfitters owner Cody Kuck sat down with our crew of five Tuesday night to go over stand locations and the deer spotted in our area that we might see on our hunts. All of us had flown in from Oregon, Illinois and Alabama to hunt here for several days in northwest Kansas. Bowhunting is king here in the Sunflower State and this corner of the world is loaded with does, bucks and giants.

Kuck has managed his leased open farmlands for big bucks by doing a couple of things. First, he has only about 40 or so hunters each year. Second, they typically go after bucks that score160 inches or better. Kansas has the combination to produce giants: food and genetics, along with a 1-buck limit for non-residents and two for residents. Those things and passing on 130-, 140- and even 150-inch bucks help contribute to some superb hunting opportunities.

Knowing the potential for giant bucks thanks to food, genetics and age, hunters watch 140- and 150-inch whitetails and focus on giants. This one was captured on Heartland Pride Outfitters game cameras and was hanging out with another buck of similar size all summer.

Kuck and Jordan Schwartz, one of his guides and consultants, keep up with movement via their daily drives, hunter reports and StealthCam game camera images they use religiously. I asked if they had 10,000 or more images and Kuck said, “Oh, easily far more than that, no doubt.” 

“I think we have around 50 to 60 cameras down here, and another 40 on our Nebraska property,” Kuck said. “We have them on 30-second intervals in case a buck just cruises in. We’ll easily get 400 to 500 images in just a few days. In two weeks we’ll max out a card, constantly getting images and video. It really makes our job so much easier to be able to not just talk with but also show hunters what they may see or expect in their hunting area.”

Honestly, it’s quite nice to see specific bucks and their attributes. Having someone say, “There’s a big 10 in the area with a long G3″ is one thing, but seeing it is quite another. This is one of the best justifications for buying and using game cameras for your hunting land. It doesn’t matter, either, whether it’s 20,000 acres or 200 acres; I learned tons about deer on a small tract I hunted with my Browning cameras and now are using them on a second tract.

Kuck and Schwartz each night discuss with their hunters the stand location, how to get to it quietly, and then show them what the cameras have captured. It makes for a better hunting experience.

I grew up scouting our hilltops and in two hours what you’d see is what you had to work with,” Kuck said. “Now we have the cameras and they have such detail and information for us to help us.”

The only thing left for us to do was to have our gear ready, pull on our boots the next day and go hunt.

Heartland Pride Outfitters owner Cody Kuck with a pair of sheds he found with velvet still attached. This monster buck hasn’t been spotted again but Kuck religiously scours his game camera images and videos for a glimpse of it. (Photo: Alan Clemons)