Well-placed trail camera helps sports editor go viral


This screenshot from the trail camera video shows the eight-point buck watching sports editor Morgan Rode and his brother walk to their evening hunting spots. (Contributed photo)

As the video file uploaded, I texted my brother, Sawyer, “You ready to go viral, lil’ bro?”

Little did I know how true those words would become in just a matter of hours.

When I am not covering a sporting event or writing up a story, one of my favorite things to do is be out in the hunting woods.

Living over two hours away from the grounds I hunt in western Wisconsin, I’ve come to appreciate trail cameras quite a bit. Trail cameras can be vital tools in learning the behaviors and patterns of a white-tailed deer, but a week ago, I learned how heartbreaking scrolling through some of the photos and videos can be.

After spending several hours in the woods with my brother Nov. 3-4, I returned back to Shawano on the morning of Nov. 5 for the work week. After seeing a fair share of deer activity — but no bucks to my knowledge — I again pondered where to sit in order to put myself in a better position to harvest a mature buck this year.

I received a phone call from my dad on the afternoon of Nov. 7 saying my brother and I were going to be famous.

“I went out and picked up the camera chips today and the one that takes the video — this is the most unbelievable thing — you and him are walking out to the stands … and as you are walking down the path, this huge eight-point buck comes into the view of the camera. He then looks at you guys walking off before taking off.”

As I listened to that voicemail, my mouth dropped in disbelief. How in the world could a buck have been right behind both my brother and me, yet have us both totally unaware of its presence?

It sounds almost made up, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what I thought my dad did.

Hours later, my parents sent me the two clips, and every word my dad said was spot on.

After returning home from work that night, I pieced the two clips together using the iMovie phone app and posted the 30-second video to Instagram and Facebook.

In all honesty, when I said viral to my brother, I meant maybe a few thousand people watching the video. At 3:10 p.m. on Nov. 8, the video had just over 5,000 views and 120 shares, which I thought would be about the extent of it.

Well, it’s about 1 p.m. on Nov. 12 and the video has these current statistics: over 2.5 million views, over 40,000 shares and 23,000 comments and nearly 140,000 reactions.

I’m still in a state of disbelief at just how many people have watched the video and reacted to it.

I honestly sat and read through as many comments as I could, coming across plenty of, “I bet this happens to us all the time,” with a few comments of, “That buck isn’t that big anyways,” sprinkled in.

There were times where I wanted to chime in and explain the situation more, but most times, some random stranger did it for me.

While many would be devastated and frustrated to have that kind of situation happen to them, I simply chalked it up as an incredible experience that was almost too good to be true.

I’ve enjoyed reading the comments that have rolled in and hope that any viewer can find enjoyment in what happened and maybe even relate.

As you prepare for the upcoming gun season, always make safety your top priority.

But do not forget to turn around and look where you just walked from time to time. If you do, you might bag yourself a trophy. If you don’t, well, let’s just hope you don’t have a deer follow you and a trail camera on nearby.