We all wonder about what our pets are doing when we aren’t around. Do they plot out housebound adventures or witness neighborhood scandals from their spots in the window? To find out the truth, many pet parents set up hidden cameras to spy on their furry friends, but some people have taken their animal snooping beyond their homes and out into the wild.
These nature-buffs installed trail cams in the thick of their local wildernesses. For some, the process took ages of observation and hours of reviewing footage, but all of them ended up with photographic evidence of animals at their most vulnerable. We have never before seen wildlife quite like this.
1. This gives new meaning to the phrase “duck and cover.” A well-placed hunting camera was able to snag this split-second moment of flight, no doubt triggered by the sound of gunfire. Luckily, these guys got away.
Instagram / Breaking_daylight_co
2. Sometimes you just need to walk out into the middle of a field and scream your head off. Whether this deer was in a fight with his doe or his fawns were really getting on his last nerve, he had to vent.
Instagram / Newzealand.safaris
3. A man set this camera up at a stream crossover to see what sorts of critters opted to stay dry. When he played back the footage, he was shocked to see ducks, a bobcat, a fox, and a ginormous bear all scurried over the log.
Twitter / DrainedGod
4. In one corner we have the bald eagle, and boy do those talons mean business. In the other corner we have the wolf, but despite his fearsome nature, he clearly knows he would lose this fight, so he reluctantly throws in the towel.
Twitter / Englercanyon
5. In broad daylight, these funky deer had a bit of dance party. Maybe that’s why deer stand frozen when caught in the headlights; they’re stuck still with embarrassment over someone nearly witnessing them bust a groove.
Instagram / Pjs_pursuit
6. Turns out that when no one’s around, deer like to practice the Thriller dance, too! At least, we hope that’s the explanation behind this utterly horrific zombie deer someone captured on their trail cam.
Twitter / T_macman
7. Giant tracks in the snowy mountains of northern Montana were revealed on trail cam footage to belong to a substantial Canadian lynx. While it looks extremely intimidating, one of these guys can reach a maximum weight of around 35 lbs and don’t pose a serious threat to humans.
Instagram / Robert_j_leblanc
8. This is the unreleased raw footage of Simba and Nala in The Lion King. Well, before you cue up “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” these panthers caught on a trail cam at a Florida conservation park are actually brother and sister.
Flickr / MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife
9. A Florida-based outdoorsman forgot to grab this trail cam, and it will go down as one of his greatest mistakes. His error led to this mirror image reflection photograph that would fit seamlessly into the pages of any nature magazine.
Instagram / Daveyseawall
10. A nature photographer in Oregon captured this incredible shot of a female mountain lion after months of trial and error. His camera was nearly destroyed by the fallen tree, though it ended up providing the perfect setting for this once-in-a-lifetime photo.
Twitter / Jonny Armstrong
11. At what point do you stop counting points on a buck? This deer that wandered past a Missouri trail cam must have had one of the heaviest noggins on that side of the Mississippi because his antlers were out of control.
Twitter / VinatieriRBR
12. Sometimes you’re just waking up for your nightly jaunt around the forest when you spot some human’s secret surveillance badly hidden in the bushes. That’s what this bold raccoon thought before he indulged the voyeur’s wishes and gave ‘em a good look at his fuzzy mug.
Twitter / Lwperkinsart
13. In the woods of Pennsylvania, a hunter had the rare treat of documenting an albino deer. This is a particularly lucky find since only one of these lamb-like Bambis is born per 20,000 deer! So someone should buy a lottery ticket.
Instagram / Pahunter25
14. Imagine reviewing your nature cam footage and you come across this haunting image. What were these guys looking at? Where they hypnotized? It’s probably just normal forest activity and not something of alien or paranormal origin, we hope.
Instagram / The Ohio Hunter
15. We get it, you’re really tall! This bear put on a true show for the owner of this trail cam by stretching out on his hind legs to his fullest height. Thankfully we get to enjoy this glimpse of nature from far away.
Twitter / Readyt0hunt
16. Now we aren’t sure what led the little coyote to this spot, or what held his attention that night in the windy grass, but we are deeply committed to casting him as the hero of the next great animated feature that the whole family could love.
Twitter / DwayneMihalicz
17. A coyote and a bobcat are the next great buddy duo the world desperately needs. However, these two aren’t friends. Just out of view of the trail cam was a beaver that they battled over for dinner.
Instagram / Themendotaranch
18. This pint-sized splasher is a Chinese water deer. They’re similar to other deer species, but only tip the scales at around 25-40 pounds. While the one in the image doesn’t appear to have them, these guys sometimes have long protruding tusks, earning the moniker “vampire deer.”
Twitter / GavinDurrant1
19. All the ingredients came together just right for this magical trail cam treasure. It has a picturesque landscape, moody lighting, and a model who really tends to shy away from the camera.
Instagram / Iliketofishalot
20. After noticing an oak tree with a lot of bird activity at her horse farm, a woman set up a tree cam to document the goings-on. Each year, a pair of small owls build their nests in the oak, so they are able to track their progress.
Twitter / FiMackay
21. While this mammoth cat looks like the Hulk, and you definitely wouldn’t like her when she’s angry, she isn’t monster-sized or out of the ordinary. This mama cougar caught on camera in Alberta, Canada only appears larger than most due to the angle.
22. After sniffing around a glowing bit of space material, an average deer was transformed into — mega deer! That’s the only possible explanation behind this hunched over bulky figure. He looks like he knows exactly where the camera is.
Twitter / SamSchmelzle
23. Any cat owner knows the best seat in the house is the one where your feline friend can stretch out in the sunlight. It just so happens that big wild cats love to relax and clean themselves in the same lazy sun-baked way.
Instagram / Crwildlifecams
24. It’s a turkey standoff! He’s well aware of what you’ve done on all those past Thanksgivings and he’s ready to make you pay. And guess what? He’s bringing his friends. Coming to a theater near you next holiday season.
Instagram / Michiganoutdoorguy
25. All that nose power and none of these guys sniffed out the hidden camera. It’s a good thing too because it’s a rare sight to seeing a pack of wolves doing their thing in the open. Plus, it’s curious that they stay and the convenient path just like humans.
Twitter / Fred_VE3FAL
26. Who knows what this deer was doing, but he wound up getting a barrel stuck between his antlers. Perhaps he was stumbling around in the dark too close to civilization. Go home, Bambi; you’re drunk!
27. Nature is full of hilarious animals, but none know how to steal the limelight quite the way a raccoon can. While the deer here are content to ignore the camera, this raccoon opts for a photobomb for the ages!
28. No one would argue with the fact that tigers are absolutely majestic. Just see how regal this big cat looks after his dip in the mud! Have you ever seen an animal more photogenic than this guy?
29. Bucks use their antlers to help them assert their dominance against other males, but it’s also not uncommon for those antlers to pick up forest debris—just like this unlucky guy did! That’s a very snazzy hat, sir.
30. The fox is a notoriously solitary creature, unless she’s raising her young, of course. Check out this stunning secret portrait of a mother fox nursing her kids in the night. It looks like she could use some shut-eye, but it’s still absolutely precious.
31. There’s a lot to unpack here. Who is this mysterious young child? Does she live among the deer and only come out at night like them? Is she sleepwalking? Is she the Snow White of the modern era? We may never know!
32. Deer are normally not considered to be the bravest animals around. But check out just how tough these two are when they have to face a very angry—and very hungry—coyote! They won’t back down.
33. Can you imagine being this close to a bear tearing through the woods? It would be nearly impossible without risking life or limb! Thanks to trail cams, you can get up close and personal without jeopardizing your safety.
34. Another great thing about hidden trail cams is that they help biologists learn new things about animals. For example, some larger animals have no problem giving smaller ones a ride around town. It’s like Uber, but without the rating system.
35. This is one deer who really knows how to make a lasting impression! While the others ignore this trail cam, this guy can’t help himself from coming up to the camera and giving it a friendly lick hello!
36. This sneaky trash panda is up to his old tricks! Check out this amazing shot of a raccoon scrambling to safety up a tree trunk before he became a nice-sized meal for this hunting coyote.
37. There are two types of people in the world: those who think deer are sweet and innocent… and those who know better. If you fall into the former of those categories, take a look at this picture and you might just change your mind.
38. This cheetah seems intrigued by something hovering just above the camera. Is it a nocturnal rodent about to become this big cat’s prey? We’ll never know for sure, but we do know that this pretty kitty is just as fearsome in the night as he is during the day!
39. Once again proving themselves to be the most ingenious and devious animals in the forest, this raccoon beat the system by going for a ride on a warthog’s back rather than walking home after a night on the prowl.
40. Check out these two porcupines hanging out under cover of darkness. Are they fighting? Are they just making small talk? Or is this about to become a battle royale? Either way, this looks like a prickly situation.
41. Uh-oh. This poor bunny rabbit has no idea that a giant mountain lion is sneaking up behind her. Let’s hope she pricked up her ears and got to hopping soon after this photograph was snapped!
42. This doe has no idea that a swooping flying squirrel is quickly approaching! All she knows is she’s alone in the dark and there’s a weird noise that seems to be getting louder… and louder… and louder…
43. You don’t often see wolverines in the wild, so capturing this one as he’s standing on his hind legs in order to investigate the trail camera is even more rare! Did he think the equipment was edible? Or was he just posing for a portrait?
44. This young buck is in the wrong place at the wrong time and is falling victim to another animal more comfortable in the night than he is. Wonder what the end result of their scuffle was!
45. When these hidden trail cams are set up, the hope is that they will capture the natural world in a way that we never get a chance to see for ourselves. Unfortunately, sometimes all these cameras capture is inexplicable nightmare fuel… like this clown. Yikes!