Videos show wildlife at ease behind Henderson County home

Coyotes captured on video by Tom Brass.

A mere 50 yards from the back door of Tom Brass’s Henderson County home, bears, bobcats, coyotes and foxes creep across the mountain ridge, and Brass has the video evidence, posted on his YouTube channel, to prove it.

Using three infrared, motion and heat-sensitive heat-activated, Browning trail cameras, Brass collects upward of 400 videos per week of nearly a dozen species of wildlife right in his backyard.

Tom Brass kneels at one of his three trail camera sites behind his Henderson County home, where he has captured videos of bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and more. (Photo by Rachel Ingram).
One of Tom Brass’ infrared motion-and-heat-sensitive Browning trail cameras that captures images of wildlife activities on his property. Photo by Rachel Ingram

Brass and his wife, Charlotte, moved from Minneapolis to Western North Carolina four years ago. Their 1-acre plot is nestled between Hendersonville and Mills River, and not far from their property lies the peak of Long John Mountain, along with more than 200 acres of undeveloped land.

A lifetime outdoor enthusiast and former wildlife photographer, Brass says he became interested in using trail cameras, designed for hunters, to capture videos of wildlife after he moved to WNC, and it quickly developed into his biggest hobby.

“I think I do this because I love the mystery and adventure of the outdoors,” he says.

The ideal site for the trail cameras, Brass discovered, is secluded, level and raked clean of sticks and leaves. “It’s comfortable for them,” he says.

To increase wildlife traffic, he groomed preexisting game trails and developed a few of his own, introducing intersections. “I created crossroads so I would have more chances of seeing them come through,” he explains. “It’s all very strategic.”

Originally, he also collected raw meat scraps from a butcher shop to lure animals to the camera sites, but no longer does. “In some of my earliest videos, you’ll see fox and coyotes pulling at stuff, which is meat scraps tied to a tree,” Brass says, “but then I stopped doing that because I don’t want to attract them.”

In order to encourage deer, raccoons, squirrels and other non-predatory animals to pause in front of the lens, Brass occasionally sprinkles corn or salt at his camera sites.

For the predators, he eventually developed his own trick to entertain the animals without feeding them.

“I heat bacon grease and paint a tree with it,” Brass explains. “I also sometimes spray a little bit of a predator-attracting spray that trappers use. You can smell it hundreds of feet away. So if anything wanders through, it holds them long enough to get a decent video while they sniff around.”

His cameras have the ability to capture both day- and night-time videos in 10 second bursts, with audio. “With the infrared, it can only stay on for 10 seconds, or it will burn itself out,” he explains.

Using VideoPad, a free editing software program, Brass spends about six hours per week sifting through the clips, merging files together to create videos and enhance their visual quality, and then posting them online. “I like to try to create a story in each one,” Brass says.

Tom Brass kneels by one of his three trail camera sites behind his Henderson County home, where he has captured videos of bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and more. Photo by Rachel Ingram
Tom Brass kneels by one of his three trail camera sites behind his Henderson County home, where he has captured videos of bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and more. Photo by Rachel Ingram

Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Rachel Ingram
Rachel freelances for Mountain Xpress. She still can't believe she gets paid to meet new people and explore Western North Carolina on her days off from her "real" job as a direct care provider at a residential treatment center for youth (which she also thoroughly enjoys). To round it out, she also likes to drink wine, swim, backpack and cook, but not in that order.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Videos show wildlife at ease behind Henderson County home

  1. I love watching wildlife, whether live or on camera. I do think that even though he no longer uses meat scraps, by using bacon grease, attractant sprays and sprinkles of corn or salt, he is continuing to attract the animals to the area. Especially the coyotes have an amazing sense of smell and can be drawn from great distances.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.