Game cam captures weird lights, sparks a mystery (Solved!)

See update below. Our commenters had a handle on this early, now it is confirmed by the game camera maker. Nice work everyone. High fives.

This is a very even-handed piece from some down-to-earth witnesses who caught something strange on their game camera. As well as deer, the photos reveal a strange pair of lights. The deer notice it too. Can we help them figure out this mystery?

UFO Cumbest Bluff: Mississippi couple spot strange lights on camera | Metro News.

Edith and Rainer Shattles set up infrared cameras in their fields hoping to spot some deer, but when they checked on the footage the next morning they got quite a fright.

Still images from that February night appear to show two beams of light – mysteriously spaced, as if the headlights of a truck or car – before the unidentified object appears to fly off into the night sky.

Here is the news report. Take a look.

The photos are stills, not a video, so we have no details on the object(s) approach or retreat which is unfortunate. We also don’t have info about how far the lights may be off the ground or the distances involved. But there is one clue in the story. The Shattles are interested in the deer around the area, others may also be intersted, presumably to hunt them. Could this be people scoping for deer. Is it a remote control flying device? There are plenty of them out there, even flying at night. Was it a drone? Mr. Shattles also considers this but I’m not sure why the government would be all that interested in flying about looking for deer at night. However, the idea of a remote scouting device is out there. Could this be such a device fitted with lights and a camera? [New role for drones: wildlife, ecological conservation- The Boston Globe]

Anyway, it’s a great story and there is clearly something there that appeared in the pictures. It deserves an investigation. I hope they are able to narrow down what it can be. I say, keep an eye out for RC flying devices. Meanwhile, they are not freaking out about aliens but having some fun trying to solve this mystery. That is what it’s all about.

Deer in the foreground appears concerned about pair of lights in the night.

Deer in the foreground appears concerned about pair of lights in the night.

Tip: Kevin O’Malley

UPDATE: (10-Apr-2014)

Caught in the Headlights? Experts Explain Deer-Cam UFO – NBC

[T]he folks who manufacture the camera that took the picture say they know the true answer to the mystery.

“It helps when you look at thousands of these things,” said Boyd Barnett, who handles marketing and advertising at Alabama-based Moultrie Products.

He and others at Moultrie say the lights seen in the picture are actually the reflections of the deer’s eyes, bouncing around inside the infrared camera.

The deer is illuminated by the infrared beam. It is looking directly into the camera. I, for one, learned a lot from this example on how cameras can be deceptive. Do they lie? No, but they can be a little freaky on occasion. Don’t assume the paranormal when the normal is much more elegant and interesting.

UPDATE (11-Apr-2014) Received this picture from @UFOChronicles who adjusted the photo showing the back of the deer head, not looking at the camera.


  38 comments for “Game cam captures weird lights, sparks a mystery (Solved!)

  1. Andrew
    April 5, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    an “Amazon” drone with a bad GPS? 😉

  2. Kevin
    April 5, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    My guess is that they were pranked by people who new that they had cameras set up in that area.

  3. Jim1950a
    April 5, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    They sound like reasonable people, ‘aliens, maybe, doubt that’ and willing to say ‘I don’t know’.

    Only the announcer talked about the lights ‘flying away’, but there was no obvious evidence of that.

  4. April 5, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    If you’ll pardon the term. It appears to be a ghost image caused by movement blur, and the “lights” to me at least, look like a ghost image of the deer’s eyes. Eye shine is also produced via infrared light, and if the deer was moving, which it likely was, or if there was mist/fog involved, such a ghost image could be reflecting (wrong word I think, but can’t think of another) the deer’s face into the space above it’s head.

  5. April 5, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Of course, if the deer is actually facing away from the camera, which it might be, but it’s difficult to tell, my idea is thrown out the window.

  6. Mike Humphrey
    April 5, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    It’s an internal reflection of the deer itself, which is not facing away from the cam, but facing TOWARDS it so we see the reflection of the camera’s own IR light source in the reflective retinas of its eyes in the internal reflections of the lens (and/or the glass in front of the lens).

    The deer is so overexposed that we can’t see if it’s facing towards us or away. It’s towards us. Note how the two “light sources” are EXACTLY the same distance apart you’d expect the deer’s eyes to be.

    That’s why the light “fog” appears and goes away matching the deer’s presence in front of the lens.

  7. Mike Humphrey
    April 5, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    Apologies, I didn’t see your post before posting the exact same theory myself. I definitely think that’s it. The camera has protective plate glass in front of it which would account for refraction changing the apparent position of the bright reflection.

    Also note that the “fog” only appears with the deer’s arrival and disappears when the deer does as well.

  8. Lagaya1
    April 5, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Did we all forget that a widespread UFO hoax was planned for April 5?

  9. Lagaya1
    April 5, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    I see now this is from February. Maybe someone taking their UFO for a test run?

  10. April 5, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    The photo seems to show small tire tracks. Maybe just an ATV with headlights mounted on an overhead bar like this:

  11. April 5, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    All reasonable thoughts. I delight in reasonable thoughts.

  12. April 5, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Great minds, as they say. 🙂

  13. Craig P
    April 5, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    But…the cameras used in the case were IR.

  14. April 5, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    I loaded the image in Photoshop, copied the “lights,” and lowered them straight down. They fairly perfectly overlap where I imagine the deer’s eyes would be. This seems to lend credence to the “reflection” theory.

  15. April 5, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    I posted this on the fezbook as well, but thought I’d share here. Having played around with IR photography, I’d say it’s just eye shine.

  16. Chris Howard
    April 6, 2014 at 12:02 AM

    I’m going with the creature at the end of the movie Lovely Molly.

  17. knightofbob
    April 6, 2014 at 2:32 AM

    I can’t currently watch the video, but the enlarged picture actually does look like it’s most likely facing the camera. The camera appears to be at a relatively elevated position, and the silhouette of the head appears pointed either directly toward or directly away from the lens. And that’s with the ears pointed forward, as if alerted to something. So, based on that one picture, I’d guess the deer in question is either spooked by the camera, or something on the ground exactly opposite the camera.

    That’s making a lot of assumptions, of course, but I’ve spent most of my over 30 years around whitetails, I’m an occasional hunter, and I just did a lab about internal reflection on Wednesday, so most of it adds up.

  18. April 6, 2014 at 5:17 AM

    It’s just a lens flare by IR light source in the reflective deer’s retinas (tapetum lucidum).

    Another example:


  19. spookyparadigm
    April 6, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Would this explain the image later in the video, of a deer being illuminated by light perpendicular to the camera?

  20. Bo Gardiner
    April 6, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    What a great find in that comparison photo — it definitely supports the eyeshine theory.

    The irresponsibility of the reporter saying “and then it flies away”, when there’s no photo to suggest that, really grates.

  21. Sam
    April 6, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Flip the picture upside down. It’s a “reflection” of the deer!

  22. Sam
    April 6, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    I will be honest, I have no idea how that works, but once you flip the image upside down, it’s laughable. And credit those two people for thinking critically and not screaming UFO.

  23. Sam
    April 6, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Yes, a lenses would reflect to the opposite side of its focal point. (I think)

  24. April 6, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    No, the still shows a deer illuminated by a light source off camera left – it’s also lighting up the snow around the deer –
    something that lens flare, which is what photographers call an image produced by internal reflections in the lens, can’t do – there is a still that shows lens flare that the reporter calls a ‘weird shape’.

  25. Frederick
    April 6, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    The lights doesn’t fly up, they just disappear since it is not a video, we can know. Maybe ATV, maybe a small RC drone from people having fun at night. A chopper landing and taking off after ward.
    Maybe some people pranking them too. the “dime light” and “weird shpe” are not that obvious so those might be only distortions. I think that the Rc flying chopper /drone is the best explanation. That or ATV with overhead light.
    If it was a alien space ships. the ship is really small, and that’s kind of silly to think that alien will have tiny spaceship to go faster than light 🙂

  26. spookyparadigm
    April 6, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Yup, that’s why I think the ATV lamps hypothesis would be worth looking into if someone was trying to figure this out.

  27. CLamb
    April 7, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    The problem with the reflection theory is that the announcer says the camera doesn’t emit light. Can someone recognize that camera from the brief shot of it and confirm this?

  28. April 7, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Yes, it does have an infrared flash. It does not emit visible light, but infrared will produce reflections as well.

  29. Paul de Boer
    April 7, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    This is a image from a second camera. It is probably looking at the first camera. Look at the snow on the ground. It doesn’t match the other images. Nor can you see the trees on the right

  30. Paul de Boer
    April 7, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Hey Mark, I don’t see any tire marks. If you look at the before image at 7:24, it looks the same.

  31. April 7, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    The reflections appear diametrically opposed to the light source, in reference to the axis of the lens, which should be the centre of the image, but in this case it looks like they are still from the station’s video of their computer screen, so it’s hard to determine where the centre would be – also, light sources that are outside of the frame can cause lens flare. Would be nice if the originals were posted but I couldn’t find them.

  32. Frederick
    April 7, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Yes, ATv with top lamp in 90% sure for me, beside that image that demonstrate that the light are not “in the air” but a little above the ground, you see the deer starring straight right. The person in the ATV probably then continue father from the cam, and came back up to it, explaining the first picture where the 2 spot light are dim ( it was far from the cam) and then they become brighter ( closer). The ATV stop there, look at the deer, and goes away. I don’t know how much time there is between picture, but only a minute is enough for the ATV to disappear without any picture been taken of it actually going away.
    There weird reflexion my come from atv fumes? and the light from the sky, that i don’t know. But i guess it is unrelated and and cause by the ATV. And since they live in th Wood and rural area, it is totally logical. lot of people have ATV in those parts

  33. April 7, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    Yes, they do tell us in the video that the images were from “Trail Cameras”.

  34. April 7, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    I didn’t mean that the tracks were made by the possible ATV – the long ruts that are in the photo suggest that ATVs have been over that area – they could be caused by other things.

  35. spookyparadigm
    April 7, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    That would explain it.

  36. Paul de Boer
    April 8, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    Good point, but I think the reflection theory is still the most likely.

    April 9, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Looks to me like spotlight poaching. Here in the south the hunters will drive their big trucks outfitted with lights mounted on top into fields at night hoping to spot deer and kill them. They probably saw the game camera and left. That’s what it looks like to me. Especially where the deer had an obvious light shining on it from the left of the camera. No lens refraction there.

  38. Paul de Boer
    April 11, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Victory! Now, if we could do something that matters…

Comments are closed.