Earlier this week, OutdoorHub reported on a story from Jackson County, Mississippi in which a trail camera picked up a bizarre image. In it, a deer appeared to have its back to the camera while two eerie lights hovered nearby. The couple who owns the trail cam, Rainer and Edith Shattles, said they found no tire tracks near the area when they checked. With a truck or ATV ruled out, they guessed that the lights might have belonged to a drone or even a UFO—alien or otherwise.
The story caused much speculation among UFO enthusiasts, hunters, and internet commenters. OutdoorHub was hardly an exception, and many comments flooded our Facebook page with theories on what the strange lights were. Some of our readers said that the claims of UFOs and drones were absurd.
“It’s just a double reflection of the deer’s eyes. It happens all the time,” wrote author and OutdoorHub contributor Bernie Barringer. “The deer is not standing with its back to the camera, it is facing the camera and the washout of the deer’s face is simply the reflection of the deer’s tapetum lucidum on the retina.”
Employees of the company that made the trail cam, Moultrie Products, agree.
“It’s quite common,” Boyd Barnett, who handles marketing at the company, told me over the phone.
As it turns out, Moultrie receives strange images all the time from its users, and the problem of “floating eyes” comes up fairly often.
“The image of what appears to be two lights hovering above the deer is blowback, a reflection of the deer’s eyes.” Boyd said. “That model of camera, which appears to be a M80 to us, throws out infrared light up to 100 feet so anything close will get a little bit of blowback from the light. It is just a trick of the light. If you follow the two lights straight down, it lines up exactly with where the deer’s eyes would have been.”
As for why the deer appears to be doused in light, Boyd explained that the illumination came from a second camera. He spoke with Rainer Shattles yesterday and said that the couple remains unconvinced that the image is not something more bizarre. For the Shattles, a flying drone still remains the most likely culprit.
“Could there be a drone flying overhead and be picked up by a trail camera? Absolutely,” Boyd said, but he added that it was unlikely in this case.
“It’s a fun photo and it definitely got people talking about game cameras, which we love, and it’s just one of those times when lights do funny things. We’ve got good imaginations, so we try to fill in what we can’t explain,” Boyd concluded.