If you are anything like me, and I assume if you are reading this you are, than you love hunting and just being outdoors. We all have our tools and gadgets, ways of doing things and what we hold to be more import to others. One of my biggest priorities is scouting, and due to the close quarters of the property I have available, most of that is done through the use of trail cameras. There is so much that I could write on this but I will try to keep it basic for now. Here are some of the things I’ve found helpful through my trials and errors.
First: Finding the right Cam for you.
Over the last 12 years or so I have been through numerous Trail Cams. At first I assumed that one is just as good as the other and that any would fit my needs. I was wrong, way wrong. With all the options out there this can be difficult. You may find your self asking these questions. Do I want the “no glow” option? Is the flash range that big of a difference? Do I need video? To answer your question, yes and no. It all depends on where you are putting your cams and what you hope to get from them. On a large area food plot, I prefer a large flash range. For a small trail that you might be covering, a shorter flash range will do just fine. Same goes for video. I used to set my trail cam up for video if it was looking at a plot and wanted to get general details on where the deer are entering and exiting. From there I can adjust and move cams around.
Second: Where should I put my trail cams?
In an uncharted territory I will put boots on ground in the early summer and look for sign. From there I like to set my cams up facing up or down the trail I think they are using. Once I have pictures I can narrow down more suitable places to put my cameras and pin point bedding areas and trails most traveled. Keep in mind that the more you enter their home turf the more you potentially disturb them. Try to keep your cams in a position just off of a path or plot without actually entering it. If you have a known feeding area that is large, sometimes I like to set the camera higher and get more of an aerial broad angle picture.
Third: Valuable lessons learned.
Again, the more you enter their home, the more you can disrupt their behavior. Its good practice to always use good scent control practices each time you enter the woods. I wear my ScentLok gear and spray down with Wildlife Research Center Scent Killer spray every time. Don’t forget to wear gloves. You will be handling your camera and can leave scent behind.
Look at your field of view. There is nothing more frustrating for me than checking my camera to find thousands of pictures of a tall blade of grass blowing in the wind. Another wind affect that has ruined an afternoon of checking cams was the mistake of selecting a small tree to place my camera on to have the wind blow it around causing sporadic photos of the sky and ground and everything in between. If no large stable trees are available I will use a garden fence post and just push it in the ground in a favorable spot. This has actually become one of my go to options. They are at just the right height for small areas and are surprisingly stable. I also prefer to have my cameras face north or south when possible. Many potentially important pictures can be ruined from a rising or setting sun causing an extreme amount of glare. One thing that might help in this case is to also use the edit feature on your
computer when checking your pictures. Some times adjusting the brightness will change it just enough to tell whether it’s a deer worth investing time into or if its time to select a new camera location.
Don’t check your cameras to often. Sure there are options out there where you can have the pictures sent straight to your computer or phone but if you are on a budget and just thoroughly enjoy being in the woods, its not an option I would go for.
The best thing to do is get a SD card with a lower rating. Most will have a small number circled on it. This is the “speed class”. Most commonly you will find one with a 10. Preferably you should use a lower one such as a 4. This might sound counter intuitive but the result from a speed class that is too high can be frustrating. Basically the trail cam will take to long trying to catch up to the cards speed causing missed pictures. This is overlooked a lot of the time but makes a huge difference. When you do check your cards, try not to delete the pictures from the source you are checking them on. This can unknowing reformat the card creating problems with picture formatting the next time you check your cameras. The best practice I know of, even though it takes a little more time in the woods, is to reformat the card each time you put it back in the camera. This will delete the previous pictures and ensure proper formatting for the pictures to come.
In conclusion: Trial and error.
There is no such thing as a perfect camera for all situations in my opinion. Do your research and learn your hunting property. Look at the options that best suit your needs at a price that is right for you. Decide how many cameras you need, to me there is no such thing as to many. Experiment with camera positions and locations, find the one with the most activity and has the results you are looking for. Happy scouting and hunting, now get to doing your research.