The technological era of deer hunting has arrived. It’s actually been here for some time and it seems that every year another new gadget is marketed that will ensure you a chance at having your best season yet. Some of these gadgets come and go but the one that has stuck around and is improving every year is the trail camera. It seems that most land managers have at least one trail camera, but the problem is that many don’t know how to properly use the camera’s capabilities or orient them correctly. Here are a few tips that will help you get the most from your cameras and assist you in choosing a model when purchasing your next camera.
The first consideration is purchase price. You can purchase a trail camera in just about any range that you are willing to pay. The basic model cameras are perfectly capable of capturing great pictures despite lacking some features that the higher end models offer. It is recommended that you set up a camera for every 40 acres but I have discovered that as long as the pictures reveal that you are not intruding or pressuring wildlife, you can have as many as you want. The cameras should only be checked once every two or three weeks. When you do check them, slip in and out quietly and don’t intrude any more than you have to.
Another consideration is battery life. Many new cameras have great battery life but the older cameras are lacking a bit and the cost of expensive batteries quickly adds up. The memory capacity is another aspect that needs to be considered. Once again, the newer models are much more improved than older models. Essentially, what you need is a camera with a sufficient battery life that will last for a minimum of a month or two. This guarantees that if you can only check your setups once a month that the camera will still be functioning when you swap out memory chips. Having a quality camera that will last and perform properly is key.
The most common mistake I see with trail cameras is the orientation of the camera on the tree. Many companies make mounting brackets specifically for their cameras. They are not always necessary but they will allow you to be more flexible on where you place your cameras and ensure the cameras are level and not tilted up or down. Also, avoid facing them east or west. Most cameras have improved enough so that the sun won’t white-out or over expose photos but it can happen. By orienting the cameras north and south you are eliminating this problem. Some cameras have fast trigger speeds and will capture pictures long before others even detect an animal is nearby. These cameras are great for being set up on actual deer trails. Other cameras that have slower detection speeds need to be set up over mineral sites and feeders, which will attract deer and keep them hanging around for a few minutes.
A full length article about the capabilities and orientation of trail cameras will be featured in the Fall Issue of Mossy Oak Gamekeepers-Farming for Wildlife Journal.