Trail cameras are extremely useful. They are like a quiet, hard working guide to any game you could want to hunt. A great camera will take clear photos of the desired game, allow you to judge the number of game in the area, and some can even send the pictures directly to your phone or laptop.
A good trail camera costs between $200-$500. The benefits are many: They help you track the schedule of the game, such as when the deer come out to feed, what time they drink, and other details. Place trail cameras in strategic spots in your hunting area, and you will reap big rewards. Here are the top 10 ways to use a trail camera.
- Buy a top rated trail camera
What good is a camera if it takes fuzzy pictures, or scares away game? Get a good one; it will be worth it. Many hunters recommend the Reconyx brand for top quality. The very best one on the market is supposed to be the Reconyx Hyperfire HC600. If that one is too expensive, go for a Wild Game Innovations brand, which is quality for a low price.
- Place cameras in strategic positions
Game trails, ruts, feeding area, watering holes, and places with deer sign are all great spots to aim the camera. Place them in a hidden spot, but angle them appropriately so you get good pictures. You can hang one from a branch to get a buck's face when he nibbles the leaves. You can place one next to a patch of scuffed dirt so the buck comes to inspect the area. You can tilt the camera at an angle so you get shots of the deer as they pass by on the trail. Many hunters make the mistake of pointing the camera too high. A good height is usually about 3 feet from the ground.
- Set the cameras up well before you go hunting
Nothing will scare game away like a noisy hunter messing around, nailing a camera to a tree, leaving his scent everywhere, and testingthe contraption out. Do the placing in early summer, then by the fall, the scent will be gone, but you will have plenty of pictures already, and it will be in place ready for you.
- Get to know your camera before taking it to the field
Mess with it at home to figure out how to position it, how to set up the photos, how to send photos to your computer, etc. This will save lots of time and aggravation once you arrive at your location. Set it up, test it, and leave.
- Move the camera if it isn't picking up any activity after a week
This is another great reason to set it up early. You need to find the best places to actual photograph game and get an idea of how many animals are on the property.
- Place more than one in the area, so you can track the deer's movement
This will cost more, obviously, but it will be nice to know that the buck was at the corn at 7 pm, and got a drink at the creek at 7:30 pm every day last week.
- Check the state laws
Check the state laws to be sure you aren't violating rules if you want to set up the camera on state land. Private property is completely fine, as long as the land owner doesn't mind. In at least 2 states, the laws forbid trail cameras on public land.
- Be sure to lock the camera in place to protect it from thieves
Always use a lock box around the camera, especially if it cost more than $100. Cameras with a bright flash actually attract people, so try to go for an infrared one, if possible. Either way, a lock box will keep the camera safe and in place.
- Take some test photos before heading home
Be sure the camera is actually working before you leave. Also, check the batteries and SD card to be sure they are ready for a long haul. Be sure to have an SD with a large amount of memory, as well.
- Set up your hunt based on the info you get from the camera
Set up the tree stand far enough away from the deer's normal spots that it won't scare them, but close enough to get a good shot. The same goes for any game. Plan to be in place well before the game arrives. This allows you time to set up your equipment, let the scent die down, and for everything to become quiet and normal.
Now that you know where they are because of your camera, position yourself in a good spot, and bag some game!