You need to think about your needs and do some research before choosing a trail camera. Foresight and perseverance are needed to set up a trail camera in a place where it can reveal the secrets of the bucks you are searching for. Trial and error are needed to overcome the problems caused by one’s mistakes. This guide will help you to understand the basics of how to use a trail camera.
The benefits of using digital trail cameras
Modern digital trail cameras are excellent scouting tools. Unlike film cameras, they work silently, so they are less likely to scare away deer. They require fewer visits because they can store thousands of high-quality images on memory cards.
This is a lot more than a roll of film, which can only take 24 or 36 photos. New batteries provide much more power and faster trigger times allow them to capture fleeting images of deer.
Point your camera up or down the trail
Basic trail cameras with slower trigger times may not be able to capture images of bucks that stroll by without stopping. The camera may capture nothing, or you may get an image of the tail end of the buck. This may give you the impression that there are no bucks in the area that are worth hunting.
To avoid this, angle your game camera, so the lens points up or down the trail, instead of directly at a rub line, scrape or deer trail. This will give your deer camera sufficient time to exit the battery-saving mode, and it will capture the images you want.
Place your camera at a height
Glare from the sun can ruin your images, so set up your cameras at a height and try to point them towards the north, not the south. You will capture better images by placing your camera on a tree around 10 feet above the ground and tilting it downwards towards the trail.
This provides better results than setting it up at waist height. It will also provide better images at the edges of the field.
Look for a model with a faster trigger time
A trail camera with a faster trigger time will be able to capture many more images of deer. While you can also use bait to make deer slow down and pose for your trail camera, many people feel that this doesn’t work because deer usually visit piles of bait in the dark.
Besides, once you start using bait, you’ll never be able to stop. Enthusiasts prefer to experiment with strategic camera placement and angles to capture better images.
The multiple-shot feature is a big advantage
Look for a camera with a quick trigger time as well as a multiple-shot feature. This can help you to capture images of a buck entering the frame, in the center of the frame and exiting the frame.
Your memory card has plenty of space to store these images, and you can delete the ones you don’t like later.
Scouting tool vs. recreational toy
Many people view trail cameras as recreational toys that help them to capture great images of wildlife. Others see them only as scouting tools that help them to study the movement of bucks. They only use them to identify the best bucks in the areas, the trails they use and when and where they can be found during the day.
A trail camera can help you to study the patterns that deer follow. If you happen to capture an image of a big buck, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to get it. If you only focus on hunting one big buck, you may miss out on the entire season.
Working with infrared light
If you use infrared light to capture images of deer and check your game cams in the night, it’s best to do it quickly. When you visit an infrared trail camera location, change memory cards quickly and move on to the next one.
You can fix reflective tape with tacks to make it easier for you to find your way from one camera to another. If you use a flashlight, add a red or green filter.
The setup is crucial for success
If you distribute your trail cameras at random all over the place, you may capture some great images, but may not be able to learn much about the habits of a particular buck at a particular spot.
You can get the information you need by setting up your cameras properly in a planned way.
Monitor important events closely
You can benefit by closely monitoring the most important change that occurs in the fall. That’s when bucks abruptly change from nocturnal activity to daytime activity. This is not easy to predict, but a wild game camera can help you to find out when it happens.
Follow the chain of events that occurs during the rut because things happen fast and you will miss out on the action if you are not prepared. Trail cameras will help you to focus on the most promising spots, where you will have much better chances of getting a prize buck.
Your trail cameras will help you to determine when to use decoys and rattling and when you need to allow the mating action to come to you.
This checklist provides practical tips that will help you to take your trail camera game to the next level:
- Set up your trail camera on the lee side of a hill or knoll to avoid false triggering caused by foliage and leaves.
- Be aware of the effective detection range of your trail camera, which may be much more on a cold winter day than on a warm summer day.
- Cameras without flash will scare fewer deer, but some feel that the infra-red beam makes deer pose. Placing the camera at a height can help to avoid this.
- Seal your camera housing with duct tape, spray foam or pyrethrum to prevent insects from crawling in.
- Check to see if the viewing angle is clear to around 20 feet to avoid triggers caused by branches and bushes.
- Keep extra memory cards and batteries in separate clearly marked plastic bags to avoid mixing them up.
- Remember to aim your camera again at the correct angle after reloading it.
As you gain experience, you will be able to avoid common mistakes and will make the most of your trail cameras. Patience and persistence will help you to get the prize buck you’ve always dreamed of!