Cast a Line
by Sam Van Camp
The invention of trail cameras has allowed deer hunters and wildlife enthusiasts to make a record of what is traveling their territory. This allows hunters the opportunity to see and evaluate the big bucks running their hunting areas, homeowners to view what comes near their property and wildlife enthusiasts a chance to view the animals that are in their area.
A lot of thought and science comes into play when deciding where to place a trail camera and one has to decide how many cameras he or she wants to put out and how much money they want to invest in their equipment.
It is best to place a trail camera somewhere between three and five foot off the ground although some deer hunters like to go even higher and point their cameras down. It is also important to clear any tall grass, weeds or limbs from between your camera and where you are photographing. If you don’t clear this area the camera will continue to trigger whenever something in front of it moves and you may end up with hundreds of photos of nothing on a windy day.
It is important to point your trail camera either north or south to avoid the rising and setting of the sun which will make your pictures unclear or leave you with a silhouette of the animal. Many times the sun shining directly on the camera can cause false triggers as well.
Most trail cams will allow you to set for three images per trigger which may allow you to get a chance at a better photo of your animal. One shot may be blurred or at the wrong angle so three shots per trigger may help solve that problem. This may also get you a second deer that might be trailing.
Never set your camera 90 degrees to the trail but rather place it at an angle to the trail. Setting your camera at 90 degrees will normally get you a shot at the side of the animal or nothing at all as the animal passes by before the camera triggers. Always stand in front of your camera and get a shot or two of yourself to make sure you have what you want from your camera placement. You never want to leave the woods, come back in several weeks only to find that you had forgot to check the working of your camera before you left and no pictures had been taken.
Place your trail cam along trails, around food plots, at the edges of woods where corn and bean fields come up to the edge. During the rut, place your trail cam around scrapes and licking branches to see what deer are in your area. Keep notes; ask friends that use trail cams, and experiment to see what works best for you.
Many trail cam features make expensive cameras lucrative but, one must remember that the camera will be left alone in the woods and camera theft is always a possibility. Use an engraving tool and put your driver’s license somewhere on the inside portion of your trail cam where someone will be unlikely to find it just in case of theft. If cameras are confiscated by law enforcement you may well get your camera back this way. The same is true of deer stands.
Many features are now found on video cams as the market presses manufacturer’s to expand choices. Things such as video, infrared, date and time, temperature, barometric pressure, and moon phase are among the many features now available. Consider digital with more memory on a card so you don’t have to check your camera as often. Look for trail cams that use long lasting batteries as well. Study your prospects online to decide which camera you want to purchase and what features you find attractive to you.
One good tip is to have your cameras out of the area you are photographing by the time the deer drop their antlers. Camera theft rises during the shed hunting period because the cameras are normally in plain sight since the trees are bare.
Your Big R Stores offer a nice selection of trail cams so come in and check them out.