12 Advanced Trail Camera Tips
If you haven’t put your trail cameras out yet, now is a good time. With antler growth at the halfway point, main beams and points are visible offering a sneak peak at the caliber of bucks that may be on your property come fall. August is the peak antler growth month so if you see a potential target now, the best is yet to come. By getting cams out now you can leave them undisturbed for a month or two before things start to shift in September. Not all the bucks you are getting on camera at this time of year will stick around until fall but it is a very good time to run an inventory on who made it through winter. Apply a few of the following 12 advanced trail camera tips to get you going this fall:
Check cams on rainy and windy days:If possible, always hang cameras before a storefront moves through. You will be leaving scent behind and allowing a storm to wash human odor away will minimize your impact on the area. Wind masks your movement and sound so anytime a 15mph plus wind is blowing, head out.
Hang cameras on the edges (Low Impact Areas):Don’t march into bedding and core areas to hang cameras. Being paranoid about when and where you are leaving scent is not a bad thing, even during the summer. Poor summer scouting tactics can quickly turn mature deer nocturnal and have a serious impact on your early season hunts by altering the habits of the heard. Your scent alone is a threat to mature animals and they do not distinguish between your summer scouting trip and a fall hunting intrusion. Your presence is a threat, period. Hang your cameras in areas that take very little effort to get in and out of. During the summer, 1 camera per 30 acres is typically plenty and will allow you to keep a solid tab on your heard. Entrance and exit routes from open feeding areas are a safe bet along with bottlenecks. Mineral sights, although they offer very little along the lines of antler development, will draw deer to camera locations as well. Run fewer cameras to reduce the urge to march through the woods and check them all. You can get a bit more aggressive with trail camera tactics after the summer to fall home range transition.
Hang’em high:This tactic does two things. First off it will hide your cameras from trespassers. I have had enough cameras stolen to make me a believer that hanging cameras above 10 feet is necessary. Second, pressured whitetails recognize cameras as being non-natural objects and can learn to shy away from them if they have a bad experience. Camera technology has improved drastically but no camera is perfect and it takes very little to alert a whitetail to an invasive object. The Mount from EZAim is the best we have seen for mounting and hanging hunting cameras. It is solid, sturdy and also has a tight locking ball head unit. The reason that this is important is because squirrels and crows tend to perch themselves on the camera from time to time and if the camera cannot support the weight, it will collapse and point the trail camera straight down at the ground. Adjusting the camera angle when hung over 10′ is a cinch.EZ Aim Trail Camera Mount
Pay attention to your camera:Don’t just throw it up on a tree and hope it gets some pics. Set the camera date and time, you would be surprised how many people overlook this. Also, try to avoid aiming the trail camera east or west in open locations as sunrise and sunset pics may be saturated with light.Wear latex gloves:Next time you are at the doctor sitting patiently, throw a few in your pocket. Believe me, the hospital is not going to go broke. Latex gloves are great for reducing scent at camera locations. If you are a law abiding citizen, you can buy them pretty cheap online too.
Always carry batteries:I have made this mistake at least a half dozen times. I check a camera to find the batteries dead. On top of that, the camera is completely ineffective until you can return (leaving more scent) and replace the batteries.
Format your SD:If the card was used in a different brand of camera the card needs to be re-formatted. This is another reason why checking cameras with an SD card reader rather than swapping cards out is a good idea because the card never has to leave the field. More on this below.
Rubber boots:Scent control applies during summer months as well. Knee high rubber boots are a must and often going a step further with LaCrosse hip boots is a good idea. Grasses and foliage are much higher now, and by wearing a thigh high boot, you are dramatically reducing the scent left behind.
Test your camera:There is nothing more frustrating than getting to your camera and finding that it is malfunctioning. By carrying a cheap card reader in your pack, you can test the cam in real time and make sure everything is functioning correctly.
Carry a card reader:A card reader is a necessity item to a lot of good hunters and many never go in the field without it. It prevents you from losing SD cards and also allows you to check cams in real time which is a huge asset. Oftentimes a deer will have moved through the area the same day that you are checking the camera which allows you change your game-plan in accordance with what you see on the camera you are checking. I recently upgraded from a Stealthcam model to the Bone View SD reader to cut back on weight and so far am very impressed. The Bone View allows you to view pictures directly on your phone eliminating the need to carry an actual reader unit.
Stay out:We have all been guilty of checking cams to often. We do our best to stay out but temptation/anticipation overtakes us. But seriously, you are not doing yourself any good by marching in and checking cams in July and August. At this time all you are trying to do is gain evidence that a target animal is in the area. It is not until closer to season opener that a target animals particular movements need to be carefully monitored. Summer deer behavior is very different than fall so don’t go crazy trying to figure out where and when they are moving. Aside from that, many deer will re-locate anyway. Right now you should only be running an inventory.
Maintain vegetation:This one is huge. We have all gone in to check a camera to find 2,063 pictures of a branch tripping the sensor. This drains the camera battery and increases the amount of time it takes to sort through the photos. Trim overhanging branches but don’t overdo it, you don’t want to make the area look overly disturbed.
So there you have it, 12 advanced trail camera tips to help you in the field. Get your cameras out now and it will give you something to daydream about until the clock winds down to opening day and by then you may have all the visual evidence you need to put a tag on the animal you are after.