When someone puts their keys in the same spot every day when they get home from work, they’re called a creature of habit. But the same thing applies to all animals. In the case of a hunter, exploiting those habits is key to identifying game animals and making the most of hunting trips. One of the easiest ways to do that is through the use of trail cameras set up along animal trails. Nowadays trail cameras are more or less seen as a must-have for the successful hunter. By using data accumulated before and during the hunting season, hunters can gauge where and when they can find animals more accurately than ever.
But just setting a camera in a tree and leaving it alone isn’t the answer. There is a lot of maintenance and care that must be put into the cameras in order to get the kind of results necessary for good hunts. In addition, if the cameras aren’t placed properly or utilized effectively, there will be many unusable shots. A lot of time and money can be wasted this way. And once the hunter has the pictures, organization and analysis of those photos is absolutely necessary to figure out where the bucks are for hunting. Following a few basic rules like these can drastically increase hunting success by making the most of trailcams.
Any hunter will tell you that the hunt begins long before fall rolls around. Trail cameras help track the summer movements of bucks and note how they change with the seasons. But before the trail cameras can provide information, they need to be set up carefully.
The first step of preparation is making sure that your camera has the latest firmware. This is the internal system that operates the camera. Make sure that each of your camera is up to date and also make sure that each has fresh set of batteries. A dead game camera helps no one. Erase all SD cards before heading out and make sure that each one fits and works fine in the camera it’s going to go in. Some cards don’t work properly in some cameras, so taking a few minutes to double check is well worth the effort.
When placing your cameras, hide and secure them well. For all intents and purposes, you are leaving cameras out in the middle of nowhere. Place the cameras in hard-to-see places and lock them to trees or thick branches to prevent theft. Use lock boxes for additional safety.
Getting the perfect shot can be nearly impossible when there’s no one behind the camera. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to be done to help maximize the good photos while setting up the cameras. Try to face the cameras north. This will put the sun behind the cameras at all times of day, lessening blurry silhouettes. Put the cameras up in trees if possible or in dense brush. But make sure the camera can still see the path it’s facing, either by getting in manually and checking it or using a viewer (if your camera has one) to check the camera’s field of view. To maximize the amount of photos if your camera has a hybrid mode, utilize it. This setting enables both timelapsed photography and motion detection photography at the same time.
Once the photos start rolling in, that’s the time to begin analyzing the trailcam data. There are many different ways of organizing it, from simply making folders of particular cameras to using more sophisticated ways like dedicated software. Using a specialized software will offer you breakdowns of different animals along with where and when they have been most often spotted.
Putting in a little bit of preparation and organization before the hunting season can make it a more successful season overall. Trail camera maintenance, setup, and organization contribute to making these hunts great.
Photo credit: johnnyberg