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Getting the Most Out of Your Trail Camera

Posted on May 13 2017

Getting the Most Out of Your Trail Camera

It’s a safe assumption that almost every outdoorsman and woman owns at least 1 trail camera these days.  And boy has the industry come a long way in game trail monitoring.  Consider that 30-years-ago the string Trail Timer was introduced. This little gadget used a string across the trail that, when tripped, would register the date and time that a deer walked past.  Today, there are numerous companies offering train cameras that take pictures, video – in black and white or color, infrared, and even wireless cameras that will send pictures to your email or cell phone!

I feel trail cameras, if used properly, can be a very effective tool to increasing your success during hunting season.  Whatever camera brand you prefer, (I use Covert Scouting Cameras)  the most important thing to remember is to use quality batteries. Don’t use rechargeable or generic batteries.  They just don’t last as long in colder weather, and there is nothing worse than going to check your camera and finding its been dead for the last 2 weeks due to cheap batteries running out of juice.

Next make sure you have a few extra SD cards on hand when checking your camera.  I’ll number them, to match up the cards with each camera, and swap them out in the field.  It saves time when viewing your pictures later in the comfort of your home or truck.

After swapping out the SD cards, cover the camera lens and spray or wipe down the unit with your favorite scent killing product.  You’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking that I’m being a little OCD with spraying down a trail camera.  Well answer this, how many times have you gotten what I call deer selfies?    Pictures of eyes, noses, ears etc.   This isn’t due to that particular deer trying to make the cover of Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, it is most likely smelling scent that you left behind on the camera or strap used to hold it on the tree.  Most of us put out cameras in late July or August when it is usually hot, and walk out to the camera spot carrying the camera by its strap.  Even just holding the camera body in your hand is enough to leave a long-lasting scent all over them.    

Another common mistake is putting a trail camera on the same tree that holds your stand.  Not a good idea!  Sure, everyone wants to see that bruiser buck right near your stand set up, but if your tree shares a stand and camera you will probably never get a shot.  Why you ask?     If I was to put a camera out say the last 2 weeks of July and check it every 2 to 3 weeks before the archery opener here in NY, I would have 6 or so trips to camera site (my stand site) leaving behind a great deal of scent and possibly bumping a mature buck into another area of your land or worse, my neighbor’s property!  Keep your cameras at least 50-75 yards away from your stand, and try to check them whenever rain is forecast to help wash away your scent.

During hunting season we all try our best to be scent free, right?     Well let’s just add scent awareness to our trail monitoring as well.