Trail cameras can be incredibly helpful, if you’re using them correctly.
Go to your local outdoor store and there’s likely an aisle full of trail cameras. Advancements in technology have really pushed things forward in the last few decades. Modern cameras have infrared lenses, see motion out to 100 feet, and can send images directly to your email. With all of these advancements, there are some general tips we should follow to get the most benefit out of the technology.
Face Them North or South
Why does direction matter? Well, on one hand it doesn’t. You can point that camera whatever direction you’d like. However, if you’d like to ensure the best quality images, avoid pointing that camera in directions where the sun could be rising or setting. Deer activity is typically highest in the early morning and late evening hours, right when the sun offers a nasty backdrop for those pictures of your next trophy. Avoid the conflict with sunlight in your images by directing your camera towards the north or south where there will be less light interference.
Don’t Check Them Too Often
Unless you have a camera that sends the images to your email or phone, you’ll need to make a trip back to the woods every time you want to check your images. This can be a significant problem for those who are impatient. Checking your camera too often may alter the natural deer behavior in your area.
Deer are extremely habitual creatures. If you want to pattern that big buck, stay out of his way. That means only checking your cameras as often as you need to in order to make plans or change cards and batteries.
Use Video Mode
Ok, not always. Throughout the spring and summer, it’ll eat up a significantly more amount of your memory card if you capture in video mode. It’ll be much easier to file away images of your buck and track progress in still photo form. However, as fall and the rut rolls around, consider switching to video mode. Most cameras have a delay feature. This is done to prevent too many images of the same deer. For example, let’s say you have a deer in front of your camera for 2 minutes. If your camera has a 15 second delay, it will capture around 8 pictures of that deer. If your camera has a one minute delay, it will only capture two images.
So why would I switch to video mode? Good question. When the rut approaches and bucks being pushing and chasing does, a doe will often run past a camera triggering the image. If that camera has a delay setting that’s too long, the camera will not capture any evidence of that buck, even though it ran right in front of the camera. When you switch to video mode, the doe triggers the camera and a short recording starts. Watching these videos, it’s very common for a mature buck to be following and chasing that doe a few seconds later. If you want to increase your odds of seeing every deer on your property in the fall, try switching to video mode.
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