Be Effective & Efficient With the Right Trail Camera Equipment
I’ve been effectively running trail cameras for about five years now. In my early days, there wasn’t much to it. I felt that I could gather all of the useful data that I was looking for by simply strapping a 35mm trail camera to a tree and letting it do the work. Over the years I learned that if you are going to use trail cameras, you will need to invest in (or build) some trail camera equipment. This trail camera equipment will help you use them effectively and efficiently. With these tools I can set, check, and maintain all of my trail cameras quickly with minimal disturbance to the wildlife that I am trying to pursue.
There is nothing more frustrating than pictures of nothing but landscape. Blowing grass and weeds will make a trail camera go nuts! A few years ago I decided that I needed something that would cut the weeds down in the detection area of the camera. It couldn’t be heavy or bulky, and I didn’t want it to leave a bunch of scent wherever I was using it. Using a weed eater was out of the question. I found what I was looking for at a local hardware store. With a 30” handle, and a 10” blade, I can remove grass and weeds easily with just a few swings. Removing vegetation from the area around your camera not only helps in mis-triggers, but it also lets your camera take clearer pictures. I also use mine to move limbs, spider webs, and tall grass out of my way as I hike.
Tree Saw/ Pruning Shears
Sometimes the perfect location on a tree may need a little work to fit the camera. I like to carry pruning shears and a tree saw to take care of small limbs that may be in the way of camera mounting, or in the camera’s field of view. You can find both either in the lawn and garden department at your local hardware store or in any store that sells sporting goods. My favorite set has been the Fiskars brand saw and shear. Not only are they reasonably priced, they cut very quickly and last a long time.
Not every spot has the perfect tree or post to strap a camera to. Sometimes it is necessary to use some type of stand or screw in mount to get the camera set at the right height and pointing in the right direction. One good thing about being a welder is that I can use my fabrication skills to enhance my hunting hobby. Most of my cameras have a built in mount that will screw onto a ¼- 20 bolt. I weld together tripods to stick into the ground and screw a camera onto the bolt welded to the top. That allows me to place a camera where there aren’t any trees or posts to mount to. This works really well when I set up on a food plot to take time lapse photos.
I also weld a ¼- 20 bolt to the end of screw in tree steps. The screw in mounts are great for crooked trees and eliminates the need to level your cameras with sticks behind them. If you do not have the resources to build your own mounting systems, there are also a ton of options available at your local sporting goods store and online.
No matter how safe and hidden you think your location is, there’s always a chance that someone will trespass and help themselves to whatever equipment they come across. I have had more cameras stolen during shed hunting season than any other time of the year. I started using cable locks as an anti-theft device. Different companies sell these and they all work great on most cameras. I have so many cameras that I needed to find a cheaper method to keep mine safe. I go to the local retail store and buy bicycle locks for under ten dollars apiece. Sometimes it takes a little bit of modification to make them fit my cameras. Of course it’s worth the effort to keep them from getting stolen.
There are many reasons I carry a card reader when I am checking trail cameras. Not only are they handy for looking through pictures out in the field, they also help me diagnose problems with my trail cameras. If my card fills up to quickly, my new batteries don’t last, or the camera shows an error, I can use my card reader to help find out where things went wrong.
I’ll be the first to tell you that not all card readers are created equal. Some devices are like a small tablet that take standard SD cards and others plug into your smart phone. I went through a few different kinds before I found one that I like. My preference is one that plugs into my iPhone made by Common Hunter. I like this one over others because it has an extension that allows me to keep the case on my phone. Not to mention the app doesn’t shut down during viewing like other readers I have used.
Some of my cameras are pretty hard to get to. It’s pretty frustrating to find a camera with problems after a long, hot walk through a corn field. I learned a long time ago to go in prepared. I used a regular old backpack for years. Then Moultrie came out with a camera bag specifically tailored for trail camera equipment. The backpack is fine, but it’s unorganized. With the camera bag, there are specific spots for trail cameras, SD cards, batteries, tools, and any of the other thing that I want to take with me. Not only do I like the organization, I also like the fact that my cameras aren’t getting bounced and jostled around as I walk.
Running multiple trail cameras in different areas can be a daunting task to say the least. Having the right trail camera equipment is crucial to operating them effectively and efficiently. Not only does it make your life easier, it also makes your time in the woods more productive and worthwhile.
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