Understanding Trail Cameras
The most basic game management tool available to hunters is also one of the cheapest. It seems that most land managers have at least one trail camera but the problem is that many don’t know how to properly use the camera’s capabilities or orient the units correctly. Here are a few tips that will help you get the most from your cameras or assist you in choosing a model when purchasing your next camera.
The first consideration is how much an individual unit costs. There are various models that serve many different uses and while some basic model cameras may lack features, they are still capable of taking crisp pictures. It is recommended that you set up a camera for every 40 acres but I as long as the pictures reveal you are not pressuring wildlife, you can setup many more units. The key is to only check your cameras once every 2-3 weeks and when you do just slip in and out quietly and don’t explore any more than you have to.
The most common mistake I see in trail camera photos is the orientation of the camera on the tree. Many camera manufactures make mounting brackets that fit their cameras, they are not always necessary, but they will allow more elastically when locating camera locations. Avoid facing them east or west. Most cameras have improved enough so that the sun won’t over expose photos but there is nothing more aggravating than having hundreds of pictures that are whited out. By orienting the cameras north and south you are eliminating this problem.
Some cameras have fast trigger speeds and will capture pictures long before others even detect an animal is nearby. These cameras are great for being set up on actual deer trails. Other cameras that have slower detection speeds need to be set up over mineral sites and feeders, which will attract deer and keep them hanging around for a few minutes. When setting up cameras on deer trails, place them a quartering 45 degree angle. This will take a picture with the whole deer in the frame and probably capture any trailing deer. If you place a camera perpendicular to a deer trail you will be more likely to have pictures of the back half of a deer.
A full length article about the capabilities and orientation of trail cameras will be featured in the Fall Issue of Mossy Oak Gamekeepers-Farming for Wildlife Journal.
~ Andrew Walters. Mossy Oak Properties
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