Trail cameras are more popular than ever, but the ability to capture wildlife images remotely has been around a long time.
In fact, Moultrie, Cuddeback, Bushnell and all the other trail-camera companies might want to thank outdoor-lover George Shiras III, who in the 1880s invented the first trail camera. His was a ridiculously large contraption that relied on a baited trap, tripwires and an automated flash bulb that, when triggered, ignited an explosion of magnesium that spooked many of the deer in his photographs.
The photographs from Shiras’ trail cameras were captured on glass plates, and he used dangerous compounds like mercury to develop them in his darkroom.
Meanwhile, today’s trail cameras take digital photos using infrared flashes, and include information such as the time and date, moon phase and temperature. They can also take HD video, and their images are detailed enough to print as wall posters. Of course, the leading destination for trail-cam photos is the internet, and these days it’s easier than ever to share photos.
It’s also easier than ever to view your trail-cam photos. Not long ago, disks from trail cameras had to be carried back to deer camp, where you transferred the images to a computer to see what ran past the lens. When Apple released its iPad to a tech-hungry world, it also developed a USB-based camera kit for iPads that made the process even easier. This let wildlife enthusiasts upload photos directly to the iPad while standing beside their trail cam.
Similarly, StealthCam, Moultrie, Wildgame Innovations and other companies developed trail-cam photo viewers, which range in price and storage capability.
For iPhone users, the process has gotten even easier and less expensive. Many iPhone users consider their phone their primary camera, and with Facebook reporting over 1 billion mobile users daily, many iPhone users want instant access to their trail-cam photos, along with the ability to upload them to Facebook and other social media.
Message received: Introducing Apple’s Lightning to SD card reader. This little gadget uses Apple’s newest, fastest data-transfer technology to quickly upload trail-camera images to your iPhone. It’s available online or at big-box retailers for $29.99. Once you upload your photos to your phone, you can browse them in the photo viewer, and use your photo-editing mobile apps to crop, colorize, saturate and filter your photos to your liking.
Adobe’s Photoshop Express app (and others) is great for color grading, and it’s free (with in-app purchases). After your photo looks its best, upload it to your favorite online destinations.
If you’re holding out on using trail cams, let it be for the challenge of the hunt, and not because of convenience factors. You don’t have to carry anything more than you normally carry, and you can sit in your treestand and dream about that big buck your camera captured. Talk about great motivation to get outside!
If you like the idea of tracking wildlife and would love to give bowhunting a try, find a bowhunting shop in your community and talk to an expert, get some instruction and meet like-minded people.