Do you wonder what deer are doing when you’re not in the woods? Trail cameras give you that inside look. They’re a fun way to craft hunting strategies by keeping tabs on deer and monitoring their activities.
Trail cameras use a motion sensor to snap pictures when animals walk by. These modern hunting tools have excellent battery life and store thousands of images on an SD card for easy uploading to computers. Some cameras even email pictures over cellular networks.
Location, Location, Location
A trail camera placed near food sources or mineral sites provides an excellent way to survey a property’s deer herd. You’ll get many images and obtain insights into the herd’s size and the age class of its deer.
Intersections of multiple trails are ideal for ambushing deer and placing trail cameras. You’ll catch deer as they travel between bedding and feeding areas, and gain valuable information on their movement patterns.
Placement and Settings
Trail cameras have several “capture” modes, such as video, burst, single-photo and time-lapse. Once you select the mode, you customize the settings to suit your needs and the situation. Most bowhunters use a single photo with a 10-second delay between photos. If you place your camera over a food source or mineral site where deer often congregate, you’ll probably want a longer delay between photos to keep the camera’s card from filling with repeat images.
Animals are most active around sunrise and sunset. For quality photos at those times, make sure your camera isn’t facing into a rising or setting sun. Point it north and you’ll have fewer overexposed pictures. In general, north-facing cameras capture the best pictures, and setting it waist-high puts the sensor at the right height for deer. However, if you’re monitoring public land, mount the camera above eye level and point it downward to avoid unwanted attention.
When to Check Your Camera
Wildlife are sensitive to human activity. Checking your trail cameras often can change deer habits and make them avoid the area, especially in daylight. Checking your camera every other week or even monthly reduces your impact. You can further improve your odds by checking your cameras at midday when deer are least active, or during a rain, which washes away scent. Also consider wearing rubber boots to reduce scents you leave behind.
Trail cameras are excellent scouting tools, and provide a fun activity that engages bowhunters with wildlife year-round. Get in on the fun by buying a trail camera from a nearby archery shop. To locate that shop, click here.