There a few things that should be considered in placing and setting up a trail camera to get the best quality. Trail cameras are a great tool to have in order to monitor game coming in and out of a particular area, gauging movement patterns, and just plain old fun. Here are 5 things to ensure your picture quality and better hunting success!
1. Scout First
There is absolutely no point in putting a camera where animals are not. If you are planning on hunting a new area, look for game sign, watering holes, old scrapes or rubs, game trails; anything to let you know there is game in the area. It would sure be a bust to buy a nice camera and only get 1 picture. If you are able to find what looks like a natural mineral or salt lick, then you’ve got it made in the shade. Animals will be coming in and out of this area pretty much all year, so you are all but guaranteed to know all the types of game in that area. If your hunting regulations permit baiting, then set up a bait site or salt lick site and place the camera there. It won’t take very long for the animals to smell it and come right in.
2. Camera Type
There are many different trail camera companies, and they all say they are the best. But in reality, they all use pretty much the same technology. I look for megapixel (MP) size, SD memory card capabilities, “no glow” flash, effective range, and weatherproofing. Megapixel size will effect the clarity of the picture. I wouldn’t recommend going any lower than an 8MP as this starts to get a bit harder to see any dark or night time pictures. Memory card size is important to me because it will let me know that how storage I’m able to hold. If you’re wanting to set the camera to video mode, this will take up significantly more memory, and I don’t like going into my camera spots more often then a week to 10 days at a time, so I need a good size card to hold everything. A good camera should be able to take up to a 32 or even a 64GB card. The “no glow” flash is something that is newer to trail cameras. This allows the use of infrared lights and tinted light coverings to mask the flash of the camera at night so the animals don’t get spooked. Effective range will depend on the movement sensor ability. Typically cameras range between 40 – 50 feet. There are some that have reached past 60 feet, but are usually a bit more pricey. All my cameras have a 50 foot detection range and I haven’t had any issues with animals detecting the cameras and taking off. This also could depend on your the location and where the clearest picture lanes are, so be sure to select the best range f
or your situation. Finally, weather proofing. Most cameras should have, at minimum, a small rubber weather strip lining where the door shuts onto the camera and latches. If you are able to; inspect the lining for thickness and judge its durability. With batteries and memory cards on the inside, the last thing you want is dampness and humidity inside the working parts of the camera. I currently use the Stealth Camera P12 and the Wildgame Innovation Cloak Pro 10. Both have excellent picture quality, weather proofing, range, and night picture quality. I would recommend either of these in a heartbeat.
3. Private vs. Public Land
It might be harder to secure private land for hunting, in which case you may have to set up your cameras on public land. There are a few risks involved with this; the most obvious being theft. There are accessories like lock boxes that can deter people from stealing the camera, but it’s really just a hurdle. Try and set your camera up further back into the bush, but still with a natural clear lane for pictures. Any branches you remove or dirt you disturb may tip someone else that there’s a camera in the area. Also, once people know that there’s a camera in the area, just watch that area fill up with hunters. It is logical to think that if there’s a camera there, there must be game there. And all you need is one blabber mouth to tell the world and you might have just given away your best hunting spot.
I would encourage to always push for private land permission where ever possible. Not only does this give you peace and quiet from the other hunters, but building relationships with farmers and land owners is an important part of hunting. With things like poaching on the rise, the world still needs to know there are respectful and land caring hunters out there willing to work within the confines of someone else’s rules. I have been very fortunate over the past 8 or so years to build relationships with two of the largest land owners in my area and secure over 3000 acres of private hunting land. But that doesn’t come without maybe giving up a few freedoms if necessary to follow someone else’s rules. But the result has been 8 years of full freezers for me and my family, so it’s been well worth it.
If you have cameras all over the country side, how are you able to be consistent in checking them? Do you have a quad trail access or do you have to walk in? Do you have wireless capability on your camera? As much fun as it is checking trail cameras, I’m one for efficiency as well. Both of my trail cameras are strategically placed within an easy walking or quadding distance. And it just worked out that way when I was doing my scouting for placement. However, if you are placing multiple cameras over a large area then maybe consider a wireless transmitting camera. Most areas have cellular service these days and the invention of wireless transmission in trail cameras have a few great benefits. First, being wireless means you don’t need to disturb the area at all. I’m a big fan of not disturbing an area as little as possible until I’m ready to hunt it. Second, if it’s deep in the bush, having the images sent to your email and/or phone save you time and fuel. Yes they are most costly, and you do have to purchase a data plan, but if you’re all in and it saves you the time and miles and disturbing the area; then this is what you might be looking for.
5. Sun Glare
The last small tidbit of information was told to me by a hunting friend about avoiding sun glare in your photos. Especially in the northern hemisphere, over the summer months, the sun will tend rise in the East/NE and set in the West/NW. So if you point your camera facing north, the sun will rise and fall travelling behind the camera avoiding 99% possibility of glare. My one camera, I have no choice but to have it facing NW and in the late evening, I get glare unless it’s cloudy. So take it from experience, face the camera to the north as much as possible for the best quality and anti-glare photos.