Trail cameras are a great way to document animal movement in an area, and figure out where you should be setting up when you’re hunting deer and other game. They’re only as good as their placement, though, which is why you should take a few things into consideration when you’re setting up your own cameras.
When placing your camera, here are a few tips to follow beforehand:
- Stay organized. Numbering cameras, keeping GPS locations of their placement, and general organization are all the best ways to stay on top of your trail camera systems, which are likely to evolve as you figure out what works best for your area. GPS locations in particular are good to keep on a list, with back ups, so that you know where and when you may need to make a replacement if necessary. Worst case scenario, they can also help you to quickly track and collect all of your cameras.
- Stay updated. Cameras are hardware, but they’re only as functional as their software allows, now that most have moved up to the high grade digital scale. Camera software can help with tracking, motion detection, and overall quality of picture and functionality. Most companies offer upgraded software suites for free that come along with the camera itself, along with free updates for both the software itself, and for the firmware that the camera may use.
- Stay hidden. A well placed camera should blend into the scenery so that it doesn’t disturb the wildlife, but more importantly, it should be hard to spot for people that may be interested in selling your camera at a pawn shop. The more well hidden the camera, the less likely you will be to become a victim of theft. If all else fails, you can also secure your camera in place with security cables, which are difficult to cut and nearly impossible to move from the tree, short of cutting it down.
- Stay focused. That doesn’t just relate to you; your camera needs to actually have a great shot of the area that you’re filming, and that means having both the right focus, and the right positioning. Test your camera and make sure that it’s looking exactly where you need it to. You can use decoys, or just a regular, human friend, to test the positioning and angle. If you’re really a perfectionist, you should do this throughout the different times of the day so that you can more accurately determine the camera’s effectiveness in different lighting.
As far as camera placement is concerned, it’s best to angle your camera to the trail’s natural contours, and to point it south, so that you don’t get any sun glaring into the lens.
Angling your camera toward the trail will give you much more time to and distance to catch any game movement, and as for avoiding the sun, you don’t want to miss any shots due to a bright lens flare obscuring most, or even all, of your screen.
By angling your camera away from the sun, you also greatly reduce the chance of that lens reflecting any light and getting any unwanted attention, either from animals or from any potential thieves that may be on the lookout for a nice camera to sell.
Don’t Forget to Archive!
Keep your footage on memory chips or sticks, and make sure you keep them organized. If you’re trying to collect information on a trail that can span different times of the year, these archives may help you to narrow down movements of different game that could make it far easier once the season rolls around again.
Naming your archives according to date and GPS location would be your best bet. Although it may sound like a complicated endeavor, the entire system of archiving can be done fairly quickly.
If you aren’t familiar with Excel spreadsheet, you may want to learn its usage so that you can make a master list of your footage, where it was taken, when, and other important information that you can add to the columns. For the less technologically inclined, a paper list should suffice.