Apart from using trail cameras for security monitoring within your property, they can also be applied in other areas such as wildlife management, hunting, amateur, and hobby photography. It is a simple but sure method to capture scenic views of landscapes or just track the movement of particular animals of interest without visiting the woods day after day. Make your educational trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway by setting up trail cams at distinct spots to obtain photos and videos of wildlife and visitors within specified period of time.
However, setting up the cameras correctly is one of the most important things every hunter should know. Therefore, here are useful tips to help you set up your trail cameras and achieve the best out of them.
- Identify a Suitable Location for a Trail Camera
Depending on what you want, the best locations to place a camera are along the major trails, tree-stands, water/ food sources, or at trail junctions. Basically, you need to choose ‘hot spots’ where animals usually visit. For hunters, placing a camera on small clearings near bedding cover where you can see trails entering and leaving is an ideal method to get good footages.
- Mount the Camera on a Firm Solid
A tree, log, or post can be appropriate for mounting the camera to prevent from falling during windy times. You can secure the camera using lag bolts, but remember to leave the device pointing at the place of interest. Some animals such as bears can identify the camera and knock it, and therefore tightening it with bolts on a security box will even prevent you from re-positioning it regularly. In case you don’t have a security box, a strap and python lock can be a better alternative because the camera will not move whenever you unlock to check it. Once the camera is mounted firmly, you can camouflage it to prevent other people from seeing it.
- Ensure the Camera is mounted at an Ideal Height
The height will depend on the targeted animals, as well as the topography of the landscape. Deer hunters can hang the camera at 28 inches off the ground so that the footage can cover the entire details of the animal. However, for turkeys, just 20 inches or less off the ground is enough to take a fine shot. If the terrain is sloping, you need to identify the angle based on the mounting height that will capture a wide field. Typically, the idea is allowing the camera to obtain a wide field, probably at the chest height of the animal.
- Ensure Proper Aiming
This is one of the challenging things among hunters, but you can do it correctly if you know the trick. The camera should be placed in such a way that the animal will be captured perfectly before it disappears from the device’s detection zone. If a camera is set perpendicular to the direction of the trail, probably it will miss the perfect shot because already the animal will have left the detection zone. To achieve the best aim, place the camera pointing down on a major trail, ensuring the area is centered within the camera’s focus. Some areas don’t have visible major trails or trail junctions, but you can position the camera on a tree pointing down so that it can capture whenever an animal moves by.
- Security of the Camera
Most hunters forget about the security of their cameras, and it might be quite discouraging to find that someone just stole the device. If you have been hunting in various woods, many are times when you find cameras hanging on trees pointing at piles of baits. Others are just strapped and left to capture photos and videos, but not considering the risk of those untrustworthy people. If you have been hunting for quite some time, and you use trail cameras frequently, maybe you have found a funny video of someone looking at the camera. If that person didn’t steal it, why should you risk again? It is advisable to use a security box, or just strap and python lock to ensure the camera is safe. When the camera is firmly mounted, a thief may not want to spend more time trying to unbolt or unlock it. Of course, no one will be willing to come back with tools to uninstall the camera. www.trailcameralab.com is a great resource to dig for.
Lastly, let us talk briefly about the ‘checking time’ – after placing a camera and going back to check photos or videos. Actually, there is no defined time frame for that, as long as your camera’s batteries won’t die or the SD cards won’t fill up. To avoid too many videos and photos that will take you a lot of time to analyze, just consider checking once after every two weeks. However, checking time may also depend on seasons because animals tend to change their moving patterns and behaviors seasonally.