Pre-Season scouting is well underway literally everywhere. Western hunters are putting miles on the boots hours behind glass, and the Whitetail guys are working their ground, hanging cameras and putting stands up.
It is an exciting time of the year to be in the field in preparation for this passion of ours. For this week's Tech Tip Tuesday, we are going to be focusing on trail cameras. Where, how and why we hang them.
Trail cameras are an invaluable tool for all hunters, from our Western Big game guys to the White Tail obsessed folks out in the Midwest. They are eyes in the woods when we aren't there. They help us establish our "hit list" and help us narrow down travel patterns, migration corridors, and so much more.
So, where do you hang your cameras? Obviously, where you think your target is going to be. This begins with getting boots on the ground and looking for sign. Game trails, rubs, track, scat, etc.
So once you've got some miles on the boots and you have found some sign, it's time to hang your cameras. Typically I hang mine (on private land) about 3' to 4' off the ground. I try to get the camera to be at eye level with the Deer.
You've got the location, you have your height figured out, now we need to find the best way to get good pictures. Think about a regular camera when it comes to this portion. Are you going to shoot directly into the sun? Absolutely not, so don't point your cameras at the sun. I.E. East or west. Ya, know because the sun sets and rises in those directions. Be careful with south-facing cameras as well especially moving into the summer and spring. Do your best to keep those shots facing north. This will help eliminate any sort of washout from the sun.
Have you ever bought a camera, popped it open only to get blown away by all the settings? A saying that I used to say when I was in the military was "use the K.I.S.S. method. Keep it simple, stupid.
I run my cameras on picture mode and only picture mode. That is simply because videos take up to much storage space when storage is already limited. Now, I guess I can't say I only run picture mode because if I have a stud buck consistently showing up on a camera, I need to know what direction he will be approaching from. Why? Well, So I know what tree to set up in with my saddle. (we will touch on those at a later time)
Another setting you need to be aware of is how many photos you're capturing per trigger. There are several schools of thought on this one. On a trail, I would bump that number up so you are capturing several deer with a single trigger. If you've set up near a feeding source, do you really need 100s of photos of the same deer feeding? Probably not. Plus this will save you some space.
A tactic I also like to use is marking all my spots with BaseMaps or OnX Maps. (Wish I had a promo code for you guys - I'll work on that) 1. So I don't forget what tree I hung my camera on. Secondly, it gives me a "high level" view of my hunt plans for the fall. I have mineral blocks, gravity feeders, and all my food plots mapped on my BaseMap app. Once pictures start coming in, those pictures will also go into my app(s) so I can start to really pattern these deer and increase my odds for success in the upcoming season. After all, that is what we are after, right?
So you've been out in the field all day, setting cameras. You've got your settings correct, you've done your due diligence to face them all north and you've only managed to take 30 pictures of yourself in the process. WHEN DO YOU GO CHECK THEM!
Honestly for me, checking cameras is a lot like Christmas morning, and I can hardly wait to see what we've got! But patients are key here. Every time we enter the woods we leave behind our scent and I don't care if you have the worlds greatest scent blocker on we still leave a trace and these critters will know it.
Watch the weather. Wait for rain. If it is going to rain on Friday get out there on Thursday and pull cards. Why? Rain will help wash away your scent when you're in the field. If you can't wait for rain try to go in the heat of the day. As we know the game we pursue is most active at dawn and dusk.
Your cameras on the edge of timber can be checked more often than those that are tucked away deep in the timber in a little honey hole food plot you didn't even tell your brother in law about (sshhhh) Simply because it is more difficult to access those spots and you can bump your Deer.
Most importantly, get out there learn and make mistakes. Try several different approaches but most importantly every time you get in the field it's a learning opportunity. Write down what you've done and reflect after the season. Did it work? yes cool, expand on it. It didn't work? That's hunting. Review your plan, and make adjustments for later in the season or next year.
I run several different kinds of cameras and Browning is one of those. It takes great pictures, is very user friendly (especially for us less techy folks) and you can get them at a decent price! Plus Amazon says it can get here "tomorrow." So if you haven't gotten your cameras out yet, hurry up!
Keep Climbing - Logan