It seems most hunters now have trail cameras of some sort. This is for good reason. There are many things that a trail camera can reveal, and from a management standpoint, there is no greater tool.
There are many tips and tactics one needs to know when it comes to orienting trail cameras and where to situate them at. Before any of that can be done, you must understand what your camera is capable of and what various models are available on the market.
There are a few key things to keep in mind and understand when buying a trail camera. First off, check out the memory capacity and battery life. Even the newest camera isn’t going to benefit you if the memory capacity is limited or the batteries die after a few days. Most models now use at least 2GB memory chips, but different models vary. Some cameras use C cell batteries, some use AA batteries, and most camera offer an available external battery source for extended life. Battery life and storage capacity are equally important and should be the first things you consider.Secondly, where you will have the camera situated should be considered. Cameras with slower trigger speeds are not useless, you just have to know where and how to situate them. They work best on feeders, mineral sites, and places where the deer will be milling around for a few minutes and not quickly passing through. On the other hand, quicker shutter speeds can be used for deer paths and funnels, and are an overall more versatile camera. Some camera models offer a burst mode option, which takes multiple photos when triggered. This is ideal for camera situated on deer paths and trails. The lead deer may trigger the camera and then the flowing deer can be captured on film by the burst mode imaging. This would not happen with a single photo option, and you wouldn’t know if the deer was traveling alone of in a group.
Cameras with a time-lapse feature are relatively new and are ideal for small food plots and fields. These cameras have many options but they usually take a sequence of photos throughout the day that when played through, appear to be a video, similar to a flipbook. This is also great for keeping tabs on any wildlife that ventures into a field but may not be close enough to trigger the camera, if it were set on photo or video mode. Videos are also fun to set up and this depends on the location. Creek banks, field edges, and scrapes are a great places to capture a short video of a buck working a scrape or a turkey strutting.
Note that while video and time-lapse camera options are great, they are nearly impossible to conduct trail camera surveys for deer herd density. The formulas necessary for determining the buck: doe ratio requires still images and not time-lapse sequences or videos.
Trail cameras are the land manager’s best management tool but they must be used properly and must have the right model selected in order to get the most bang for your buck. By keeping these few tips in mind you can save yourself some time and frustration and help you monitor you land more effectively.
Andrew Walters is an Edgecombe County native and spends much of his time pursuing wild game and fishing across eastern North Carolina with his family and his fiancé, Noelle. His passion for the outdoors was the driving force that led him to North Carolina State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Science in 2014. He was the President of the NCSU Quality Deer Management Association club and continues to be an avid member of QDMA. After graduating, he earned his real estate license and joined the Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms team in Greenville, NC. He is a freelance outdoor writer and has had a number of featured articles in the Wildlife in NC magazine, as well as, Mossy Oak Gamekeepers. Andrew is also a major contributor to the Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms weekly blog, the Management Minute. His extensive knowledge of wildlife management coupled with his ability to identify plant and tree species provides him the unique ability to help clients not only identify, but manage their property to maximum potential. Andrew’s enthusiasm and knowledge enables him to properly navigate the channels necessary in “finding your favorite place” outdoors, as well as, developing a wildlife management plan specifically tailored for your piece of ground. Contact Andrew today to find out how he can help you find and manage your next dream property.
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