Once again, it’s time to get your trail cameras out and see what’s growing. Have the fawns dropped yet? Did the big buck you were hunting last year survive? And how are his antlers shaping up for this year? Are the deer and turkey using your salt licks, feeders and/or food plots? Trail cameras can help answer all these questions.
I have been a fan of Moultrie cameras for several years now. This year, I will be utilizing the new Moultrie M-880 model along with a few of the Game Spy Management Systems. The Game Spy cameras will be used to help catch trespassers and poachers.
Tips for getting the most out of your trail cameras:
Use good quality batteries, such as lithium Energizer or Duracell brand.
Use high quality SD cards, preferably Moultrie brand or an equivalent. SD cards must have a 2 or above in the little circle on the front (looks like an @ sign, but it’s a number in the circle). A 4 would be necessary for video. Using a low quality SD card can actually corrupt your trail camera.
I recommend 2 SD cards per camera. Make sure to turn your camera off when switching SD cards. With 2 cards you can replace the full card with pictures for the blank one. Your camera will still be up and running, while you view your full card of pictures at home.
I don’t recommend using your point-and-shoot digital camera to view your pictures. Some cameras put a file on your SD card, and this can cause your card not to function when you put it back in your trail camera.
Make sure to trim any limbs and ground growth around or in front of the camera. There is nothing more disappointing than 500+ pictures of a tree limb blowing and moving.
Place the camera on a tree about waist high or slightly lower, and make sure it is level with the ground.
Don’t face the camera directly west or east. The sun will affect the quality of your pictures (washing them out,) and the heat may trigger the infra-red sensors.
When placing a camera on a trail, angle it up or down the trail. Do not place it directly perpendicular to the trail.
Place cameras at a funnel overlooking a food plot or field, at a creek crossing or bottlenecks. Mock scrapes or natural scrapes would also be great locations to target bucks.
I like to place a Trophy Rock or Moultrie feeder in front of my cameras. Food sources give the deer a reason to linger and move around in front of my camera; potentially giving multiple photos and different angles of the deer.
If you are worried about your cameras getting stolen, there are a couple things you can do to try to deter theft. One is using a coated cable and small padlock on the camera. The other is placing the cameras higher up on the tree, along with using the cable and lock. You might need to angle the camera down a little, if you do this. (Placing the camera up higher in the tree can affect the distance and range of the sensors.) I pull my ATV up to the tree, and climb up on the rack in order to place the cameras out of reach from someone on the ground. I use a small limb to adjust the angle of the camera when necessary. This is where a Moultrie 4.3” Picture and Video Viewer or equivalent camera comes in handy.
Placing your trail cameras in your hunting area 2 to 3 months before hunting season will let you gather information about where you need to be on opening day. While this is important, the most critical information will be what you gather from the week prior to your hunt.
Trail cameras aren’t just for catching images of wildlife. They can also be used for security purposes and possibly catching trespasser or thieves. If you’re looking for a camera to use in a security application I recommend the M-990i, “no glow” infrared mini cam.
I put my cameras out in Missouri last week and will be making a trip to the farm I hunt in Southern Illinois in the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait to see what’s going on in the areas I hunt!