Camera technology in general is advancing at a rapid rate and trail cameras are no exception. They have become a useful tool for hunters both in locating animals and in patterning their behavior. They are now standard hunting gear, particularly for big game hunters who can capture an image of elk or deer without invading their habitat. Trail cameras are an inexpensive method of identifying the size of deer on your property and determining whether or not it is worth your time to hunt there. They can also help you decide which deer you want to harvest and which you want to let grow for another year.
Modern trail cameras have a variety of features to aid in your hunting success. The time/date stamp on images informs you not only of the animals on the property, but when they are traveling. This one piece of information lets you know whether to be in your stand at daybreak when that big buck is heading back to his bedding area or during the evening hours as he leaves it to forage for food.
The infrared feature allows you to capture nighttime images without alerting either the animal or other humans in the area. While these images are often not as sharp and clear as those taken with an incandescent flash, the infrared allows you to record your prey under any conditions without being detected.
The motion sensor detects movement which activates the camera trigger. Some models have trigger speeds of 1/3 of a second, allowing you to capture the image of a buck in pursuit of a doe only a few feet ahead of him. This feature may require a little forethought and labor in order for it to be most beneficial to you. Since they are motion activated, you will want to clear leaves and small branches from in front of the lens so you don’t end up with pictures of weeds swaying in the breeze.
Some models record video as well as still photos. This feature is useful to the hunter in patterning deer behavior at various times of the year. During the summer, when deer are traveling in bachelor groups, much information can be gained by watching the interaction of group members. As the rut approaches, you can find your big buck as he establishes his territory by making scrapes and rubs. During the rut, you may record bucks in search of does. And after the season, images of bucks that survived will be captured and you can start to plan for next year’s season.
Finally, the modern digital trail cameras allow you to record nearly 2,000 images on an SD card which can be uploaded to your computer and viewed immediately. They’ve come a long way since the time of film cameras which allowed you to take 36 pictures, wait for them to be developed and then look at the few good ones that were recorded.