Knowing how to analyze trail cam photos will make you more successful.
Photo via Trophy Rock
Trail cam photos have increased hunter success rates, improved wildlife management and provided a catalog of wildlife encounters. But trail cam use is much more than just taking pictures. Knowing how to read the photos is vital to making the most of the information. These 8 things to look for in trail cam photos will help you succeed.
When analyzing your trail cam photos, note the direction that the animal came from and where it went to. Once you figure out your trophy’s travel path you can make sure your stand is downwind and you are prepared for the animals to come into range.
Time is essential. You need to be on your stand long before you expect the game to arrive. When you can pin down the time period that game frequents the area you can minimize your time in the blind and maximize your results.
Note what animals are traveling together. If you know two bucks are together, you will also know to wait for the rest of them. If you did not know about the other buck(s) you might shoot a smaller one in haste. In the case of bears, a sow with cubs that keeps returning might be a good reason to go hunt another stand.
4. Posture and disposition
When animals are undisturbed and continue to be relaxed as they travel they are more likely to come back on the same path. The buck in this photo is content. He is not worried. He is likely to be back on the same path tomorrow. A highly alert or anxious posture means there is a high risk that the animals will vary its route.
5. Moon phase and sun position
Note the moon in this photo. It can be seen on the top edge just left of center. This buck is feeding in the middle of the night. If you wait until the moon is not visible you are much more likely to catch him out in the late evening and early morning. If your trail cam has a moon phase feature, always set it and pay attention to it.
6. Length of Stay
Figuring out the length of stay actually requires analyzing a series of photos and noting the times. On food plots and feeders this will help you to determine when all the animals traveling together have made their appearance. It will also give you and idea of how long you have to get into position for a good shot before the animals depart.
7. Barometric Pressure
If your trail cam has barometric pressure reading, look closely at it. Big game animals are sensitive to changes in pressure. Travel patterns, feeding times, travel partners and even disposition are effected by barometric pressure. Match the time, temperature and pressure shown on your trail cam photo by watching the weather reports and you are likely to see the same animals again.
Temperature effects game movement tremendously. If you see game at a food source, or using a travel route you need to note the temperature. When the actual temperature is the same or less than that noted on your trail cam photo, be in that stand. The game is likely to hit the same spots in response to the outside temperature.