Find out how to position your trail cam for the most effective seasonal strategy.
It’s one of the most common questions you will hear after complaining about a disappointing hunting season. You spend an evening venting your frustrations to a fellow hunter about how you just can’t seem to get into a hunting groove this year, and he or she will very likely, at some point in the conversation, ask you whether or not you used trail cameras to help you form a season attack plan.
If your answer is yes, the deer may have simply been spooked, moved to a different location, or not even show up in your captured images. If your answer is no, then you might have some explaining to do.
To be fair, trail cameras are not a guarantee of success by any means. They can be expensive, frustrating to set up and manage – especially for the technologically challenged folks among us – and at the end of the day, they might end up doing you no good at all.
But the truth is, if you are serious about bagging the buck of your dreams this season, you need to give the chase 100 percent of your effort, and that means adding trail cameras to your hunting arsenal.
There are a wide range of trail cams available on the market, and while some are better and easier to use than others, a hunter looking to test out the effectiveness of planting a camera will be able to get by with a cheap, affordable option.
While a more high-end product can make a difference, the success of a trail camera usually isn’t dictated by snazzy add-ons. Instead, a successful trail camera will be one that is placed in the perfect location.
So what is the best location for a trail camera in the hunting field?
Honestly, there is no single answer to that question. If you’ve been hunting a property for a few years, you will probably know where the high traffic areas are for deer – the pathways between bedding areas, food plots, and water sources, for instance.
If you are looking to start hunting a new property, it may be worth a few afternoons of careful scouting to figure out the high traffic spots.
Once you’ve found high-traffic sections, you will have a rough idea of where your trail camera belongs. Set it up a bit out of the way of the common path so as to avoid spooking deer or risking interference from other hunters.
At the same time, however, you need to make sure you aren’t placing the camera too far from where your subjects will be traveling. Most trail cameras have a range of good visual pick-up of between 10 and 20 feet. Keeping your camera within that range of a high traffic area will assure that you get good photos of your potential targets.
The other rules of situating your trail camera are more well-defined.
First of all, try to face the camera in a north or south direction, to avoid excess glare or backlighting from the rising or setting sun. Spray it (and yourself, prior to setting it up) with scent cover.
Next, practice some patience. The urge to check a camera every day is understandable, but giving it a week or even up to 12 days will allow human scent to completely disappear, and give smarter, more mature bucks the chance to be comfortable with the environment you just passed through.
Also, it’s wise to keep a journal of your trail cam findings, with day and time stamps at the very least. This can help develop an idea of where the deer are moving, when they move, and in turn where the best place to set up a blind may be.
Cameras that transmit data to your computer are the best, as they will allow you to monitor your area without spooking deer with unnatural scents or frequent human presence.
What other tips and tricks do you use when setting up trail cams? Share them in the comments below.