These products will help keep your gear safe this year.
There is nothing worse than a trail camera or treestand thief. You work long and hard for your money and when someone steals that expensive piece of hunting equipment, it can be extremely frustrating.
Which is why we're constantly on the lookout for ways to deter criminals from taking our hunting gear.
These products and methods will help you keep your expensive cameras and stands safe this year.
One of the simplest methods is usually the most effective too. Now, we should make a point of saying that locks aren't a guaranteed deterrent. A determined thief is going to get your camera or stand if they want it badly enough. But that's no reason to make it easy for them!
A lock will usually stop most people who might steal a camera out of convenience or just simple opportunity. After all, it is hundreds of dollars you're just leaving in the woods. For some people, that's hard to pass up if there are bills to pay and they see something they can sell for a quick buck. But most people aren't going to be prepared with a pair of bolt or wire cutters, so a lock is a good deterrent.
When looking at locks and cables, I'd say go with a key lock. You'll see plenty of cable locks that use combination locks. I've even heard of some hunters using cable bike locks. Again, you should probably go with a key.
For some reason, these cheaper combo locks, especially the ones integrated into a cable, don't seem to hold up under the elements. I have seen way too many lock up or fail after being exposed to the rain, snow and cold for some time. I've even seen some fall apart completely! Most combo locks are just not made for sitting in the elements of the woods for a long time.
I've used these Master Lock Python trail camera locks before to good success. Whether I'm locking a camera or a stand, I always try to pull the cable as taught as I can get it on the tree. Don't leave a space where a thief can easily slip a bolt cutter around the cable.
This Muddy lock is made specifically for use with treestands. It includes an integrated cable lock that utilizes a key system. It also includes a cover that slides over the key opening to protect the lock internals from the elements we discussed earlier. This one has high ratings from users on Cabela's.
An even better option than a lock integrated into a cable is a security cable with your choice of padlock. This Brinks security cable is seven feet long and a little large for trail cameras. However, something like this is a great option for your largest and nicest ladder stands.
If you own your own private land and can keep your trail camera hidden well, you might not need heavy-duty security measures. This interesting product uses a steel band tightening system to lock the trail camera to the tree. It's not 100 percent thief-proof, but it will keep your neighbors honest if they happen to cross over your line and see it. This system should also make it harder for bears to remove your camera from a tree.
Mount your camera high
Another option for public land or other areas where there are other hunters is to mount your camera above eye level. Most would-be camera thieves aren't going to be looking up high. Of course, most trail cameras aren't designed to be attached at an angle. You can rectify this by using something like the bracket below.
This HME Camera Mount is adjustable, so you can set it to any angle. This does make putting trail cameras out more work, but if you put a camera 10 feet up a tree with no branches to reach it, the odds of a casual theft of the camera, even if spotted, are low.
Another plus of mounting a camera like this is the lower profile of the mount. Sometimes the strap of a camera can be a dead giveaway to a device's location in the woods.
This Economy Trail Cam Holder allows vertical adjustments and a circular rotation element. The screw-in style isn't suitable for everywhere, but it does allow you to quickly and discreetly mount your camera out of the sight of would-be camera thieves.
Bugging your gear
One great aspect of ever-advancing GPS technology: some things have been developed to help deter theft. Right now, there are a slew of miniature GPS tracking devices on the market that can be operated right through your smart phone.
If you have continual problems with theft on your land, this is how you bring it to a screeching halt. This GPS tracking device is only $30. Have a junk, broken trail camera laying around? Simply open the back of the camera and pop one of these in and re-close it. Leave the camera in an obvious spot in a problem area and when they take the bait, you can send police right to their front door.
Doing something like this does take a little more creativity, especially if you're going to hide it in a tree stand. They also have a limited battery life of only around 14 days. But if you're experiencing frequent theft, it's worth a try to put a permanent stop to it.
This type of box is a common method undertaken by people in bear country as these boxes are usually designed to keep a curious bruin from chewing up your expensive electronics. But a security box like this will also keep most people from stealing a camera out of opportunity.
This Camlock Box is designed for Wildgame Innovations cameras and can be bolted directly to the tree for extra security.
The Browning Trail Camera security box has many of the same features, but this one is designed for Browning cameras. In any case, you get the idea of how these boxes work.
DIY Trail Cam Lock Box
While commercially-made boxes are an option, so too are home-made ones. Many clever metalworkers and handymen have come up with some clever designs for homemade security boxes over the years that are as good and perhaps even better than the commercially-made ones.
Personally, I'm no good at construction myself, but it is cool to see what people have come up with. If you have the skills to pull something like this off, why not? You save money and you can tailor the type of box to your exact situation.
Extreme trail camera camouflage
Sure, most trail cameras already have a camo pattern on them. But you can always conceal a camera better. Again, we go to the Internet here because people are incredibly clever, and some have come up with some brilliant ideas. Like hollowing out a hollow log to give your camera the appearance of a simple cut stump.
Still other people have come up with some extreme camo modifications that allow you to easily hide your trail cameras in plain view on public land. Some of these mods take some time and a lot of work, but it's worth it to protect your investment.
The downside is that camo like this often requires a lot of maintenance. Don't leave the camera out too long without checking it, especially in wet conditions. Your camo does no good if the glue fails and it starts falling off.
Don't make it obvious
This may seem like a stupid suggestion, but when I'm hiking on public land I'm always surprised with how many trail cameras and tree stands I see. One big mistake is trimming away gigantic shooting lanes. Those sawed-off branches are obvious from a mile away. And I know that if I notice them, other hunters and the deer probably do too!
When setting up stands, remember thieves are always going to target the stands and cameras that right out in the open on food plots or the most heavily-traveled trail in the woods. Set your gear back a bit off the obvious spots. It may cost you a few shots, but your gear will be noticed by fewer people.
Preventing theft of your stands or trail cameras is easy to do with some of the suggestions we've made here. Try some of them this season and see if it helps curb your stolen gear problems this season!