Trail Camera
Justin Hoffman

You Don't Need to Be a Hunter to Own a Trail Camera

Fuel your curiosity for wildlife by investing in a trail camera.

The original purpose of a trail camera was to give a hunter an advantage when pursuing their chosen quarry. When placed in specific locations, trail cameras (also called game cameras) can provide invaluable information regarding animal movement (or lack thereof) and size.

A tool still embraced by most hunters, trail cameras are becoming more mainstream these days. Folks who've never held a gun or bow are discovering the joy these scouting cameras can provide, which show a side of nature few are ever able to see.

Although I'm an avid angler, wildlife photographer and write for a variety of outdoor publications, I've never hunted in my life. I do tag along on many hunts, love to eat wild game and wholeheartedly support ethical and fair-chase hunting. The sport is something I've just never pursued. Saying that, I absolutely love to hunt with my trail cameras.

My first experience with a trail camera came in 2013, when I won a Wildgame Innovations unit through a Twitter contest. I still remember my excitement as I unboxed this new toy, eager to set it up. I didn't have to wait long, either.

Mere weeks after my win, a friend discovered a road-killed whitetail. The two of us dragged it into a field, and I set up my trail camera some 20 feet away. You can imagine my thrill when I checked the memory card the next day.

The quality isn't great and it was before I discovered no-glow units, but this first clip ignited a curiosity and passion that's grown stronger with each season.

We all remember what it was like to open presents Christmas morning as a youngster, right? That same anxious excitement happens each time you pull an SD card from a cam to review the images or video clips. It's hard to explain unless you've experienced it, but it's a natural high that never dissipates.

I spend many hours roaming the woods photographing wildlife with my DSLR camera, but one animal I'd never spotted was a fisher. Although their tracks were prevalent in the areas I hiked, this shy and mainly nocturnal mammal would always elude me. That all changed when I set up a trail camera.

It only took two days of waiting to capture my first fisher. Since then, I've recorded dozens of clips of this fascinating and seldom-seen animal.

I have a fascination with whitetail deer, which I'd say are my specialty when it comes to wildlife photography. So, the fall months are a prime time for me to break out trail cameras. It's amazing to capture various behaviors these wondrous animals exhibit, from working licking branches, to rubs and scrapes and even some buck brawls.

The following two HD video clips came from one of my Stealth Cam game cameras.

And, every once in a while, you may capture something totally unexpected:

Today's game cameras do a fantastic job at capturing the abundant wildlife that call the fields and forests home. Whether it's a Browning, Bushnell, SpyPoint, Moultrie, Primos or Stealth Cam unit, trail camera performance and reliability have vastly improved from only a few short years ago. Trigger speed, battery life, time-lapse and no-glow features have all seen significant refinement. In fact, you can even purchase cellular trail cameras, which will transmit images or videos directly to your phone. How cool is that?!

If you've been on the fence about purchasing a trail camera, I suggest you give one a go this season. They truly are a small investment for the big rewards they offer.

And no, you definitely don't need to be a hunter to own one.

Looking for advice on how to get the most out of your trail camera? Check out this article HERE.

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