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Setting Up and Using a Trail Camera

Whether you want to use a trail camera to stake out the best hunting spots or you plan to use it for security purposes, learning to a trail camera is a valuable skill. These little cameras offer opportunities to make hunting expeditions more successful and to keep tabs on what is going on around your property. To make your experience using a new trail camera easier, we want to offer a quick tutorial on how to setup and use these useful devices.

Setting Up the Trail Camera

Step One: There are several steps to getting the camera setup. First, you should empty everything from the box and be sure that everything that is on the packing slip is included. Once you have established that everything is in the box, you should be sure that the camera’s software is up to date. There will be instructions in the box regarding how to get this done.

Setting Up the Trail Camera

Setting Up the Trail Camera

Step Two: The next step is to charge the batteries and get the SD card installed. If you set up the camera and forget to do one of these steps, then the camera will not be able to properly and fully record all of the information that it can. Once everything it charged, it is also helpful to test out the camera. Check the trigger, flash, and timer to be sure everything works the way you expect it to work.

Batteries for Trail Cameras

Batteries for Trail Cameras

Step Three: Once everything is charged, then you can get out into the wild and figure out where you want to place your camera. It is helpful to look at the ground to see where the most foot traffic occurs. Also think about where food sources are because these areas will see the most traffic, too. Consider how high you plan to place the camera and how you can conceal the camera from animals and human visitors.

Step Four: Once you have the location determined, the next step is to mount the camera. The trail camera you buy might have mounting devices included in the package. If not, the Internet is full of ideas regarding how to build a mount and what mounts are the best for different types of cameras. One of the best tools for mounting any trail camera is a bungee cord, especially if it is in a color that will blend in with the surroundings. Wherever you decide to mount the camera, be sure it has a clear line of sight and that is will not fall.

Step Five: It is always a good idea to hide the camera, but no matter what you do, the lens should be uncovered. Many people will use leaves or branches to give their cameras some camouflage in the woods. When you do place the camera, do not point it east or west because it will get too much sun in the mornings and evenings and the pictures will not be easy to read. If you place the camera facing south, be sure it is not pointing up toward the sun. To keep your camera from being stolen or damaged by animals, it is wise to put it in a protective case. Many people will also add their hunting equipment to their homeowners insurance policy – especially if they have a significant amount of money invested in it.

How to use trail camera

How to use trail camera

Step Six: Once you have everything in place, the next step is to activate the camera. Since trail cameras are motion activated, you simply can step in front of it and do a little dance. Record the time that you stepped in front of the camera and then check out the SD card, or your computer if you have the camera setup to automatically deliver images to an account. If all works well, then you can leave the area – but not before you eliminate your scent.

Using the Trail Camera

Trail cameras do require some regular maintenance, especially if you plan to keep them for an extended period of time. They are not difficult to care for, but you should be sure to check on them occasionally. Since trail cameras do rely on software, it is a good idea to update it regularly, especially if the camera companies report any bugs. You should keep a log to record when you updated the software. If you have several cameras, you should number the camera and the SD cards and keep a separate log for each one. This way, you will not get them confused. Many camera users will record the GPS locations for each camera, too.

Along with recording the updates and locations of the cameras, it is also helpful to use a log book to record the activity at each camera. Recording the animals and times they wander nearby will allow you to see patterns that will make your hunting trips more successful.

If you do check on your camera in person, always bring scent remover with you. Many camera owners will wear latex or neoprene gloves when they work on their cameras so they do not leave any trace of their scent behind. Some people will only work on their cameras when it rains because that also reduces the chance that any scent is left behind.

To make your camera usage more efficient, it can be helpful to have two SD cards for each camera. This way, when you can take one SD card home to look at the images, you have another one to put in the camera. By swapping two SD cards per camera, you are never losing out on an opportunity to see the action on your property.
Using a trail camera can give you a huge opportunity when hunting. Using it effectively is not difficult, but it saves time to learn from others’ experiences. Have fun with your camera and feel free to share your tips and tricks below.

Different Types of Trail Cameras ( Game Camera )

Learning about the animals that wander through your trails is much easier when you have a trail camera to record their actions. When you are ready to invest in a trail camera, there are many different types to choose from. It is a good idea to understand exactly what type of camera you need for the area that you want to record. Most of the cameras will have features like motion detectors, varying resolution, subtle flashes, and tough exterior boxes. These are the different types of cameras that will best help you see the deer and other creatures that frequent your favorite hunting grounds:

Motion-activated Camera

This is one of our favorite types of camera for trail use. It is a perfect choice for capturing images of creatures along your trails because it only captures motion and does not need to be on all of the time. Since the camera is only on for a limited amount of time, it requires very little battery use. You simply place the camera where you want it and once motion activates it, images are captures. It is a popular camera choice for hunters and wildlife photographers alike. One consideration is the range of the camera, because they will only capture images when the motion occurs within its scope. Any motion outside of its range will not be photographed.

SmartScouter Motion Activated Cellular Surveillance Camera

SmartScouter Motion Activated Cellular Surveillance Camera

Wireless Wi-Fi Camera

This type of camera uses a transmitter to send images directly to a computer. These are popular with hunters who want immediate knowledge of animals in the area. However, it does require a wireless network, so you cannot use them in dead zones. While they might sound like a complicated camera to use, they are designed to be easy to set up and they are completely wireless, so there is no need to use a USB cord. The cameras are small and easy to hide, which makes them great options for hunters. There are two major disadvantages to using Wi-Fi cameras. The first is that they do require Wi-Fi to work properly. The second is that they can be hacked, but there are ways to protect the computer that receives the messages so your vital information is safe.

Wireless Wi-Fi Camera

Spypoint Tiny-W2 Wireless Infrared Game Camera

Cellular Cameras

These cameras send the images through your cellphone – thus the name. You will need to use a camera with a SIM card and the camera does require the use of a data package to work – much like a smartphone. They often have motion sensors as the technology is advancing. These cameras install quickly and easily without the use of wires, but they are not always built to withstand the elements like other types of trail cameras. You might need to craft a weatherproof casing for this type of camera if you choose to use it. However, they are lightweight and easy to move, so they are less likely to be spotted by other hunters. They do require the use of batteries, so you will need to run tests to see how long the battery life will be. Like the Wi-Fi cameras, cellular cameras can also be hacked.

Cellular Cameras

Cellular Cameras

Infrared Cameras

Because so much animal activity occurs at night, an infrared camera is a top choice for hunters. This type of camera will shoot in all light conditions and will supply high resolution footage, too. Many have light sensors that will adjust to the infrared function when the lights go out. These are user friendly cameras that capture impressive details of night activity. They are easy to use and easy to install and most have a significant amount of storage. They tend to be sturdy and built to withstand the elements in all weather conditions. The biggest disadvantage is the costs, because they are priced higher than other types of cameras due to the infrared technology.

Infrared Digital Trail Camera

Infrared Digital Trail Camera

Flash Cameras

This type of camera is more affordable than infrared cameras, but they do use light to capture images. These are designed to get night shots, but they have to use a burst of light, which can make it difficult to capture several shots of animals in your vicinity. They are easy to install and easy to move around. They do have zoom features and the quality of image is good. The biggest problem is the flash because it can startle animals and they can learn to avoid it if it goes off repeatedly. They also use more battery to get the flash to light.

Flash trail Cameras

Flash trail Cameras

Security Camera

These are the last resort for trail cameras. These can be easy to install in the wild, but they are also rather easy to spot. They capture footage without wasting an excessive amount of battery power. But, they often have low resolution images. While they are easy to spot, they are less likely to be stolen simply because of the way they look. They are a good option for temporary cameras on the trail until you get an infrared or Wi-Fi camera. If you do decide to install security cameras on your trail, it is a good idea to understand what limitations these have due to local laws.

Security trail Camera

Security trail Camera