Trail cameras are arguably the hottest thing to hit the hunting industry in recent years. Not only are they a great scouting tool, they are a lot of fun.
Every hunter has always wondered what he missed when he wasn’t on his favorite stand, and now he has a tool that will show him exactly what he is missing. Trail cameras are always on watch and can tell you all the excitement you missed while you are away.
That isn’t all they are good for. Trail cams are a wonderful scouting tool, and when used properly they can help you pattern and tag that trophy buck you have been dreaming of.
Trail cameras come in every shape, size, camouflage pattern and technical ability. There are cameras out there for whatever you need or want. Some are as easy to set as your bedside alarm clock, while others take something akin to a side job at NASA to figure out.
As much as cameras vary in features, they vary in price just as much. For someone just wanting to get started in the trail camera craze, there are cameras that start in price around $50. Prices continue right on up to cameras that may cost more than $1,000 that will text or email you each and every picture in nearly real time.
Each have their own abilities and special features, but in the end they all will show you what deer, turkey, bear, or any other animal that might be hanging around in your corner of the woods.
Once you’ve picked out your next scouting tool, it is time to get it in the woods and see what it can tell you. Just like every other tool, in order to get the most out of them, you have to use them the right ways at the right time of year.
You don’t want to set your trail camera up in the middle of June over that well used scrape from last fall. You want to be smart with your placement of your cameras in order to target where the deer are moving at different times of the year.
Spring and summer is a great time to set up trail cameras over food plots or mineral sites to catch deer as they visit these areas. Keep in mind that this will just tell you what deer are in your area, not where they will be come November.
As summer gives way to fall, you may want to focus your camera on those well used trails, or in funnel areas where deer have to pass close to in their daily routine. As the mating season closes in, fine tune your cameras on those rut sign areas from last season and see when that bruiser buck is using the area so you know when and where to hunt.
Trail cameras aren’t a substitute for old fashioned scouting, but they can be a very valuable addition to your scouting arsenal. Just like any other type of scouting, you still want to use your best woodsmanship skills so as to not tip off your quarry while you are running your trail cameras.
Once you get started setting and checking a couple of trail cameras, it can quickly become addicting. You can’t wait till the next time you check your camera card to see what you will see. It is often like a kid at Christmas waiting to open the next gift.
What will it be, a trophy buck, a huge black bear, or pack of coyotes on the hunt. You never know what you will see on camera. Don’t be shy, just dive into the trail camera world and you never know what the next set of pictures might have to show you.
— Roger Wolfe is an outdoor columnist for Civitas Media. He can be reached at [email protected]