Many people are under the impression that if you throw up a trail camera anywhere that at some point they will end up with good quality pictures of the deer on their properties. Unfortunately, many times they are disappointed with the results. Ive put together 5 short tips that will help you get more quality pictures of the deer you are scouting and thus give you more information towards your game plan for the hunting season.
1. Location, location, location
The obvious truth about this first step is if you don’t put your camera in a location that deer are frequently using then you will seldom get pictures of deer. Find the deer sign first before you hang your camera. This will probably co-inside with the time of year. In the Summer you might set up near a watering hole or travel routes. In the fall near a hot scrape or rub line and in the winter near a food source. The more scouting you do before you hang your cameras the more pictures on your SD card.
2. Deer Movement
Now that you are in the general area of your deer, narrow it down. Pay attention to the finer details and look for areas that are easy to find the fresh deer sign. Muddy banks of creeks, agricultural field edges, fence crossing locations and trails with signs of freshly eaten vegetation, are some good areas to refine your search, pin point the deer traffic and hang your cameras.
It rises in the East and sets in the West. Yes that’s right, the Sun. Try and face your camera north whenever possible. This will keep the sun from blowing out the contrast in your pictures and unintentionally triggering your cameras. Also If you are going to set your camera up on a trail, don’t face it at right angles or perpendicular to the trail. Try and point it down the trail at a 45 degree angle. This will allow you to get better quality pictures of your deer and more opportunity for the deer to trigger the camera.
I will hang my cameras at different heights depending on the situation. However, I am a advocate of raising your cameras up out of the line of sight of the deer. Raise your camera up as high as possible and put a twig behind the top of the cam to face it down at your target area. This method helps to not alert the deer and lets them continue feeling comfortable using that area. I have watched deer on video mode have negative reactions to a camera that is at their head level and then disappear to never show up on that camera again. Some deer wont care, but some will. Usually the mature bucks are the ones to become sketchy when they witness a white flash or even an Infrared flash. I have even seen bucks on video react negatively to a camera that has a invisible black flash. Sometimes just seeing the camera on the tree is enough to make a big buck weary. You definitely want to keep this in mind especially during the hunting season. Using this method also helps to keep your cameras out of sight from any people that might be frequenting your area. We all know that there are some people out there that cant keep their hands off other peoples property. Its unfortunate but its true.
5. Camera Settings
There are many different models of cameras on the market today. But knowing and using the appropriate settings on your camera for different situations is of more importance than what make or style of camera you are using. For instance, if you are able to get your camera raised up out of the deer’s line of sight then you have a bit more freedom of the settings you can utilize. You can use burst or video mode that requires the camera to use the flash or infrared for extended periods of time. If the camera is placed at eye level then it would be more wise to use a single picture mode where the camera flashes for only a second. Remember the whole idea here is to get pictures of deer without educating them. Another setting to consider is the range of the sensor (if your camera has this setting). If your camera is set up facing an open field or area, set the range out further. If you are set up in a bush type area you will want to shorten up the range so you don’t have leaves, grass and branches off in the distance triggering your camera.
Batteries. If you are setting your cameras up in the colder months it might be wise to switch from your standard Alkaline battery to a Nickel-Metal Hydride. Alkaline batteries have a water base and in cold temperatures they can become sluggish, which can effect the performance of your camera. Nickel- Metal-Hydride (most Rechargeable batteries) are more expensive but out perform Alkaline batteries in colder temperatures.
Use these simple tips moving forward and I can assure you that you will get more consistent and better quality results. Good luck!