Trail Camera at Eye Level on a Tree

How High Should a Trail Camera Be off the Ground?

This is a simple question with many answers, because: what you want out of it? Be clear about what you are going to use the camera for. Do you want to get a special photo from a new angle, for conservation publicity?

Or, are you after information for science, or help with hunting one kind of animal? Is it a security camera mounted to catch thieves and trespassers? Your own experience in your particular interest will teach you a lot.

Whatever your reason, I’m going to give you some pointers. My advice is divided among some basic categories of why people use these cameras.

How High Should a Trail Camera Be in a Tree

Set the trail camera at about the same height as the target animal’s chest. If it’s turkeys, it will be low; with larger game such as deer, higher. For deer you need to point the camera to about 3 feet above ground level.

The camera should be angled to point to an area about 25 to 35 feet away. Watch out for the slope of the area, because it influences the position you need. The camera may need to look higher or lower than normal.

Undergrowth or dry brush should be moved aside or removed from in front. It may influence what you can see, or even if the camera is triggered. You must aim cameras mounted very high right down to the area focused on.

Don’t forget that pointing a camera steeply down means that the range is reduced. In this case, your target will have to be moving much closer to the camera.

Three Basic Rules When Installing a Trail Camera

Three basic rules apply here:

  • “Waist High” – the height of your waist is the best height for most purposes. It shouldget you the best results.
  • “Choose Level Ground” – flatter areas will be the easiest for mounting trail cameras. Here, you need not guess your angle and focus so much.
  • “Clear of Brush” – clear away obstructions to give the camera a good field of view. This allows it to perform at its best.

Where Should I Place a Camera for a Mature Buck?

Hunters have many varying opinions about hunting methods and different observations from different areas. However, they agree broadly that mature bucks behave very differently. They follow different survival strategies from the other deer.

Looking at all the evidence from trail cameras supports this notion. Bucks older than four-and-a-half years don’t act the same as younger ones. Individual older bucks also “buck” the trends of the others (forgive the pun…).

Some animals seem to be aware of cameras and are “spooked”, others unaware. Take all the precautions a hunter must take, in any case, when mounting trail cameras. Experienced hunters tell us that older bucks shouldn’t be seen staring at the camera.

What Can I Do to Photograph Mature Bucks?

Many reasons exist as to why they know the camera is there. Maybe the flash was visible, the filter makes a noise, or you left your scent. The trail camera may also be at the wrong height.

Regarding the optimum height, most experts recommend mounting it between 6 to 8 feet when capturing photos of mature bucks with a trail camera. Deer usually look out to the horizon, or down, thus don’t notice higher objects. This is in the scenario where you want information to hunt them later.

At this level it‘s still possible to reach cameras to change batteries or cards. The angle of view will be wider, and thus the targeted area will be bigger.

What Height Helps You to Avoid Trail Camera Theft?

Thieves have been operating on public land for some time, and now on private, too! To outsmart them, try doing things similarly to what you must do for deer. Put trail cameras in danger of theft up high.

Humans also tire of looking up high. We recommend 9 to 12 feet off the ground, and pointing the cameras downwards. It goes without saying: keep their focus down so it stays within their detection limits.

What Tips Are There Regarding the Height for Security Cameras?

Really, it’s like hunting deer: the camera mustn’t be seen by human targets. You must balance stealth and hiding with the quality of the pictures yielded. High cameras might be hidden from felons, but you won’t make out who they are.

A low, visible camera, alternatively, might take sharp pictures of suspected thieves walking away. You’ll have the backs of their heads to identify who’s who… Or they might just smash your device!

Could you give the camera a view from the side or corner? That might be enough, but only if you can still see where you desire to. Where there’s no shelter or space, you’ll need to be creative.

Are There Are Any Tricks for Hiding Trail Cameras?

Put the camera at the best height to capture information, and then hide it away. Have the camera surrounded by artificial plants out of a pot mounted on a wall. Could you make a hollow in a beam or post?

An old mailbox could hide it. In any case, choose your height and mount it, then test that position. Then you can decide how to camouflage it, from bears or bandits. (Image: Hank Tassitano / Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources)