How to Set up a Trail Camera Properly

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Trail cameras are your remote field eyes, helping you strategize for your next hunting season. When correctly deployed, trail cameras inform you what animals were about, what they were doing and which way they went. Here are the basics of setting up and maintaining your trail camera.

Trail Camera Setup

It is not hard to set up trail cameras to capture images of various game, such as whitetail deer. Whether mounting one or multiple, both height and orientation must be correct. Pictures taken from a higher vantage point are better than those taken at eye level.

Trail camera placement on a tree should be done on a sturdy example, at the very least at a height of 3’ to 4’ above ground. This makes it level eye to eye with the deer when photographing so higher would be better. Avoid false triggers by clearing debris in its field of view.

However, at that height, there is a possibility of your trail camera being stolen. To mitigate this, attaching it to the tree with a safe lock is one way. The other is mounting it to a climbing rod and elevating it higher, say ten feet.

What Hanging Height Works Best For Trail Cameras?

Game camera setup height is determined by where you intend to hang them, be it public or private land. Trail cameras intended for private property can be mounted chest high. Those intended for public lands will need to be either better disguised or elevated higher.

Once placement is sorted, next is ensuring the best possible image quality. Firstly, account for lens flare due to the sun. Don’t aim your wildlife camera due west or east, due to sunset and sunrise glare.

South is also not ideal, again due to the sun. Best direction for trail camera setup is north. Review the photos produced and tweak any of the above setup procedures where necessary.

Best Trail Camera Locations

The most ideal trail camera locations are natural travel paths, where deer regularly and freely move. Areas where they are comfortable and are not overtly afraid. Trail cameras are at their most exciting when scrapes are being laid down.

Configuring Your Trail Camera

Game camera settings are very important to your overall hunting success. Spend some time learning the camera’s capabilities and how to fully exploit them.

Game Camera Settings Guide

  • Pick the best capture mode for the right situation. Video or still images? Some scenarios call for one over the other, select the best one.
  • Date and time should be correctly set. Other than the photos themselves, this is the most critical factor for employing trail cameras. It lets you know when and at what time that large buck passed by.
  • Decide the number of images to be captured per trigger, and the delay time as well. For mineral lick or bait trail camera setups, image taking frequency should be lowered. Conversely, over a deer trail, increase frequency and decrease delay.

What Is Trail Camera Sensitivity? How Is It Set?

A trail camera’s PIR sensor alerts the camera to photograph, depending upon motion sensing and temperature variances. During warmer times, sensitivity should be set higher. In cooler periods, lower sensitivity is better suited.

When the camera is being triggered by movements from sources other than game, adjust sensitivity lower. Where distances may be further between game and camera, crank up the sensitivity.

Other Trail Camera Setup Considerations

  1. Reformat your trail camera’s SD card. Trail and digital cameras write and read data differently.
  2. Accept only the best trail camera batteries. AA batteries are used in most trail camera models. Lithium batteries work better in cooler weather, compared to the alkaline alternatives. They also last longer.

Visiting the Trail Camera

Ahead of fetching your game cameras, do some planning. Going to camera locations too often is a common mistake among rookie hunters. Camera location should be your guide as to the frequency of checking on them.

When and How to Visit Trail Camera Sites

  • If the forecast calls for rain, that would be an ideal time. Your scent will be washed away by the rain.
  • Most game are out and about in the evenings and early mornings. Going to fetch SD cards at noon time would work best.
  • Make the wind advantageous to your SD card fetching. Ensure it is blowing away from deer bedding areas. If it is not, abandon mission for that day.

Checking on Trail Cameras: Other Considerations

  • Make sure your scent is covered. All precautions that are applicable during a hunt are just as applicable when checking on wildlife cameras.
  • Don’t make the journey too often. About two weeks between one checkup and another is highly recommended.
  • Locations that are more difficult to access benefit from cellular trail cameras. Non-cellular trail cameras can be set up where access is easier. (Photo: Browning Trail Cameras)

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