10 Trail Camera Tips for Better Results in the Spring and Summer
Do you have your trail cameras out right now? It’s a shocker to learn that over half of you don’t! What’s wrong with you? Do you not like velvet bucks, fawns, food plots, minerals, and growing antlers? Or is the problem not the enthusiasm, rather the glue between your rump and the couch? If that’s the case get moving, get your trail cameras out, and follow these 10 trail camera tips!
Why is it important to have trail cameras out during the spring and summer? Besides keeping a close eye on your property during the offseason, trail cameras could be telling you a lot about bucks, fawn recruitment, and overall the health of your deer herd.
Velvet bucks are in strict patterns between food and bedding areas, this is an opportune moment to place a trail camera out to watch growing velvet, learn individual’s behavior, and potentially learn the pattern for an early season hunt. Besides velvet bucks, fawns are growing. Having trail cameras out right now and later this summer could tell you how the fawn recruitment is coming along on your property, or reveal some serious predator issues.
Getting the Right Camera
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(Video) With their unprecedented 0.2 trigger speed, Bushnell Trophy Cam HD trail cameras are now three times faster.
Game cameras, deer cameras, or trail cameras, whatever term you prefer have come a long way, even in the last 5 years. They are continuously getting better image quality, highly preferred settings, and now can directly send the pictures to your cell phone!
Before setting up trail cameras this summer take a serious look at your inventory. Does your trail camera pile look like a rag tag group of rebels defying their limited lifespan? Meaning, if your trail cameras barely work, are questionable if they will even turn on, and have about a 25% chance of taking a picture…it might be time to upgrade.
Here is the latest and greatest from our friends over at Bushnell.
All new design with a removable “ARD” anti-reflection LED cover, strengthened cable lock channel and an improved latch for maximum ruggedness. Inside is a stunning 14MP camera with a super-fast 0.2-second trigger speed, extended nighttime photo range and full 1-year battery life.
The trail camera that checks on you. Hunt-proven features deliver all the evidence you need to plan your perfect shot from wherever your smartphone is.
Keep a watchful eye on your favorite outdoor spot around the clock. If you want to see what’s out there, all you have to do is set one up.
Whether you are looking to upgrade to a breathtakingly high quality picture trail camera or looking for the latest trail camera that sends you the photos via text night and day, Bushnell has you covered. After upgrading your trail camera pile, it’s time to get them out in the woods. Here is what you have been waiting for. 10 trail camera tips for the off season!
10 Trail Camera Tips
Trail Camera Tips 1: Trail Camera Location
When it comes to trail camera location, it can be dependent on what you want to take pictures of. Are you using the trail camera to scout, watch a food plot, or learn the behavior and pattern of a specific buck? Your answer tells you exactly where to place the game camera.
If you plan on watching and scouting a food plot to see how many, which, and when deer are coming to the plot then somewhere high with a view of the entire field is the best option. A time-lapse setting will tell you everything you need to know in this case. If you would like more detail, then it might require several trail cameras on one food plot depending on the size.
This is where fast trigger speed is needed. Game runs and deer trails are always great places for deer cameras, especially if you want to determine where to place a tree stand, or what the movement looks like between bedding areas and food sources.
In the offseason and late summer, watering holes could potentially be great places to take pictures of deer, and a lot more wildlife. While spring and early summer wouldn’t necessarily be a good time for a camera on a watering hole due to the water in deer diet, late summer is the exception. There might be a drought in place, or just not a lot of water around, meaning a camera over water could give you a great idea of who and what is in the area.
The most common trail camera location for the summer is over bait, salt, or mineral stations. While food plots, trails, water, and any other trail camera location might be variable in deer use and events, baiting is nearly guaranteed to work!
Trail Camera Tips 2: Trail Camera Setup
No matter where you place a trail camera, you need to take time to set it up right. The general rule of setting up trail cameras are pretty basic. Make sure your target area is around 5-10 yards away from the camera (depending on trail camera detection and flash range), make sure it does not face the sun (point the camera north if you can), and be sure there are no weeds, trees, or anything that could disturb or set off the camera over and over again with a little wind. If you need to, take a weed eater and/or chainsaw and clear out everything in the area when setting up a game camera. Taking time during the setup will eliminate the frustration to follow a bad set.
Trail Camera Tips 3: Trail Camera Settings
After you have got the location down and have nearly finished the set up, you need to put the trail camera on the right settings. While it might seem a pain, entering in all the correct information, date, time, name, etc. is a must do! Also be sure to format the memory card to the camera. After this you have to dial in the settings for the location and what you desire out of that camera. Overall there are 4 modes to think about.
Just plain photo is the most common setting. The most desired is a 3 photo burst with a delay depending on location. Longer for food plots and bait sites, shorter for trails. This is the best selection for getting high quality images to easily identify unique bucks.
Video on a trail camera has come a long way. Bushnell for example has taken it very seriously to supply great HD video. This is the setting for one, learning behaviors and social interactions of bucks in a summer bachelor group at the locations, and two, to get a good idea of age and size of the antler when he is moving. Pictures can be deceiving sometime, but video is solid real time video of how big he really is.
Hybrid gives you the best of both worlds, stunning high quality images, plus a video of your desired length for every event.
This can be a somewhat tricky setting to master, but has tremendous value when watching food plots. Just be sure to study which trail camera you are using and the time-lapse setting on that particular camera. Installing the correct date and time, and knowing when to tell the camera to take the pictures is key.
Trail Camera Tips 4: Trail Camera Baiting
Again, baiting is one of the best applications and locations for trail camera in the summer and offseason. Commonly this is in the form of a trail camera over a mineral lick, salt lick, or supplemental feeding station.
Salt and mineral licks are extremely attractive to deer during the spring and summer due to a high water and potassium diet. This leaves deer with a sodium deficiency and a craving for salt while plants are green. Putting out minerals or salt during this time will attract any buck, doe, and fawn in the surrounding area, giving you a good census of your population. Products from our friends over a Big and J Attractants like Meltdown™ or Legit® are just the attraction and bait to put in front of your trail camera to attract deer and bucks from afar!
Trail Camera Tips 5: Trail Camera Scent Control
One of the most important trail camera tips for the offseason, or the deer season for that matter, is keeping your scent off of the trail camera and surrounding area. Human scent can kill a good spot, or decrease deer encounters, events, and picture or videos. The off season is a time to leave the deer herd alone, so be sure to practice good scent control practices when operating trail cameras.
Trail Camera Tips 6: Trail Camera Checking and Pressure
Keeping your trail cameras, camera sites, and property scent free is just a piece of a real trail camera tip that is vital, human pressure. It is hard…we know, but you have to limit when you set foot on your property. While food plots, hanging stands, and maintenance is a must, checking trail cameras is not, no matter how much you would like to use it as an excuse. Keeping off your property could be easier said than done, but purchasing a wireless trail camera can satisfy you with pictures, without disturbing the property.
Trail Camera Tips 7: Trail Camera Density
How many trail cameras should you place on your property? It is up to your preference, your deer hunting property’s acreage, terrain, habitat diversity, and particular sites that need a camera. One trail camera for every 100 acres is a general rule of thumb, but that is in regards to mineral sites, survey sites, and attracting deer to the site. If you have three food plots, several trails, two mineral sites, and a watering hole on your property, then you need that many cameras. Like previously stated, it’s all personal preference and how big your wallet is.
Trail Camera Tips 8: Trail Camera Maintenance and Organization
One trail camera tip that is often overlooked it maintenance and organization. Trail cameras need maintenance in terms of switching out fresh batteries, and downloading and clearing memory cards. Organization of the trail camera pictures and videos is also overlooked. Be sure to organize your trail camera files by year, property, location, and months depending on when and how often you check. Being able to look back at years’ worth of trail camera data is very valuable information.
Trail Camera Tips 9: Trail Camera Security
This is simple, protect your belongings with a security lock. Trail cameras have the ability to be cable locked deterring the common trespasser from opening the camera or stealing the camera.
Trail Camera Tips 10: Trail Camera Movement
The very last trail camera tip is to not be lazy and move the camera when it comes time. Once summer gives way to fall, just before most states deer seasons open in October bucks will begin to switch home ranges. Testosterone heightens, antlers harden, bachelor groups break, bucks switch home ranges, crops are close to harvest, food sources change, and acorns start falling. This is the signal to change trail camera strategies, locations, and settings for more hunting strategy and observation, not offseason scouting. This will have heavier emphasis on monitoring trails, food plots, mock scrapes and staging areas.
If you do not have your trail camera out, now is the time to do so. Get the ball rolling on upgrading your trail cameras, summer scouting, and offseason observations, before fall and deer season arrives. Use these 10 trail camera tips to ensure you are making the most of the spring, summer, and the rest of the offseason.