Humans are carnivorous creatures, and as such we need meat. Our kind has been hunting wild animals for millennia. Now that I am thinking about the first hunt, I imagine an early human hunched over as he runs through the woods. He is wearing only a leaf to cover his goods. My mind then pictures a large animal running faster, and faster ahead of him. I would assume that man never did catch that first beast but instead went home to think of ways that he could better the odds of catching it so he could not only harvest the skin for better attire but also to taste the meat beneath it. Since that time, our odds have greatly increased. We now have better weapons, and tricks to assist us in catching not only the smallest fish in a pool of water but the largest game on the planet.
Over time our knowledge has further increased about the effects of hunting. Allowing man to hunt at his will creates waste, greed, and extinction. Has anyone ever seen a buffalo? While they are not quite extinct yet, they were on the brink of it not that long ago. Then the government stepped in and created laws to prevent things like this from happening. While we all sit here and count the days to open season wishing we could hunt anytime we pleased it is a reasonable rule that has a purpose. But in the meantime, we can take steps to better increase our odds, with less work than our ancestors use to take.
The trail camera, believe it or not, has been around since the early 1800’s and was only used by Photographers who profited by the pictures that they took. These early cameras were large, loud, and required tricky wires, and gadgets to set up. They took very few pictures at a time and required a lot of work. The first trail camera that became available to the general public over 20 years ago would take more pictures of leaves blowing in the wind than it ever did of game. Over the decades, technology has advanced quite a bit. Today trail cameras operate on long-lasting batteries, have a flash, and can even self-determine if the movement is a leaf or a deer.
Much like hunting in itself, using a trial camera isn’t as easy as tieing it to a tree and coming back later to see what the camera detected. Well, actually it is, but the reality is that you can’t just pick any old tree and hope for the best. Time didn’t just advance the technology, it also advanced the knowledge behind using these devices effectively.
These trail cameras are not cheap, and lots of hunters know that even on private property there will be the stray hunter who shouldn’t be there. In some instances, the cameras can and will come up missing. Take steps first to prevent such theft, before ever leaving your home to install them. The odds of a stray hunter showing up to your land with a stool are slim to none. Consider installing it at a height he will only be able to reach with one. Bring a stool with you. Raising the height of the camera won’t completely stop theft but it can discourage them from it. Lockboxes and passwords are also efforts that can be combined to further deter thieves. In the event that a very determined thief manages to get their hands on it, a password will prevent them from enjoying something you paid for.
When installing the cameras place a stick behind the lock box, as you are attaching it. Doing so will draw the lens back down toward the animals to get an amazing shot. It is also beneficial to the animals the light flashing at their face, could scare them instead it is above their head, and less likely to scare them away.
The angle that the camera is placed will have a great deal of influence on the quality of the shots captured. Imagine the cave man mentioned earlier. If a deer is running down a path, to get to somewhere or away from something the camera could miss the shot completely if it was positioned perpendicular to the path the animal is running down. Consider aiming the camera at a 45-degree angle between the tree it is tied too and the path it is aiming at. Doing so allows the camera to get a head start on the running animal before it moves too quickly out of range.
Set up a trail camera in front of your mock rub and scrape sites. If placed properly they will generate the most traffic during the rut period. Adding a camera to a nearby tree to capture which deer are using them are a sure fire way to find out if there is a large buck traveling in your hunting area.
Consider adding a mineral lick site to your routine mocks every year. The minerals are necessary for a healthy deer. Bucks need the added minerals to assist them in growing big strong antlers. Place a camera near the site to watch as the buck eats at the dirt to get the minerals they need. Remember to place the camera up high to deter theft, and aim downward to capture the best shot.
Create a routine and stick to it. The deer will eventually become accustomed to your behavior and know to steer clear of these areas at those particular times of the day. Deer generally sleep through most of the day anyway. Consider checking the cameras mid-day to avoid disrupting their natural behavior.
The batteries that you choose are almost as important as the camera that you purchase. Don’t expect that the dollar store cheapies are going to last a long time in a high-powered camera. They may last long enough to take a few shots, then they are rendered useless. High-quality rechargeable lithium batteries do cost significantly more but are well worth the investment. They last a lot longer with each charge than the generic batteries do, and they are good for the environment. Keep in mind that not all are treated equally, so do your homework here too.