Trail cameras give glimpse into wildlife world


Most antlers have shed their velvet at this point, and trail cameras are capturing photographs of the bucks roaming hunting lands across the country. Eager hunters yearning to know what this year’s herd has shaped up to look like pull cards and check, with fingers crossed, for a monster to pursue. In the past, finding out what deer are on your property meant spending hours driving and glassing fields, or waiting and waiting on stand, armed with nothing more than binoculars. These days, trail cameras do much of the hard work for you.

Trail cameras have been around for a long time now, but in the last couple of years they have really exploded in popularity. Most hunters I know are using some form of camera to monitor the deer on their property. They also can serve as security for rural properties.

Trail cameras are motion activated, so they take a picture of anything that passes by. The bells and whistles vary greatly on the countless different models of scouting cameras available. Some have flashes, others are infrared. Some take video, some don’t. Some email pictures from the woods to your phone, while others simply capture to memory chips. Some models cost as much as a rifle, but many can be bought for under $100 dollars.

Ultimately, you need to decide what features matter to you, but what I prefer is a camera with a good mega-pixel count, so they take clear images and the ability to capture video. I also like an internal picture viewing system. Most of the inexpensive cameras require you to remove the chips and take them back to your computer before you can view your pictures. I prefer to use cameras with a built-in screen, so I don’t have to mess with transporting chips because chances are, I’ll lose one.

Trail cameras are a tool, but more than anything, they’re fun. Placing, monitoring and removing trail cameras extends your hunting season. You may not be out there with a gun or bow, but in a sense, you’re hunting. Hunting for information. Hunting for excitement. Hunting for motivation. And you never know what you are going to capture a picture of. I recently captured an image of a bobcat carrying a snake in its mouth.

At this time of year, bucks are generally hanging in their home range. They’re also in bachelor groups, so there is a good chance of capturing a photo containing more than one buck at a time. When the rut comes, and bucks start traveling all over, you’ll pick up pictures of deer that may never step foot on your property again. So from now until the rut kicks in during late October is actually the best time to run scouting cameras if your goal is to learn about your resident herd of deer.

A few places to set up your cameras to capture shots at this time of year are along agricultural fields, at water sources, around oak trees and in natural funnels. It doesn’t take too many miles of dirt road driving at dusk or dawn to realize deer are feeding in bean fields right now. If you have beans on your property, set up cameras on major trails deer are using to enter and exit the field. If you have a pond or creek on your place, try to determine where deer are frequently drinking and set a camera there.

Running trail cameras is both fun and educational. It gets you out in the woods and helps build excitement for the coming season. Trail cameras area available just about everywhere hunting products are sold.

See you down the trail.

Brandon Butler writes an outdoors column for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].

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