On the last tip segment, we reviewed the basic features of a game camera and the technologies associated with them. On this week’s tip lets review some of the basics on camera setup to help get the most from your favorite cameras.
The first thing you’ll need to do is start with fresh batteries and a clean SD card installed. Make sure to check your camera manual for maximum SD card size limitations. Most modern cameras can accept at least a 32GB. It’s best if you are sure you’ve backed up any old photos to do a new format in the camera menu to properly recognize the card.
Next verify any pertinent data such as date, time or camera name to identify when the photos are taken, what time and which camera took them if you have multiple cameras.
Now is the time to decide the camera mode you want the camera to operate in. Basically, do you want still photos, video or in some models time lapse. Some cameras allow for multiple modes and some do not. Check your owner’s manual. In the event of stills you can probably select the resolution size and if you want burst mode. Burst enables multiple shots per event trigger but consumes more space. Video also uses more space but is usually selectable as to resolution as well with higher being better at cost of storage space. Time lapse is wonderful for monitoring a large area from sun up to sun down at selected intervals to watch an entire day’s activities in only a few minutes.
Once your camera(s) are setup we need to give careful consideration where to locate them for maximum opportunity to capture the best images.
Location for the summer may vary somewhat from the fall and winter depending on your property and the availability of food, water and bedding areas. If legal in your area, baiting spots are a no brainer for deer activity. Food plots and crop lands may have deer scattered all over the area but most still will have major trails leading into and out of the area. Trails are always a good choice to eventually inventory the herd at one point or another in a given area. Especially if you find an intersection where paths cross. Bedding areas are great too because does and fawns will be close by for the first few months. If you have a water source where deer have to frequent because of the summer heat, you can almost always find a certain spot or trail where they tend to use more than others. Later as the rut approaches and bucks begin making rubs and scrapes you’ll begin to isolate out where the better bucks may be frequenting.
Once you determine the best spot there are a few tricks to improve your chances of getting better photos. The rule of thumb is to try and position your camera where the lens is facing north if possible to avoid back lighting and glare issues. Only in a location with dense vegetation where the sunlight is somewhat obscured should you ignore this rule. One important thing to consider is try and position the camera where the deer are approaching from a slight angle or quartering the lens and therefor allowing the camera to detect the motion early enough to capture the entire deer before he is out of frame. This is especially true for slower triggers. Next having considered the general direction to point the camera pick a tree with the best vantage point with the target area being 5-10 yards from where you expect the action will take place. Hang the camera 2-4 feet from ground and if possible do a manual test shot to verify what camera is seeing. Cameras with a built-in viewer make this simple or you may need a SD card viewer or similar device to check. One of the biggest problems a lot of hunters have is premature triggering due to branches or tall grass swaying triggering the motion detector. Make sure you bring a pole saw, limb saw or machete to clear away any close vegetation that may cause this to occur.
It’s best to avoid the temptation to check your camera too often once you’ve verified all is well. Try to wait at least a week or two if possible to not spook any deer with your scent. Of course having one of the new cellular cameras where signal in sufficient is an even better choice.
That's all of our Game Camera Setup Segment. Be sure to check back in next Tuesday for more tips from our expert staff and pro staff from around the country.