Wednesday, September 25, 2013


    Capturing significant images with a trail camera is no different than doing so with a film camera.  In both pursuits, the photographer is forced to set up what they believe to be an effective, quality shot on a subject, and recover the images later.  Combine these concepts with the unpredictable, human-fearing qualities of wild animals, and you have the essence of trail camera use.

    With this challenge, it helps to have somewhere to start.  Luckily, trail cameras have been in use for some years.  Hunters have learned from their mistakes, and have devised a few rules to counter them.  But in case you’d prefer to learn those lessons for yourself, here are a few ways to do so.

Aim your camera facing the eastern sky to come back to
some extremely blown out images of the sunrise.
1.       Aim your camera facing the eastern or western sky.  This is a matter of individual preference.  Sunrise lovers, like myself, will find an eastern orientation to suit their fancy, while sunset lovers will prefer a western outlook.  This is a great way to capture washed out images of both while you sit nice and warm at home in front of the fire, as the sun’s course in the sky triggers your camera’s shutter.  When a deer does do the triggering, there’s a 25 percent chance that light from the sun will attack your camera’s sensor and show nothing but the animal’s feet.

However, if you’re the wildlife photography sort, you might try positioning your camera to face north.  Much clearer images will result; and they might give you an idea of where to hang your stand come October.

2.       DON’T cut back limbs or weeds in your camera’s viewfinder.  In particular, tall grass really can shake it, and will readily do so when prompted by the steady breezes common post-Labor Day.  Position your camera well, and you may return in a week’s time to recover 4000 duplicates of your lease’s landscape, in multiple exposures.  Unfortunately, this tends to be exhaustive of batteries and card space.  Hey, nobody said photography or hunting were cheap hobbies.

If money and pre-season scouting time are important to you, trim your foreground.  You’ll recover a much more varied memory card, and save battery life in the process.

Frequenting camera-trap locations is a sure-fire way to
make sure you only get pictures of yourself.  No deer.
3.       Frequent your camera locations.  So you’ve spent $300 on Scent Blocker camouflage for the upcoming season, and you’re proud of it.  There’s no need to wear gloves or a cover scent while hanging cameras.  You’re new getup takes care of that.  And the residual oils from your hands that do contaminate your camera will only keep the scene empty for you as you stroll through the frame two days later while scouting on foot.  Of course there’s no sense in paying a photographer when you have a hands-free method at your dispense.

If you don’t plan on having your trail camera do your, and only your, pre-season photoshoot, set cameras donning latex gloves, and turn them on after aiming them to reduce wasted shots of your puzzled face.  Apply a cover scent to you boots when approaching the site.  It also doesn’t hurt to leave the area undisturbed for at least 75 percent of your camera’s battery life, and return at midday, when you do.

4.       Aim cameras along a game trail.  This, again, is an excellent strategy for capturing washed out shots.  The movement made by a deer approaching a camera sensor directly is often not enough to trigger the shutter until the animal is either over top of or passing it, and the resulting image usually teaches a very up-close-and-personal lesson on how the White-Tailed Deer got its name.  
      Occasionally, you may get an image that tells on the deer’s approach to your camera site—but it’s not likely.

If bucktail isn’t your thing, and you prefer broadside shots of deer, which is much more telling of stature, age, and integrity, position your camera perpendicular to a game trail.  The shutter is usually triggered when the deer ambles in frame.

Baiting is a great way to spice up your photostream, but
may also eliminate any chance of capturing any portraits
of deer.
5.       When all else fails, nail a trout head to a tree.  This used to be one of my favorites.  If you’re bored of the traditional commencement of doe and squirrel dominated photos, spice up your yield by leaving bait in front of your camera trap.  Recovering pictures of raccoons, foxes, and coyotes is great fun.

While I’ll admit, this is fun, attracting predators like coyotes that feed on trout heads and fawns is the last thing you want to do on your hunting property.  Leave the trout heads in the trash can (double bagged) or, preferably, on the fish to catch another day.  I always prefer feeding a fisherman over a coyote.

    There is a learning curve to utilizing a trail camera properly.  You may follow these rules at your own desire, but I strongly encourage ignoring them, and applying the lessons they provide.

1 comment :

Michael said...

I did many mistakes with my trial camera, but in time, step by step, I learned to set it up. I am not talking only about camera locations.