Hunting season is coming up, and you still don’t have a good strategy for the 400 acres you have been given permission to hunt. Where will the deer be? How many large bucks are on the property? What time do they come out to feed? These and more questions need to be answered if you want to actually bag a deer during the fleeting months of hunting season.
The best bet for answering these questions is to purchase and place one or more trail hunting cameras around the area. The camera is like your scout – it will track the deer’s movements, take photos of each one, and let you know where and when to hunt. The market is chock full of trail cameras, so the average hunter can easily grow overwhelmed with the choices available. Your available budget will be a major factor in which camera you choose, but you also need to cover a few other selling points to ensure you are getting quality, not just expense.
A good trail camera is really worth the money. A poor camera will end up costing the hunter money, time, effort, and worst of all, lack of deer. That being said, when you spend $200 or more dollars on a camera, you want it to do the job. Here are a few tips to help you choose the very best camera for your budget.
1. Find recommendations
Ask your fellow hunters what they use, how much the cameras cost, and whether they are satisfied with the results. Search hunting magazines and websites to find the top listed cameras in each budget category.
2. Check the battery power
A good hunting camera will work for up to a year without needing the batteries changed. Most cameras simply use AA batteries, so don’t purchase one that needs high-end specialized batteries. Find out how long the batteries are supposed to last, and of course, purchase quality batteries to use inside of it.
3. Check the Times
Recovery time is a big issue in trail cameras – the time it takes for each photo to save to the memory card, and then set up for the next shot. A good camera can do everything within a few seconds, while a poor camera may take over a minute. Time can make all the difference in catching that perfect shot of the buck’s antlers.
Trigger time is also important – what good will it do you if the photo is taken so slowly that the deer has already passed by? A good camera takes photos quickly, even when the animals are running by.
The flash on the camera should be all but invisible. Most good cameras use infrared light, which although it means the photo will be black and white, it also means the animals will not see a bright flash and be scared away. Infrared simply reads body heat, while cheaper cameras take actual photos, using a bright flash. A good camera will also be able to take clear photos from far away, hopefully up to 80 feet. Of course, not every spot will need such a long range, but for fields, you want a good distance to photograph turkeys, deer, or other wildlife.
The trail camera should be able to detect and photograph animals within a wide range, otherwise you are really hoping to get lucky that the deer walks within that tiny 5 foot path. A good range is about 100 degrees, and the width should be 90 degrees.
Nothing can be more frustrating than spending several hundred dollars on a camera, only to have it damaged or stolen soon after. When purchasing a camera, be sure to look for a security box to keep it safe. Most good cameras will have one in the package. The box can surround the camera even as it is mounted on the tree, protecting it from deer AND thieves.
Obviously, the more you pay, the better camera you will get, FOR THE MOST PART. Some expensive cameras don’t work very well, while some low cost ones will do the job with adequacy. Know what to look for even as you try to stick to a decent price range. Remember, this camera is key to getting several deer/turkey, etc. during hunting season. Spend the money to get what you need. Sometimes you can buy a great camera off of a hunter who needs the money for other hobbies, which allows you to get a good deal. Shop around, and take the time to study the specs on your desired camera.
A good hunting camera is an invaluable tool when preparing for a hunt. It can be used for many years, and will ensure actual kills several times a year, if used correctly. The very best ones can cost over $500, but consider all the time you will save in scouting and waiting fruitlessly, and be willing to invest in this amazing tool.