Getting The Most From Your Trail Camera

A trail camera is a valuable tool for those that hunt. By providing key information, including the presence of game, size, and travel movement, the odds can be put in your favor for a more successful hunt.
Setting your camera up correctly will lessen the chances for missed or sub-par shots. Follow these handy tips the next time you head out into the field.

1. Face North or South

The direction your camera faces when mounted will have a direct correlation to the quality of images. Always point the unit north or south. If facing east or west, the rising and setting of the sun can produce false triggers and overexposed images.

2. Height Requirements

Mounting your camera four to five feet high is a good rule of thumb to follow. Your camera should also be angled slightly down, which can easily be achieved by wedging a small branch behind the back of the unit.

Keep in mind this is just a suggestion. Depending on the size of the animal you are targeting, raising or lowering the height is recommended.

3. Sensitivity

Setting your camera to the highest sensitivity setting will result in better image or video captures. However, if the area you are set up in is comprised of long vegetation or is heavily treed, a lower sensitivity setting will be beneficial in order to negate the chances of false triggering.

Keep the setting high if faced with wide open and uncluttered areas.

4. Trigger Speeds, Mega Pixels and Effective Range

Utilizing a trail camera that has the quickest trigger speed, the highest MP’s, while also having the greatest effective range will produce the best images and videos. If in the market for a new unit, keep these two options in mind. As with most hunting aids, you do often get what you pay for.

5. Angle Your Camera to the Trail

Always angle your camera at a 45-degree angle to a trail, if not hunting over bait, a scrape, or rub. Doing so will increase the trigger time exponentially, allowing you a greater chance to capture the complete animal in the frame.

6. Neutralize Your Scent

A whitetail deer’s sense of smell can be anywhere from 500 to 1,000 times more acute than a human’s. Best practice when setting up your trail camera is to wear gloves to lessen the chance of transferring scent. At the least, use a scent neutralizing spray or wipes before walking away from your unit. Always be careful not to get any spray on the lens.

7. Go For a Big Card

Have you ever retrieved your camera only to discover that your memory card is maxed out? Unfortunately, It has happened to us all.

Go with the biggest memory card your trail camera will accept. For my Stealth Cam unit, that is 32GB. A reputable and brand-name card is also your best bet. Although no-name cards can be attractive due to a lower price point, the likelihood of card errors and sub-par images and videos will be more prevalent.

8. Upgrade to Black Flash

Typical flashes on cameras produce a white light that can startle animals. Standard infrared cameras use a burst of red light to illuminate subjects at night. A black flash, or no glow flash, uses a low glow or no glow flash, which is the least detectable.

In my experience, coyote, wolf, and red fox are very aware and skittish when using a standard infrared camera.

9. Take a Test Shot

The majority of my trail cameras have a built-in viewing screen. The advantages to this is the ability to check images or videos while out in the field, but also for reviewing a test shot after setting up your cam.

A test shot will ensure that height placement is correct while also giving you a general idea of what is contained in the coverage area.
If your unit doesn’t have a screen, simply place your cell phone on top of the camera and take an image.

Game cameras are essential to having a successful hunting season. Give these tips a go the next time you hit the woods – and reap the rewards of some picture-perfect captures.

A successful hunt start with scouting! Visit Sportsman’s Guide for a wide selection of trail cameras.

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11 Responses to “Getting The Most From Your Trail Camera”

  1. Glenn Reichert

    I enjoy sportsmansguide very much and have for years You never know what’s going to be up for sale. I enjoy this very much. Thank You, Glenn

    • Glenn Reichert

      If I can I would love to get the catologs in California if the mail goes to a current resident the personell will keep it . My wife and have been. Here for45 years we are not leaving please address to Glenn Reichert @ 3449 Maine ave. Baldwin Park,Ca.91706

  2. jonny5buck

    Thanks for the article Justin, I have had plenty of false readings because of the rising and setting sun on my trailcams. I always seem to hang mine at ”hip” high and have had good success with photos. I would just add that I also use mine as a scouting tool ,and to do that properly the camera needs to set without checking for quite a period of time . The camera is gathering the information and confirming deer movement to and from bedding and rut movements. If I spent that time checking my trailcam every few days or every week for that matter it can surely spook wary deer from that path. I usually check the pictures from the SD card and hunt that spot immediately or take the SD card and or trailcam out with me after a hunt. Deer can pick up on scent and sign on the ground no matter how scent free you are. They see crushed vegetation from foot traffic and live only by being alert to ANY presence of anykind. Trail cams can help with that edge by eliminating the biggest mistake hunters make in my opinion, and that is being in the woods too much . I only enter the woods during deer season to hunt.

  3. Fran E Ludwig

    Good reviews on camera setup! My biggest problem is camera thieves I lost 1to2 cameras a year different areas! Would love to catch them! Any ideas?

    • Al Stocks

      I have also had cameras stolen. To make sure I don’t forget one and later think it has been stolen, each location is marked on Hunt Stand, free download. Cameras are secured and, in some cases, protected by “anti theft” devices. Since nothing can deter 100% of the low life, my are mounted as inconspicuously as possible. Natural appearing brush & dead limbs are often seen against tree trunks. These can be constructed quite easily. Placing cameras in relatively inaccessible spots away from roads and trails makes them less likely to be discovered. Lastly, thorns have been identified by placing a second high in a tree camera aimed at the first is a great help. Use a climbing stand or ladder to mount the camera. Aim it downward so it will capture images of the two legged vermin. Good luck.

    • Leo Bankowki

      I think most of us have had equipment stolen, sadly. I hang and secure my game camera(s) then use my climber to hang one real high facing down at my other(s) effectively catching the thieves on the higher camera. just a thought.

  4. Robert armentrout

    Thank you for sharing such an informative article Justin. Very kind of you to assist others with the benefit of your knowledge and expertise.

  5. Scott McCutcheon

    Concerning the article “Getting the most out of your Trail Camera” Tip number 2, Height “Requirement”, I have found that elk are very inquisitive and like to lick my cameras. I have hundreds of photos of elk tongues, noses, and even teeth. I got one series of photos were an elk pulled my camera off a small tree (attached with bungee cords) and then licked it when it was on the ground (I then got 2000+ photos of clouds). So now I try to place my cameras at least 7 feet off the ground when in elk areas. I also had a camera attached to an old stump, and a bear came along and ripped the stump apart. Keep ’em high!

  6. Anita Jackson

    I love this and the information and tips

  7. john

    Game cameras are essential to having a successful hunting season. Give these tips a go the next time you hit the woods – and reap the rewards of some picture-perfect captures. What did people do before trail cameras to have a good season hunting, just curious??