Technology is woven into most facets of our daily lives. And as much as I enjoy stepping away from technology in the great outdoors, I love running game cameras.
Call them what you will — game cameras, trail cameras, scouting cameras or whatever — they have been around for about a decade. In the past few years, their popularity has exploded. Most hunters I know are using some form of game camera to monitor the deer on their property.
Game cameras are movement activated, so they take a picture of anything passing in front of the camera.
Now, the bells and whistles vary greatly on the countless different models of scouting cameras available. Some have flashes, while others are infrared. Some take video, and some don’t. Some email pictures from the woods to your computer, while others simply record to memory chips. Some models cost a ton, but others can be bought for under a hundred dollars.
In the end, you’ll have to decide what features matter to you, but what I prefer is a camera with a good megapixel count (six or more), the ability to capture video and 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 viewer so I don’t have to mess with transporting chips — because chances are I’ll lose one.
Game cameras are a tool, but more than anything, they’re fun. Placing, monitoring and removing scouting 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.
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.
A few places to set up your cameras to capture shots at this time of year are along agricultural fields, at water sources and over mineral licks. 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.
In Indiana, you can’t hunt over mineral licks, such as salt blocks or other products used to attract deer, but you can take pictures over them. If you have an area where you can set up a mineral lick and camera without infringing on your hunting spot, doing so is a great way to capture pictures. Deer come to the lick and stand there for a while. They’re posing without knowing it.
Running game cameras is both fun and educational. It gets you out in the woods and helps build excitement for the coming season.
Game cameras are available just about everywhere hunting products are sold.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.