As we sit here on the edge of summer, fawns are being born and bucks are beginning to start showing their headgear they will constantly be growing for the next few months. Now is the time a lot of managers are getting their cameras tuned up and itching to get them in the field and hopefully snap a few photos of these events.

Well, most people find a good trail or have a “go to spot” where they have a camera year in and year out. Below, I’ll share several tips to make you more successful with your cameras.

1.)  Check once, check twice, check three times:  First and foremost, do a check on your cameras to make sure they are working as well as when you put them away. It’s easy to do. Just set them up in your yard and trigger them, making sure they are in working order.
2.)  Fresh Batteries:  Even though you stored your cameras last year with decent battery life, check the batteries again. This ties back to my first tip:  check, check, check. Also, don’t be cheap on batteries. You’ve spent hundreds of dollars on cameras – now, spend a few extra dollars on good batteries. And check the expiration date! Yes, batteries have those too.
3.)  What’s that smell? : When you are hunting, you are cautious of wind and your scent. Why is scouting or checking cameras any different? Controlling your scent to and from your cameras is crucial. Knee boots sprayed down with whatever scent control product you use is a must. You will not only see more activity at your camera sites you will see more relaxed animals at these locations.
4.)  Location is key:  Location is key when hunting and cameras are no different. Essentially, you are just hunting through a lens. Different times of year require different strategies. In the near term, you should concentrate on highly desired food sources such as bean fields. Later, don’t overlook scrapes as a key location as well. These are especially good at allowing you to inventory your bucks using the area.

5.)  Prepare the Location: 
Once you have selected your location it is time to set the camera. Make sure the field of view is clear of sticks, branches, vegetation, etc… these can trigger your camera and also get in the way of deciphering and collecting key details about the image. 
6.)  North, South, East, West:  Sun glare and lack of sun make some images unusable for identifying what triggered your camera. This is usually an issue resulting from simply facing the camera toward the wrong compass heading. Avoid facing your cameras east and west due to the sun rise and set. Focus on keeping your cameras facing north as much as possible for better images. South is second best.
7.)  Out of sight, out of mind: 
If you want to take your cameras to the next level, try different angles and locations. This can keep them out of the normal field of view this will not only limit the alert of animals but minimize the possibility of having a camera come up missing.
8.)  MAKE SURE YOUR CAMERA IS ON!  Everyone has had some level of experience with not turning a camera on at some point and if you haven’t, you will. It’s inevitable. To avoid this, develop a series of steps at each camera, with the last step being check battery level and make sure it is on. 
9.)  Two is better than one:  My last tip is about the retrieval of images from your cameras and it’s themed in twos. First, run two cards per camera. That way you can get to each camera, quickly swap cards, and you are in and out with minimal impact. Second, check your cameras no more frequently than every two weeks. This is also intended to minimize impact.  If an area is producing well, you may swap cards every week, but less is typically best.

For more information on the topic of Trail Cameras, checkout a very helpful book titled Deer Cameras The Science of Scouting - by QDMA .

Benjamin Williams
Ol' Tin Cup Habitat Restoration and Enhancement
Phone: (315) 879-7802


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