Trail camera not just for big game

Nowadays, just about everyone is using trail cameras for hunting, but the real question is, “Are you getting your money’s worth out of your camera and using it to its full potential?” Most hunters dust the camera off about mid-August to early September, slap batteries and an SD card in it, make sure dates are right, slap it on a tree and hope for the best.

The average user probably only gets 4 – 5 months’ worth of use out of a camera on 1 to 2 sets of batteries. You have to figure most guys put out their cameras a month, maybe two, before season starts and pull it down a week or two after the season is done when they pull down their stands. Now I know some people have to remove stuff from farms because they lease or rent out hunting ground and aren’t sure if they will have it again next year. But if you don’t have to worry about that, there are a lot more uses for trail cameras other than just scouting the season.

The cameras that I choose to use are Moultrie cameras. Now I know there are better ones on the market and worse ones on the market…but for the best bang for your buck, easiest setup and reliability, I’m picking Moultrie every day hands down. However that’s an argument for another day. I use my cameras from about mid-July to early May. Now I know you’re thinking, “what the heck are you using your cameras that much for” and “you must have more time on your hands than you know what to do with to be checking cameras that much.”

Like I said, my cameras go out in mid-July and I usually don’t check them till midway through August so they are out for a month before I even do anything with them. After that I check them about every 10 – 14 days coming up to the season. Once season gets started I usually check them on a weekly basis until about mid-December. Remember, 80% of my cameras are on field edges – not right next to stands and not in the woods. I do this for less pressure.

Now you may be asking why I am running cameras for four months after deer season. The answer is easy really – deer season leads to shed season, and shed season leads to turkey season, and all year leads to trespasser season.

After deer season I run my camera to know when to start shed hunting and to find out which bucks I still have on my property and what new ones have shown up to the winter food plots. Now on a normal year, I start shed hunting at the beginning of February but because my cameras are still out, I can see that 80% of the bucks are still holding where in most years, it’s usually around 50% and the two big boys I really want to find are still holding. Knowing this allows me to not push them out of the area in hopes that I might still find them.

Turkey hunting and trail cameras:

Over the past three years, I have started using my trail cameras for scouting spring turkeys. This mainly happened because I was too lazy to pull the cameras before turkey season started and it ended up working to my advantage on a tough season. What I have learned is that it helps do some scouting early in the morning but really helps on mid-morning hunting. By running cameras through turkey season it really helps me find strut zones and what time the strut zones are being used. This especially helps on those days where nothing is talking between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Knowing that a bird has been strutting in the same spot for the past five days at 11 o’clock really helps your odds.

The one thing you always hate to find on your trail camera is someone that shouldn’t be there – trespassers. Whether it is hunting season, shed season or off-season, the last thing you want is to have people walking around your property doing who knows what. Cameras can help keep your property the way you want it – unpressured and full of wildlife.

Matt Brunet
MattB@Heartalndlodge.com

Last Updated: February 24th, 2015

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