Although it sounds as though the use of a trail camera is as simple as picking a likely spot to hang it, set it out aimed along a well used path and wait for the great shots to come rolling in. Clearly, the reality is somewhat different and there are some pitfalls that you must think about and avoid in order to get the most out of your trail camera.
Clear the Area
For starters you will have to do some early season ground work to set up the shooting field. Clearing away overhanging or dense foliage that could get in the way of your shot will certainly help. Apart from making the area clearer to get the shot, you will be clearing travel lanes for the deer and this will give you more of a chance to create a preferred channel for the animals to move along.
The process of creating clear and defined traveling lanes will encourage the bucks to move into camera range more willingly. Deer prefer to move through paths of the least resistance and if you get out there early enough and create these easy paths you will be setting the location up for a feast of photo opportunities.
Down Trail v Cross Trail
Rather than set the camera so that it is aiming straight across the trail, you should try to set it up on an angle shooting down the trail slightly. This will give you a longer exposure to the deer as they move along the trail. You will be far more likely to capture the entire animal as it walks by rather than just the rear quarters. As can be seen by the photo displayed here, by aiming the camera slightly down the trail you get a shot that captures the entire deer in the frame.
Get the Trail Camera Back Far Enough
Setting up the trail camera so that the field of vision is as wide and as long as possible will give you a greater chance of capturing the entire animal in the photo. This will require a decent distance from the camera to the trail itself, say around 15 to 20 feet.
This will require some intimate knowledge about each camera’s detection range. Even though the advertised detection range is 60 or 70 feet, it is best that you do some testing to get a feel for the optimal range for your particular camera. A trail camera with a decent detection zone will provide you with the opportunity to move the camera off the trail while still be close enough to trigger as the deer move past.
Don’t Shoot Into the Sun
The position of the sun is going to affect the quality of the shot. When you position the camera you should be trying to place it to the south of the target area. It would be a shame to ruin the majority of the photos that are taken because the camera is pointing directly into the sun.
Get the Height Right
Trail camera positioning can vastly change your results and the height at which the camera is placed can be important for a couple of very different reasons.
The first revolves around the darker side of human nature. Theft is still a problem and there are a lot of people wandering around in the wilderness who think nothing of removing a trail camera from a tree if they see one. Part of the process of successful trail camera positioning, unfortunately, involves hiding your camera from human eyes.
The alternative is to buy additional equipment to lock your camera to the tree so that it can’t be removed. Some people will do this as a matter of course, others may decide that the cost of the camera doesn’t justify the expense of the lock boxes and cables required to keep it secure.
The bottom line is that if you want to ensure you will see your photos you are going to have to place your camera somewhere where it won’t be detected.
The other factor about the height of the camera placement centers around the quality of the photo or video that will result. The placement must be high enough off the ground that it is out of direct view of the deer but not so high that it has been taken out of the camera’s detection zone range.
As long as the location has been cleared of overhanging branches and there is a good view for a decent proportion of the area, a high placement for your camera is going to give you good results and will keep it out of the prying eyes of humans and animals alike.
There are many different factors to consider that are going to affect the results of your trail camera placement. Some will change the results only by degrees and may not be crucial to your success. But getting things as right as possible is sometimes only a matter of common sense.