Do you ever wonder what big game— deer, elk, etc.— are up to all year long?
With trail cameras, you can get a front-line view of these animals’ activities in the wild. These cameras use a motion sensor(s) to capture game images, allowing you to monitor their patterns and prepare for the hunting season.
Long Battery life is a huge part of what makes a great trail camera. Less time changing out batteries means less time disrupting your hunting grounds. These hunting cameras take quality images and upload them on an SD card or send them to your phone in real-time.
To get the most out of your trail cameras, you must know when, where, and how to use them. We’ve laid out a detailed guide that’ll come in handy when pre-season scouting.
When to Set Up Your Trail Camera
There’s more to trail camera images than appealing shots of your game. You can use these images to gather information— physical characteristics, movements, eating habits, and bedding areas. However, to accurately collect this data, you need to master the best time to set up your game cams.
You may set up your game cams a month before the hunting season. However, with Bushnell trail cameras having up to 6 months of battery life, you can leave your trail camera out in the woods much longer.
Besides, seeing the animals before hunting season will get you hyped up, and you can gather some crucial hunting intel. You can also leave your game cams in place during the off season to take note of which animals made it through the hunting season.
During spring, you can use trail cameras to monitor your mineral sites, and to see what the turkeys are doing on your property.
Where to Place Trail Cameras
Set up your camera at a spot where you can actively monitor the movements of your game. We suggest setting up your cameras in high traffic areas so you can get maximum surveillance.
1. Food Sources
Animals will be looking for food during the hunting season. For example, deer will always be on the move to look for better food sources. Ensure you set your trail cameras pointed to the food source and adequately monitor the animals eating habits.
To identify the food sources, you need to establish a working knowledge of the foods your target game eats. For instance, deer love wild berries, wildflowers, vines, shrubs, and acorns.
Ensure you know where each type of plant occurs (e.g., dry upland, wetlands, fields, and forests) and the time of the year the plant actively grows (e.g., cool season or warm season).
2. Water Sources
Watering spots holes like streams, wallows, and lakes are also potential areas to scout for target game, especially during the rainy season. It’s important to note the type of water sources that your potential animal likes. For example, boars and feral hogs will prefer stagnant water to running water. Some hunters build waterholes to attract their potential target to a specific spot.
3. Trail Intersections
Big game trails are also great places to set up your game cams, especially where there’s an intersection. These crossroads usually mean the trail is used often and will allow you to monitor the movements of the animals in multiple directions, for instance, from food sources to bedding areas.
You can also get photos of new animals in your hunting area. When you set up your trail camera, place it in a central location where there’s a clear, unobstructed view.
4. Over Bait and Mineral Sites
Another great place to set up your game cams is over attractants or mineral sites. You can set up a mineral site to encourage movement.
How to Use Game Cams
Regardless of where you place your trail camera, you won’t get quality images if you don’t know how to use it right. Here are some steps on how to use game cams effectively:
Check the Trail Camera Settings
Ensure you test your trail camera before you leave for the woods. Check to see if the camera settings serve your pre-season scouting needs. For example, ensure the camera is set to capture the highest quality images – regardless of the lighting conditions.
Additionally, set your camera’s sensitivity only to capture moving animals and not false triggers like moving leaves and branches. Don’t forget to check batteries and SD cards.
Consider Trail Camera Mounts
Sometimes the hunting grounds you wish to scout on may not have trees to support your camera. You’ll need a steady, camouflaged mounting system to set up the camera appropriately.
Position the Trail Camera Correctly
Ensure your trail cameras are about 10 yards away from your target area so that it can focus on the game and capture quality images. You should angle your camera away from the sun, favorably the north or south.
It’s also recommended to avoid obstructions like trees and firmly secure your trail camera on the support to prevent it from moving out of position.
Have Enough Trail Cameras
To adequately monitor the movements of your target animals, one trail camera is not enough. You need several cameras to cover the whole area adequately. If you are on a budget, buy one at a time as you expand your coverage.
Check the Trail Camera’s Security
The woods aren’t safe, even for your game cams. Keeping your trail cameras safe in a camo lockbox is vital to protect it from curious animals and trespassers.
You can invest in trail cameras with GPS anti-theft alerts like the Bushnell Impulse Cellular Trail Camera that protects your game cams from theft.
One factor that may be derailing your hunting success is regularly checking up on your trail camera. This frequent intrusion may leave your scent in the area, prompting animals to move to safer grounds.
If you really need to check up on your game cams, place them in a transition area where you can enter and exit without being noticed.
You should also wear scent control clothing to mask the human odor. Additionally, invest in cellular trail cameras to limit your visits to the hunting area.
Improve Your Pre-Season Scouting with Bushnell Trail Cameras
Pre-season scouting for big game can be daunting. But you can make it fun and seamless with the right trail cameras. And this is where Bushnell comes in. We develop high-quality trail cameras to allow you to monitor your target game throughout the hunting season effectively.
With our broad collection of traditional and cellular trail cameras, we have something for everyone. Shop for a quality trail camera suitable for your hunting needs.