This week I’m going to take a look at some of the features of many of today's trail cameras. All cameras have their positives and negatives and I plan on discussing many of these topics along the way.
Cameras that take pictures using film are quickly becoming a thing of the past. They were the first camera introduced for the use of wildlife surveillance. They were great when they were the only option available to hunters, but now digital cameras have been introduce. Film cameras only allowed 24 or at most, 36 pictures to be takes. With digital cameras and a 1+ gigabyte card, depending on the number of mega pixels your camera is, a hunter is able to capture hundred if not thousands of pictures without checking the camera. Also, instead of having to spend the money to get the film developed, you can easily insert the camera into a card reader or directly into your computer and view the pictures. There is no money wasted getting blank pictures developed.
Lately, there has been a push towards infrared cameras. They are though to spook the deer less because of the lack of a flash needed to capture a picture. Many think that the flash spooks the deer and will likely prohibit the deer from returning to the area. Others believe the deer simply accept as just a flash of light much like a bolt of lightning during a thunderstorm. In my experiences, the flash does seem to spook the deer. It doesn't run the deer out of the county but learn the location of the camera and generally begin to skirt the area. They may simply alter their travel only 10 yards, or just enough to escape the sudden flash of light. I rarely capture a mature buck more than once on a flash camera especially after hunting pressure increases.
With the use of infrared cameras, the flash is gone. Most IR cameras emit a 2-3 second array of glowing bulbs. The glow, instead of intense flash, is said to lessen the disruption on the deer. Call it coincidence or whatever you want, but I have been able to capture pictures of mature bucks repeatedly with the use of IR cameras. They do notice the glow of the bulbs, but as many suggest, it doesn't seem to truly spook them like a flash camera does. A downside to IR photos is the shorter distance they are able to be used. With just a glow from an array of bulbs, the distance the camera is able to see is not nearly as far as a flash camera, but this can be fixed by setting the camera closer to where the deer are expected to walk. IR photos are not as clear as color photos, but most IR cameras are at least clear enough to get an idea of what is on the property and in my opinion, that's all that matters. I don't plan on blowing up a trail camera photo to a 5x7 size and hang it on the wall. I just want to know what is out there and when it is passing by.
Recently, many trail camera manufacturers have incorporated both into their camera. They take color photos by day and IR by night. This gives the hunter the clarity of color photos during the day and prevents spooking deer with IR photos at night.
Most cameras now have the ability to take up to three pictures with a brief period of time. This is vital to catching a glimpse of nearly every deer that passes by the camera. If you are only able to capture one picture, you may only get a look at a doe that could be leading a buck or two during the rut. You may also only see the first buck in a bachelor group of bucks along a field edge during the summer months. Having a camera that is able to take more than one picture can prevent this from happening. It's not guaranteed that you will get a picture of all of the deer in a group, but chances are you will at least see more than one.