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Trail Camera Buyer's Guide

With so many trail camera options, how do you know which one is the best? We have tips on choosing the best trail camera.

June 09, 2023
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Trail Camera Buyer's Guide

My hunting buddy wasn't pleased. He was doing some scouting on his brother's farm and found a set of trespasser's boot prints embedded clearing at a stream crossing. Also, one of his tree stands had disappeared.

He moved one of his trail cameras to a nearby spot along the property line. Soon his efforts were rewarded via a set of clear pictures of not one, but four trespassers, clearly seen walking across the posted property line. He posted the pictures at his business and also emailed them to his mass list of customers.

Soon the people were identified. Maybe it wasn't as satisfying as bagging the monster buck he'd get later in the season, but bagging trespassers is one of the many trail camera uses that customers have found. That's becoming a popular application for those who hunt on leased land, often far from their homes.

The big words in imagery today are high definition. When you're comparing trail cameras, you may be thinking of megapixels. Megapixels are the number of pixels in an image, basically, the more pixels, the clearer the image will be. Also, when you enlarge an image taken with higher megapixels, it will be sharper than one with low (six or less) megapixels.

Many cameras have a video feature which can be adjusted for time periods ranging from 5 to 300 seconds. Most customers set the length of time for the video clips at around 30 seconds. Adjusting the length of the clips helps manage the amount of available memory on the SD card. Some cameras have a mode which allows multiple pictures to be taken in a short time, commonly called the burst feature.

For nighttime pictures, cameras will use a flash or illuminate the subject with infrared, shown by the letters IR. Many believe that the use of IR rather than flash is less likely to disturb or spook deer.

Using a trail camera allows you to hunt year-round and be in the field year-round, keeping tabs on the activity of deer and other game. And they're easy to set up; basically, if you can set an alarm clock, you can set up a trail camera.

Some basic tips: Starting from about twenty feet to the side of the camera (about two steps per second, the speed of a walking deer), walk in front of the camera from about ten feet away. Continue to walk until you are at least 20 feet beyond the camera, and wait about 30 seconds for the camera to process the image. Look at the resulting image to assess camera performance.

Get set up for scouting success at Sportsman's Guide

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