If you've ever suspected there was a big buck roaming your favorite hunting grounds, you probably wished you could monitor the area 24/7. But that's virtually impossible unless you use a trail cam.
Trail cams are motion-activated, weatherproof cameras that can be strapped to trees or posts to monitor wildlife activity. Hunters, birders, and watchers find trail cams equally useful. There's real excitement to watching deer and other wildlife grow and mature through the year.
Most Octobers I find several prominent buck rubs in some sumac stands close to the house. I know whitetail bucks are responsible, but I don't see many bucks. They get wary this time of year.
Deer routinely clean up the sunflower seeds that fall to the ground beneath my birdfeeders, but it's always does and yearlings. I've never seen a buck at the feeders during daylight hours. But I know they're around.
So a few years ago when a neighbor stopped by and asked if he could set up a trail cam near the rubs, it sounded like a great idea. Just a few days later, he had images. There were no monster bucks, but at least I knew a few bucks lived nearby.
If you're scouting areas for this year's deer season, you might consider using a trail cam. Within just a few days, you'll know whether or not it's worth investing time in a particular location. You simply strap the camera to a post or tree and point it toward a prominent buck rub or heavily used trail.
There are many trail cams on the market, so here are a few features to keep in mind.
Image quality is important and is often indicated by the number of megapixels the camera has. More megapixels is better, but the lens quality is also a factor. Go to a big outdoors store, find a knowledgeable salesperson, and ask questions.
The ability for a camera to operate at night is essential because most mammals are nocturnal. LED flash provides nice full-color images, but the bright light may spook deer and other wildlife. Flash range is also important. At what distance will the flash be effective?