I walked up to our second new trail camera to find well over one-hundred images on the chip after only 10 days.


I walked up to our second new trail camera to find well over one-hundred images on the chip after only 10 days.

Deer tracks, and our experience hunting this spot, told me it was a good location, but this good? I was a bit skeptical, but still as excited as a schoolboy at the Christmas dance.

At home, the computer revealed I indeed had deer photos — seven of them, and more than 100 great shots of tree limbs that obviously triggered the camera each time they swayed in the breeze.

Lesson no. 1; these things are way more sensitive than I ever dreamed, so make absolutely certain no rogue vegetation (tree limbs, weeds or otherwise) will end up blowing in front of the camera.

We just purchased our first two trail cameras, and maybe I can help some of you other first-time game camera owners learn from our mistakes. First of all, you don’t have to break the bank anymore to get a decent trail camera. We had put off buying them because of cost, but during our recent excursion to Bass Pro we found Moultrie Game Spy D40 Digital Game Cameras for $70.00 each; Moultrie’s suggested selling price is $129.00.

They are 4.0 megapixel cameras, have a 45-foot flash activation range, are advertised to average 60 days on six D-cell batteries and have more than enough other bells and whistles for my simple needs.

More money gets you longer flash range, infrared night photos with no flash, more megapixels, etc., but I don’t plan to enter these photos in any contest and images are amazingly clear. Another note here: images can be viewed in the field on a digital camera. Simply remove the chip, insert in your camera and use the “play-back” mode to view your photos.

The cases of these cameras have several eyes molded into them to aid with mounting, and they come with small bungees, but for us that’s where simplicity ended. We wanted the first one to provide surveillance at a corn feeder we have hung from a tree.

A common caution from game camera manufactures and users is to avoid facing the camera directly east or west toward the rising or setting sun, as the direct heat can “trick” the cameras infrared sensor into taking blank shots. That pretty much left us with no place to mount it, so a “T” post was used; good idea but try fastening a wide, flat object to a “T” post without it slipping or swiveling about.

After several haphazard wraps with a couple bungees, we deemed it good enough for our first try and traveled on to mount the second camera. Joyce has since designed a hook to hang the camera using an electric fence wire holder on a concrete rebar stake.

The second spot, where the amazing tree branch photos were shot overlooked a busy game trail in the corner of a soybean field. Most of the trees were either too big in diameter or too spindly. We chose a spot looking lengthways down the trail and after some creative pruning and several more willy-nilly wraps of the bungees, the camera was mounted.

Another lesson learned here besides the tree-limb issue, is looking down a game trail will get you lots of same-day, same-time photos of the same deer. It appears to me facing the camera at a right angle to the trail, or at least so it doesn’t look directly up or down it is a better choice.

It’s recommended the camera be mounted at waist level. Ours have a laser aiming feature that again, looks and sound easier to use than it really is. That little laser beam is tough to see in the daylight. The photos I have seen from our first attempts show me the coverage area of these cameras is large enough they will work just fine if hung fairly level and at the suggested height.

Ten different camera users will possible give you 11 different opinions as to when to start using these cameras as deer scouting tools, how often to check your photos and what if any precautions to take to avoid leaving human scent, so don’t be afraid to experiment and come to your own conclusions.

I see an endless number of fun uses for these clever tools, such as watching beavers near a dam, observing comings and goings of other wildlife on busy game trails and even watching a specific trap sight this winter. All new and unique ways to Explore Kansas Outdoors!

Steve Gilliland is a syndicated outdoors columnist, and can be contacted by e-mail at stevegilliland@embarqmail.com.