Kelly Bostian: Trail cameras offer unique views for hunters
BY KELLY BOSTIAN Outdoors
Sunday, September 30, 2012
9/30/12 at 6:27 AM
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With a stack of batteries and a wallet loaded with SD cards, longtime bowhunter and Pat's Archery shop owner Dean Anderson often heads to the field these days loaded for images.
"I like to call it camera hunting," he said. "It's really an added thing now that's fun to do. It's a tool, a hunting tool to see what you have out there, but it's fun too, to watch the bucks in velvet as their antlers grow and change and you just never know sometimes what you might get a picture of."
Anderson recently took me to a 160-acre property near Heyburn Lake to mount a couple trail cameras in new spots and to move another. With about 15 cameras watching the woods for him this fall, Anderson is among an ever-increasing number of hunters who have added remote camera technology to their bag of tricks.
The Okmulgee archery shop owner has used the cameras for years for hunting, but now as a real estate agent for Whitetail Properties, using a host of Reconyx brand trail cameras is part of his job.
"People look at buying a property for deer hunting, and it's one thing to talk about all the deer that have been hunted there over the years, but if you can actually show them recent pictures of deer on that property, then that's really something," he said.
The camera brand partnership and working with agents who know deer hunting and the outdoors is part of the real estate company's identity.
Many brands of the motion-sensor cameras are available and offer options to take everything from single black-and-white photos, bursts of several shots, to full color videos or infrared and black-infrared light.
"They go out the door as fast as we can put 'em on the shelves," said Tim Lee, hunting associate at Bass Pro Shops.
The technology improves every year. Black-infrared was new last year, creating a flash that is truly invisible to the human eye. Anderson said he even made use of a trail camera that will send photos as text messages to his phone.
At the Heyburn property, Anderson scouted fence crossings, ridges and field edges for deer tracks and found regularly used trails. The property is actively leased for deer hunting now, so food plots and feeders are in use. Placing a camera near a feeder to monitor its use is standard practice these days.
In other spots, he found travel corridors and made use of a mineral lick placed in range of a camera. Licks and food aren't always necessary, but they can cause an animal to pause for the camera.
It's important to point the camera north or south to avoid glare from direct sunlight.
For trail set-ups, the trick is to point the camera across the trail at an angle or down the trail, if possible.
"You never want to put the camera perpendicular to the trail. You'll just get pictures of tails," he said.
Check out the attached list of trail camera tips from Anderson and Lee.
Original Print Headline: Picturing the hunt
Trail cam setup tips
First, read the directions.
Point your camera toward the north or south to avoid direct sunlight in the lens.
Pay attention to the height and angle of the camera so you don't end up with pictures of just feet, or just backs.
Be sure to trim brush and tall grass around your camera so leaves don't block the view and the motion sensor doesn't give you repeated shots of windblown vegetation.
Try setting up your camera for a series of time-lapse shots of your food plot or crop field from a high vantage point at sunrise or sunset to learn which routes deer use to enter/exit the fields.
A pile of corn or mineral lick placed off a travel corridor with a camera can make deer pause so you can get more shots from different angles.
Both flash and infrared cameras have their ups and downs. Research and choose which is best for you in your hunting area.
Choose interval and photo quality settings that will allow you to leave the camera for several days without killing the battery or filling up the memory card.
Be aware of the "cone" of sensitivity of your camera and its reaction time so you can angle the camera to give yourself the best odds of catching deer in the frame before they pass.
Reaction time and the time it takes for the camera to reset and take a second photo are important things to note when choosing a camera.
Get two or three SD cards for your cameras and mark them so you know which camera they came from.
Video mode is great, but choose situations to use video carefully. It can take hours to review a hundreds of 10-second video clips.
Dean Anderson, a Whitetail Properties real estate agent, places a Reconyx trail camera on one of his properties near Heyburn Lake. KELLY BOSTIAN / Tulsa World
One of Dean Anderson's Reconyx trail cameras caught a photo of this buck on one of his properties. DEAN ANDERSON / Courtesy