What to look for when buying a trail Camera
While so many of us are grabbing whatever little bit of summer that is left by hanging out at the beach or the local swimming pool, there are those that are quietly preparing for the upcoming hunting season. These folks are trying to gain every little edge they can, which means more than just checking your equipment and wondering where in the basement you put your hunting boots or walking through your local Bass Pro Shops to see what sales are going on to buy the newest equipment for this season. Here is a great tip to help you gain an edge over your quarry, and over the other guy who just doesn’t think about putting in a bit more effort.
OK, so you're an experienced hunter. You’ve done all the "right things". You’ve scouted, you’ve read sign, and you’ve checked all the scenarios. Now you’re ready to go. At least you thought you were. You've set up in a spot that's perfect for that big black bear, or deer. All the tell-tale signs are there, everything looks good, but you get skunked! Why? It could be just the "roll of the dice" (which happens), or maybe it's because you never really knew or found out what, if anything, is coming through the area you set up in that's worth hunting. That's changed. Welcome to hunting in the 21st century.
Years ago, hunters would rig a simple string that they'd run across a trail and attach a clock and/or timer in a small box to it. An animal tripping the "string" would register on the timer, and you'd know WHEN that animal was there. Of course, you wouldn't know its size, or maybe not even the type of animal it was (a squirrel could trip that string as well as a deer or bear). Also, you'd have to reset the trail camera after each time it was tripped. That’s a lot of work for not much information.
In today's market, there are lots of different electronic devices -- and that includes trail cameras. We strongly advise doing very detailed research, speaking to hunters you know who have experience with these devices, and go to a reputable seller, where you can actually "see and feel" the equipment and get demo lessons. These types of electronics are always present at hunting trade shows as well. Do your homework before spending a dime!
As time has progressed, these electronic devices have improved – and today's main "attractions" are trail cameras. These cameras can be absolutely amazing. The quality of the imaging is incredible. And infra-red laser beams are incorporated to "trip" the mechanism in real time. By the way, you should make sure that there is no delay when the photo or video begins. Finding out the reaction time on these cameras once they're tripped is essential. If there's a delay, as with some point-and-shoot digital cameras, you may end up missing the animal and just see empty space. Trail cameras will take a single photo. They will take streaming video. They have batteries that can last for days. They have that little, simple SD cards that you can pull out of a slot in the camera in a nanosecond and then "read" on your computer or TV at home; OR they can be read right in the field. You'll know exactly the type of animal, its size, time it was there, and maybe some "habits."
And now -- the cost. You can get a still-photo trail camera for as low as $60. Then you can get video, or a combo of both still and video. Particular retail outlets have trail cameras that run around $600. We suggest Keeping It Simple. Meaning, buy only what you really need. You can always upgrade. You can usually add on "bells and whistles." Remember, you're not doing work for National Geographic. You want it simple. You want it to work. You want accuracy. So be cautious and be slow before you buy.
As we usually do here at Bass Pro, we like to pass on "real world" moneysaving ideas for everything that we talk about: When not using these cameras for hunting (which is most of the time), set them up in or around your home or valued storage areas as "security cameras." They work beautifully, are rugged, and will prevent theft – or worse! Remember, these cameras can and will trigger an alarm on your computer or other simple electronic set-up.
Meet all of your Fishing, Hunting, Boating & Outdoor needs at the Bass Pro Shops in Oklahoma City, OK. Follow our link for all store information, upcoming events & more.
Good luck and good "shooting" -- and that includes the use of your camera!