Creative Trail Camera Tactics

Creative Trail Camera Tactics

I checked my trail cameras this past weekend and moved a few of them to new spots. After removing the SD cards, I was pleasantly surprised to find a diverse amount of wildlife on film. Chances are, if you read these blog postings every week, you will eventually see the best of them.By keeping my trail cameras out all year long I am able to gather an immense amount of knowledge about the wildlife that is on my hunting property, so when this time of year rolls around and the bucks are still clinging to their antlers before they shed (as my photos prove) I will mix up what I do with my cameras.

After months of setting camera up over feeders and trails, I will use some unusual tactics to get more creative pictures.

For the die-hard deer hunters out there, it’s not too late to make a mock scrape or a break a limb off above a pre-existing scrape, mimicking a licking branch, and then hang a camera nearby. I have a photo a nice 2.5 year old buck working a scrape, on February 16th. What about the turkey hunters who still have some time before the season opens? Well, I also have a sequence of photos of multiple turkeys milling around a frost-covered harvested soybean field at sunrise. The photo is worthy of a frame. Three toms were in that photo, providing some insight on their winter feeding patterns. In other words, just because the season may not be open for whatever game species you prefer, doesn’t mean you can’t learn something by having a trail camera out now.

Grey Fox near den site

Grey Fox near its den site

Then there are the trail camera addicts like myself who have multiple sets out trying to get photos of anything they can, just for fun. Don’t get me wrong, from August through December I am strictly in whitetail deer recon mode, but this is the time of year to have some fun with your cameras. For example, have you ever seen a log fallen over a creek? What about hanging a camera there? Raccoons, foxes, and even bobcats use these crossings regularly, making great pictures. What about that fox hole in the ground, which you suspect to be a den? Set up a camera there and see what kind of activity you observe. Even setting up a camera over the frozen banks of a pond can result in some great photos of egrets or herons. When doing this, don’t be afraid to orient your cameras differently. I have set up cameras that are 5-6 feet off the ground, angled downwards to the trail it is overlooking. This is a common technique used in areas with a high bear density to prevent camera damage. The same can be said in hilly terrain when hanging a camera at the base of a tree, facing upwards. This technique is ideal for strutting turkeys, just be sure not to hang the camera facing in direct sunlight to prevent false triggers.

If cabin fever is slowly driving you insane, grab a trail camera or two and head for the woods. You would be surprised at the amount of wildlife activity that can be captured on film this time of year. Not only is this a perfect time to incorporate your family into the fun, you will most likely learn something about the game animals on your property that may benefit you when hunting season arrives.

  • Andrew Walters

  • Andrew Walters is an Edgecombe County native and spends much of his time pursuing wild game and fishing across eastern North Carolina with his family and his fiancé, Noelle. His passion for the outdoors was the driving force that led him to North Carolina State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Science in 2014. He was the President of the NCSU Quality Deer Management Association club and continues to be an avid member of QDMA. After graduating, he earned his real estate license and joined the Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms team in Greenville, NC. He is a freelance outdoor writer and has had a number of featured articles in the Wildlife in NC magazine, as well as, Mossy Oak Gamekeepers. Andrew is also a major contributor to the Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms weekly blog, the Management Minute. His extensive knowledge of wildlife management coupled with his ability to identify plant and tree species provides him the unique ability to help clients not only identify, but manage their property to maximum potential. Andrew’s enthusiasm and knowledge enables him to properly navigate the channels necessary in “finding your favorite place” outdoors, as well as, developing a wildlife management plan specifically tailored for your piece of ground. Contact Andrew today to find out how he can help you find and manage your next dream property.

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