Friday, July 18, 2014

Game Camera Time

If you look ahead on the calendar, you may notice something. Well, if you are a deer hunter you will. The season is quickly approaching.
Antlers are starting to fill out and fawns are tagging along with mom. Besides clearing lanes, checking the progress of food plots, and making sure your equipment had made it this far through the summer, it is time to get the cameras in the fields and game trails.
There are some rules that can help when setting cameras. Along with a little creativity and general photographic knowledge, you may increase your odds of spotting Mr. Big as he develops and follow one of those sage like sayings; “Hunt where the deer are.”
One of the first things you will learn in a photography class is how to position for lighting. Game cameras are no exception, especially with the infrared sensors. A camera facing east or west can develop a condition where the shot is all white during sunrise or sunset, depending on the direction. The bright sun along with the photo sensor picking up a low light condition otherwise causes this.
The thing that always bothered me when this happened is this; the camera was triggered for a reason and it wasn’t a rising or setting sun. There was something there and I just missed it. Not only that, but these are the prime times when the deer are out and I am allowed to shoot. If I am after Mr. Big in full velvet during the first week or two of the season, and my white screens are a result of a doe and a couple of fawns, I just missed my chance of hunting the location where Mr. Big travels. Or worse, I didn’t hunt the spot because I never saw Mr. Big on the photo.
If the tree line faces east or west, try angling the camera down the tree line rather than straight out. When a deer is close enough to trigger the shutter, you may notice deer further down the line and can locate your stand accordingly. This type of shot covers a much broader area than straight out into the field.
If you are catching deer only on the nighttime shots, pay attention to the direction they are facing as they come in and leave. This early into the summer gives you time to move the camera the opposite direction so you can locate where they are entering the fields, again increasing your odds by allowing to you place your stand accordingly.
Another tip is to never place the camera settings on one photo then have a long wait. Today’s digital trail cameras can store tons of photos and with infrared prices coming down to meet the old flash style cameras, battery usage is not a major issue either.
If the settings do not take photos at least every minute during activity, you may miss Mr. Big. After going through thousands of photos a few years ago, I changed the settings on the shutter delays. What I came to find out was about 30 seconds after two small bucks would come into view, a nice three year old with a beautifully symmetrical rack would walk from left to right about five to ten rows deep in the corn field. At most, I would catch him in two frames. However, if I had the delay set for any significant length of time I would have never known he was in that field.
Many of today’s cameras also have an automatic time lapse setting, and feel free to experiment with it. A random photo every minute or two from an hour before sunset until an hour after sunrise will surprise you. Deer that are too far to set the motion detector on the camera, may not be too far for the camera to pick up, even on the infrared shots. I had one particular shot that picked up a small buck clearly but in the distance I could make out several sets of eyes. After taking the frame and playing with the contrast and brightness I was able to make out a pair of eight pointers that I would not have otherwise seen.
So get those cameras out and play with them in the fields. Come September, you may reap the rewards.


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