Luke Clayton: Cellular game cameras have many uses
Outdoors columnist talks about amazing capabilities of modern trail cams
Trail cameras have come a long way since the first one I used several decades ago. A company out of Louisiana sent me a “film” camera that actually recorded photos on 35-mm film. A string was set across a game trail and when the animal came by and put tension on the string, the camera’s shutter was tripped!
I remember using the camera for a few weeks and finally giving up on it. The photos were very bad, if the game actually triggered the camera at all, and then there was the cost of developing, etc. etc. It was simply more trouble than it was worth.
But when digital trail cameras where images were recorded on SD cards became popular, I was quick to purchase one and set it up on trails and feeders in the woods where I hunted. I’ve watched these trail cameras become more refined and reliable through the years.
Today there are many excellent trail cameras available. All the hunter needs to do is remember to keep fresh batteries in his cameras and carry along an SD card when he checks his cameras. He can review the images on the card via his laptop computer or a card reader that can actually be carried into the woods and read on the spot.
Trail cameras set in the woods around areas you hunt are extremely useful in patterning game as well as observing antler development, fawn survival rates, when the hogs are coming, etc. but they do require the hunter to actually go out and check them.
Wireless cellular trail cameras have become the gold standard when it comes to monitoring the woods and they have made great advancements in ease of operation, efficiency and cost in the past ten years or so. I remember a friend had one of the first wireless trail cameras about ten years ago. His camera sent images to a website and he actually accessed the website on his home computer to monitor the camera.
For the past few months, a good friend and I have been using a Stealth Wireless trail camera on my friend’s ranch in East Texas. Each time an animal moves in front of the camera, a photo is taken and sent immediately to our cell phones. I have found I’ve been spending way too much time during early morning and late afternoon, when the feeder goes off, watching to see what is coming to it! Observing what’s going on in this remote stretch of woods from home is almost as much fun as actually being there hunting!
Knowing the pattern of game is very helpful when planning a quick hunt. On several occasions, I have monitored the camera and timed quick hog hunt to coincide with peak activity. I have waited until hogs were moving in daylight hours and on each hunt, managed to have my pork in the cooler before darkness, which made butchering, etc. much easier during daylight hours.
For an initial cost of less than $200 for the camera and a monthly fee of about $5 (total), we are both now aware of when the hogs are coming to a particular feeder as well as watching the antler growth on a several whitetail bucks. It is now time for the whitetail does to give birth to this year’s crop of fawns. It will be interesting to watch these young deer mature and we can also keep tabs on mortality by predators.
The app for our Stealth Wireless camera is very user friendly and it is capable of monitoring several cameras. Our plan is to purchase another camera and place it on the opposite side of the property so that we can pattern game moving from one feeder to the next. The new camera will be set down on a creek; across the creek is a large tract of swampy land that few humans ever intrude upon. This is prime bedding area for wild hogs, it’s their bedroom where they spend the majority of the daylight hours. We will now be able to monitor totally undisturbed hogs going about their day to day feeding habits. We are expecting to see activity here throughout the day rather than just morning and evening.
Looking ahead to fall deer hunts, our plan is to monitor both cameras, especially during the rut and observe individual bucks cruising the property. While nothing will every replace boots on the ground scouting and woodsmanship, the use of these remote cameras is definitely a game changer. Where we used to depend strictly on reading sign such as tracks, buck scrapes and rubs, we will now be able to instantly keep tract of the movement of bucks during the rut as they are on the move seeking receptive does.
Until next week, here’s hoping you can get out and have some fun in the great outdoors. I’m planning on doing a little camping and setting a trotline set in a creek full of channel catfish. Oh yes, I will be needing some fresh pork backstrap for camp meals as well as pork liver for catfish bait. It just so happens, thanks to our Stealth camera, I know just where to hunt!
Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton with hunting or fishing news from your area via email at www.catfishradio.org .