Sitka Mountain Gear
Game Camera advice
Mule Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Jims 04-Jul-20
JL 04-Jul-20
longbeard 04-Jul-20
Jasper 04-Jul-20
keepemsharp 04-Jul-20
Grunter 04-Jul-20
Ambush 04-Jul-20
JL 04-Jul-20
Jims 04-Jul-20
Adventurewriter 05-Jul-20
Inshart 05-Jul-20
Inshart 05-Jul-20
Jasper 05-Jul-20
SteveB 05-Jul-20
Jims 01-Aug-20
nowheels 06-Aug-20
White Falcon 06-Aug-20
Smtn10PT 06-Aug-20
DanaC 09-Aug-20
JL 09-Aug-20
From: Jims
04-Jul-20
I'm new to the game camera scene and have lots to learn. I bought a couple Browning Defender 940 cameras and am trying to narrow down the many setting choices. I will likely be setting them up at waterholes in open sage/rimrock country where there is no trees. I have a feeling most of the deer will be watering early and late in the day as well as night.

I likely won't be able to check cameras for at least a couple weeks at a time so battery life and filling SD cards is a concern. Obviously the more photos and higher definition photos will take up more room on an SD card and shorten battery life.

Here are a few settings my Defender camera has that I'm trying to figure out:

Photo Quality: my camera has a range from 4 to 20 MP. I'm wondering if in low light conditions if 4 mp is good enough?

Picture Delay: How much time between pictures. My camera goes from 5 seconds to 60 minutes between photos. If one buck comes in and others follow I'm sure it would be good to take several photos. Also a rump may show up in a photo and miss the deer antler photo.

Single Photo or Multi-Shot Modes: 1 to 8 photos taken at a time. As an example 2 photos could be taken 2 seconds apart. There is also a Rapid Fire mode where 2 to 8 photos are taken at 0.3 intervals.

TimeLapse: Photos can be set up to be taken right and sunrise and sunset of areas when deer may be outside the motion detection zone.

Anyway, I thought I would toss this out there and see what settings people have had success or failure with game cameras. I have my camera set up at home on bird bath and feeders to get a feel for performance and settings.

From: JL
04-Jul-20
My useless two cents....there are alot of threads on here about cams. You can do a Google search using Bowsite as one of the terms. Maybe try "Bowsite trail cams".

1. Use Energizer lithium AA's....EBay. Don't pay over $1 each for them...including shipping. You can get new ones for 75 cents each if you buy bulk and move quick.

2. SD cards.....I use mostly 16gb and 32gb and that is plenty. Get them off of EBay. Get extras so you can swap cards. If you have 5 cams, get at least 10 cards. I have a little plastic container I keep the cards, new batteries and lock keys in. It keeps everything organized.

3. I'm a vid guy, not a picture guy. You get more info about the target with a vid vs just a photo. If you set up on a water hole you'll get some vids but not enough to fill up a card. (See #5 below)

4. Everyone is different but I set my delay to 1 minute and 30 second vids.

5. Don't face the cam into the sun.....you'll get false triggers with the shadows and light. Make sure no tall grass, weeds or limbs are in front or on the side near the sensor, you'll get false triggers.

6. I always reformat my SD cards after viewing the vids. If you don't, you might get card errors or unreadable cards on the cam.

From: longbeard
04-Jul-20
What JL says is spot on specifically set them up facing North if possible. I set my cam for 8-10 mp’s and the quality is fine. Also set at 30 sec delay or 1 minute delay. I always reformat my SD cards but you will get better picture quality for a longer period of time if you reformat right in the camera itself instead of card reader or laptop. Good luck!

From: Jasper
04-Jul-20
Here’s what I would do: 3 pic burst, 1 min interval, 6 more. Hide it the best you can. I know you said no trees but if there happen to be some put it up high and angle it down to be less conspicuous. ALWAYS test it before leaving. Take a few pics even if you’re putting a new card in! Cams can be fickle sometimes and you may need to reset the card or turn cam off and on to make it work. I’ve even had cams that a card just won’t work in but will in other cameras. Good luck! John

From: keepemsharp
04-Jul-20
Longer delays is good or you get 1,000 pix of blowing grass.

From: Grunter
04-Jul-20
Use lithium batteries. Minimum 16 gb. I do 3 shot bursts. And 10 megapixels. My delay after pics would be like 15 seconds. But water holes are different. The animals could be there for awhile so I would set the delay on a minute or 2. Videos are fun but take more battery and alot longer to view.

From: Ambush
04-Jul-20
A cool tip I learned here on Bowsite: After positioning your cam, place your cell phone flat on it and take a pic , then you can see if you’re covering your target area the way you want.

I also like a three pic burst with thirty second delay. Video is ok if you expect little action, but it gets very tedious watching several hundred fifteen or thirty second video clips.

I have one cam that stays out for about six months without checking. And with low resolution it will take a few thousand pics and still take my pic when I come to get it.

From: JL
04-Jul-20
Ref the vids. Cams set up on a bait pile in vid mode will chew up some batteries....unless you have one of the solar cams. I've filled up 8gb cards over bait but I don't think I ever filled up a 16gb card like that when checking weekly. Regular cams set on 30 second vids placed on trails, crossings, paths and other non-frequent locations won't fill a 16gb card in two weeks...not even close. I don't think a water hole cam in vid mode will fill up a card with critter vids. I've had creek-crossing cams and never come close to filling up a card. Over bait piles it was common to have between 300-400, 30 second HD vids on a card and I was checking weekly.

When viewing your SD card using a MS platform computer and you are in the File Explorer, open up "View" in the top toolbar and select "Large Icons" . This will show an icon pic for all the vids and you can see what's on them. If there is nothing pictured, it could be a false trigger, a bird flew by or landed on the cam, shadow, windy, etc. Another clue is select "Details" and if you have a bunch of vids grouped at one minute intervals (if your cam is set to one minute delay), that is often something triggering the cam and not a target critter. You can by-pass those vids.

From: Jims
04-Jul-20
Wow, great tips guys! Some great suggestions so far! Keep them coming! Does anyone have any additional tips for waterhole cameras? I'll likely be placing the camera hidden close to the ground. It will be on public land so I also have to worry about them disappearing!

05-Jul-20
Someone on another thread suggested some flagging tape away from the camera at a key walking point to distract their attention to the tape and they miss your camera...I'm gonna do it on my moose cams...

From: Inshart
05-Jul-20
I have done is get a bigger battery (12 volt - like the ones for an "aqua-view" or something) and use an attachment to your camera - they last a LONG time and easy to recharge and less than $30.00 at Menards. On public property that could be an issue tho.

From: Inshart
05-Jul-20
I have done is get a bigger battery (12 volt - like the ones for an "aqua-view" or something) and use an attachment to your camera - they last a LONG time and easy to recharge and less than $30.00 at Menards. On public property that could be an issue tho.

From: Jasper
05-Jul-20
If you have issues with cameras getting stolen or worried about it, hide another camera watching the original. I’ve busted 2 morons stealing my cams that way. Got restitution on both and no more theft

From: SteveB
05-Jul-20
One important tip....on public ground don’t use expensive cameras. Buy cheap ones off Camofire for $30-$35 each. Trail cam Tuesday’s.

From: Jims
01-Aug-20
I'm curious if anyone puts logs or brush across trails to funnel bucks to trails that lead directly in front of cams? Hopefully this wouldn't spook resident bucks that use the same area on a regular basis?

From: nowheels
06-Aug-20
Lots of good tips here. Regarding your last question, I have always preferred finding natural pinch points or funnels and using them if possible, but I don’t think it would bother the deer too much if you modify the trail. Trees fall in the woods all the time and the deer adapt.

I like to use bait in late July and August to get an idea of what this year’s bucks look like, as the racks are pretty well formed by then. As others have said, use longer delays and single pictures/shorter videos over bait or may end up with hundreds of pics of does, fawns and coons.

One other tip, when using a new camera that you're not familiar with, you might want to give it a few day trial run somewhere where it should see activity, that way you’ll know if it is working well before putting it out for good. I had one last year that was bad about shutting off after a day or two. It’s frustrating to pull a camera that’s been sitting in a great area for several weeks only to discover that it stopped taking pictures on day three!

From: White Falcon
06-Aug-20

White Falcon's embedded Photo
White Falcon's embedded Photo
Make sure camera isn't tilted up or down to far. I like to have it take my pic where I think game will be moving. Then I pull the sd card and read it on my cool-pix camera then make sure it is taking pics where I want it to. You don't want pics of just legs or over their head. I use two camera's, one hidden in between a couple logs. Mark your spot on a GPS or remember where you put it. NO FLAGGING TAPE. You might find someone else hunting your spot. I use Dollar General batteries, about $1.00 or $2.00 a pack of 2, 4, 6, 8, depending of size. I get 6 weeks to 2 months out of them. They work just as good on single pic settings on high def.

From: Smtn10PT
06-Aug-20
I set mine up to take 3 pics a minute on the lowest MP setting. Most cameras are going to last at least 6 months with these settings. I have some go almost a year. I usually get 500-1000 pics every two weeks.

From: DanaC
09-Aug-20
Some cameras automatically switch to black-and-white, lower resolution at night. Saves battery life. Use good name brand SD cards, as large as your camera takes. And format them IN the camera before use.

From: JL
09-Aug-20
^...I format my SD cards in my laptop after reviewing the vids and that works in my Moultries and Boly's. It "should" work for most other cams too. I carry a little plastic plano box that has lock keys, spare SD cards and batteries. When you run a few cams, that keeps things organized.

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