Trail cam tips

Have you ever wondered, “What made that track?” Or, “What the buck or bull looked like that rubbed that tree?”

Most of us who hunt have. To help answer these questions, about 10 years ago, I purchased my first trail camera. It was fairly crude — basically a point and shoot camera stuffed inside a box with a laser that would fire the camera when an object moved in front of it.

There were plenty of trials with that unit, including an entire roll of film shot of a small tree blowing in the wind. But there also were some great lucky shots of elk, deer, bear and more — including a photo of a nice five-point bull that enticed me to hunt

a certain area opening day of 2004 and harvest him. Luck played a huge part, but I never would have known he was there otherwise.

Technology now has changed things somewhat. These cameras now enable us to check photos by swapping a card or plugging a remote monitor into the unit. It’s a great resource to help you keep an eye on areas before, during and after hunting season. Many days during the season, I’ll find myself slithering from camera setup to camera setup, taking stock of what has been there or what hasn’t. If there are few or no photos, you probably can move on without wondering, “What if?”

Dozens of manufacturers now produce these cameras, and making a choice can be difficult. Popular brands include Bushnell, Cuddeback, Leaf River and Primos, with price ranging from $79 to more than $500. I’ve had great luck with the Primos Truthcam 35. At $119, it’s inexpensive, easy to use and takes a great photo. And at this price point, it’s not the end of the world if a bear gets annoyed and decides to make it a chew toy, which has happened.

No matter how high-tech you get, trail cameras are fantastic scouting tools that can make your search for a trophy all the more easier.