July 26, 2021
Early model digital trail cameras were just hitting the market when I was 12, Wisconsin's then-minimum hunting age. Their trigger speeds were molasses slow. I eventually got one that took five seconds to trigger a photo following motion detection. I didn’t even bother setting it over deer trails.
In time, trigger speeds and image resolutions improved while prices came down. Consumer demand steadily increased and eventually the retail market became flooded with high-quality options.
More recently, trail-cam manufacturers began integrating wireless technology into their products. Two years ago I decided to take the plunge and see whether these "remote-scouting" capabilities were all they were cracked up to be. I acquired three Cuddeback wireless cameras and used them during my first-ever Iowa deer hunt.
Simply put, the technology and convenience were astounding! I had to put my phone into airplane mode at bedtime. Otherwise, it would keep me awake as pictures came in. In short order, I was addicted.
Although cellular trail cams aren’t a magic bullet for killing bucks, bulls and bears, there’s no doubt that when used in tandem with a solid overall hunting strategy, the information they provide will help you make better decisions.
With that, let's look at this year’s crop of top cell cams.
Whether you're trying to peg a big whitetail’s tendencies or monitor personal property 24/7, do it in high definition with Browning’s Ridgeline ($219.99; browningtrailcameras.com) from the Defender Wireless series. The Ridgeline captures 20 MP still images and 1920x1080 high-definition videos complete with audio. Most notable, though, is the Ridgeline's Dual Carrier Technology: an integrated chipset enables either AT&T or Verizon activation. That’s right, simply select whichever carrier provides the best 4G LTE coverage at your chosen camera location. Further, there are no contracts. Just pay on a month-by-month basis, activating and deactivating as needed. Battery life is astounding, as 16 AA batteries (not included) power the camera. Its top-tier, invisible IR flash keeps the camera discreet to wildlife and trespassers. Receive images and video via text or e-mail, and manage and organize the camera's data via the Strike Force Wireless app.
Wireless Plan Summary: Five monthly plans ranging from Scout ($9.99/1,200 images) to Guide Pro ($49.99/12,000 images). Most plans allow multiple cameras to share the subscription. For example, the Hunter plan ($19.99/3,000 images) includes up to three cameras, and additional cameras beyond the included the number can be added to any plan for an additional $5 per month per camera. Most plans also include an allotment of high-definition image and/or video uploads.
With features such as 30 MP image resolution, .2-second trigger speed and high-output IR LEDs with a 100-foot range, the CelluCORE ($249; bushnell.com) A30 (AT&T) and V30 (Verizon) provide outstanding battery life and connect with a Bushnell mobile app for complete viewing and organizing. Plus, you can change settings through the app, too. Users get 30 days of free data transmission following camera purchase, and after that you can enjoy no-contract usability starting at only $10 per month. The CelluCORE is easy to set up, runs on 12 AA batteries and comes with a two-year limited warranty.
Wireless Plan Summary: Four monthly plans range from Economy ($9.99/1,500 images) to Elite ($59.99/15,000 images). High-resolution images can also be downloaded on pay-per-image basis ($.99) or by adding a monthly HD download pack to any subscription.
The new Covert WC-30 ($169.99; covertscoutingcameras.com) offers tremendous value, giving users a blazing .2-second trigger speed, far-reaching 100-foot flash range and impeccable detail and clarity with 30 MP resolution all at a price well below $200. Not only that, but WC-30 camera units can share a wireless plan rather than requiring individual plans for each unit. Covert's Web Portal and Wireless app provide a user-friendly interface from which users can receive, view and manage data. Two models are available: the A model is for AT&T LTE coverage, while the V model connects to Verizon's LTE network. Wireless plans are affordable and contract-free. Twelve AA batteries prolong battery life to reduce the frequency of visits to the camera location. All images and videos are stamped with time, date, temperature and moon phase so you can easily monitor your target buck's tendencies from afar.
Wireless Plan Summary: Six monthly plans range from $4.99 (100 images) to $19.99 (unlimited images). Multiple cameras can share data, and additional cameras can be added to a chosen plan for $5 per month per camera. Discounted rates are offered for pre-paid quarterly and annual plans.
Cuddeback CuddeLink G Cell
Cuddeback's new-and-improved CuddeLink G Cell ($199.99; cuddeback.com) operates on four D batteries. When paired with an external power source such as the Solar Power Bank, the batteries serve as back-up power. The camera's daily report received via text and/or e-mail also lets you know which power source the camera is using so you don't miss any images. Most impressive is proven CuddeLink Technology, a ground-based mesh network that allows up to 24 cameras to link to one cellular camera, thereby using only one wireless plan to to upload images from every camera. Further, the G Cell incorporates Power House IR Flash with a 100-foot range. Add in .25-second trigger speed and Cuddeback's proven track record of reliability and performance, and you have a hunt-winning combination.
Wireless Plan Summary: Three monthly CuddeLink plan options are $15 (750 images), $20 (2,000 images) and $40 (unlimited images). All plans accommodate up to 24 cameras linked to a single cellular camera. Plans allow additional data to be added each month in $5 increments, and discounted rates are available for pre-paid annual service.
Moultrie's Delta ($99.99; moultriefeeders.com) sets a new standard for performance and affordability. Your choice of AT&T and Verizon models ensures reliable network coverage. Meanwhile, the Delta has 50 percent greater battery life than previous Moultrie models, along with an external antenna to optimize reception. An on-board GPS helps you locate lost or stolen cameras with a device-locating service inside the Moultrie Mobile app. The Delta can transmit images and videos (with audio), and over-the-air firmware updates mean you don’t have to pull the camera from the field to keep software current. A two-year warranty and USA-based customer service are also nice features. Subscription plans include free cloud storage, species recognition with Smart Tags and interactive maps.
Wireless Plan Summary: Four monthly plan options range from $4.99 (100 images) to $16.99 (unlimited images). Moultrie also offers a multi-camera unlimited plan for hunters scouting large properties or several areas. Users pay $34.99 per month for the first camera, and then they can place additional cameras on the plan for $7.99 per month each. Discounted rates are offered to those who pre-pay for a year of wireless service, and more data can be added monthly at a rate of $4.99 per 500 images and $1 per 50 videos.
If you want detailed images, the 26 MP Muddy Merge ($149.99; gomuddy.com) will deliver! The Merge harnesses the Stealth Cam Command Pro app to offer the convenience of a modernized user interface and software. Data transmission happens via your choice of carrier: AT&T, Verizon or global carrier options. Budget-friendly data plans begin at $4 monthly. A quick-scan QR code provides market-leading set-up speed and convenience. Nighttime images are lit by an inconspicuous IR flash in black and white, but the Command Pro app lets you unlock night-color AI, which brings color to otherwise black-and-white night images. A .4-second trigger speed optimizes subject framing for better images.
Wireless Plan Summary: Monthly plan options are $5 (600 images), $10 (2,000 images) and $15 (unlimited images). There's also a $50 Bundle Pro plan that offers unlimited images on up to three cameras, with additional cameras added for $5 each. Discounted pricing is available for pre-paid annual plans, and users can also add Elite Hunter features for $5 per month (included are two years of cloud image storage, camera security monitoring to prevent unauthorized use and automatic image tagging of bucks, does, hogs and turkeys).
Reconyx HyperFire 2
Made in the USA, the cellular-enabled Reconyx HyperFire 2 ($599.99; reconyx.com) optimizes your wireless scouting experience with connectivity to the leading networks, AT&T and Verizon. There are no long-term contracts, and plans begin at $5 monthly. Manage camera settings, check camera status and create custom data plans remotely via Reconyx's user-friendly mobile app. A full five-year warranty instills peace of mind. Other standout features are .2-second trigger speed, GEN3 No-Glow HO Infrared illumination with a 150-foot range and a 5,000-image battery life. Theft deterrence and included BuckView Software are the finishing touches.
Wireless Plan Summary: Cellular access is $5 per month, per camera, and includes 200 images, remote camera management and cloud image storage. Additional images can be uploaded at a cost of $5 per 2,000 images, and you can set a monthly data cap to limit your cost. For an additional $5 per month, per camera, you can also add Real-Time Remote Access through the Reconyx Connect app, allowing you to take live photos on demand, use live streaming to your phone to aim the camera during setup, check camera status and settings in real time, and fetch high-resolution images instantly.
Industry-leading live-streaming capability and data plans from a wide variety of cellular carriers make Spartan's GoLive ($499.95; spartancamera.com) an incredible option for serious hunters and property managers. View live-stream data almost instantly. The camera is available in Realtree EDGE, Mossy Oak Break-Up Country and Spartan's own Areus camouflage. The GoLive functions as a conventional cell camera when the live-stream feature is off. Backlit buttons provide easy reference, and a GPS location feature functions even when the camera isn't equipped with batteries or is shut off. The user-friendly Spartan Camera Management app simplifies and optimizes the user experience. Further, a quick-start wizard speeds camera setup, and a one-year warranty (get an additional year after you register the camera with Spartan) backs your investment.
Wireless Plan Summary: Prices vary among the many carrier options offered by Spartan. For the two most popular options, AT&T and Verizon, monthly data plans range from $15.99 for 500 MB to $32.99 for 2 GB. Discounted rates and larger data bundles are available for quarterly and annual data plans.
Spypoint's Link-S-Dark ($499.99; spypoint.com) is unlike other cameras because it has many features unique to Spypoint. Say goodbye to battery purchases -- the Link-S-Dark has an integrated solar panel and lithium battery combined into one compact, streamlined unit, with no additional wires or other tree attachments needed. An incredible .07-second trigger speed redefines fast, and you can customize flash settings with Hybrid Illumination Technology. Join the Spypoint Insiders Club to access exclusive plan and product discounts, plus partake in advanced scouting tools, content and giveaways. Add to that four camera modes and a 100-foot motion detection range, and you're getting a powerhouse scouting camera that will bolster your hunting strategy. LTE coverage provides reliable image transmission, and the camera is fully configurable with Spypoint's mobile app.
Wireless Plan Summary: Monthly plans include Free (100 images), Basic ($5/250 images), Standard ($10/1,000 images) and Premium ($15/unlimited images). Discounts are available to those who pay up front for a full year and members of the Spypoint Insiders Club.
Stealth Cam Reactor
Available in two versions: one for AT&T and one for Verizon. Stealth Cam's Reactor ($199.99; stealthcam.com) is packed with exciting features. Jump on the Stealth Cam Command mobile app to download images on demand, adjust data-transmission schedules, delete unwanted images and videos from the SD card, and control all camera settings and functions remotely. Image resolution can be set to one of four sizes: 26 MP, 16 MP, 8 MP and 4 MP. It operates on eight AA batteries, although it has an external power jack for Stealth Cam's SOL-PAK solar battery, sold separately. Other notable features are an integrated Python lock latch, burst mode, Quick Scan QR code setup, 100-foot motion detection and IR flash range, and full 1080 P high-definition video.
Wireless Plan Summary: Monthly plan options are $5 (600 images), $10 (2,000 images) and $20 (unlimited images). There's also a $50 Bundle Pro plan that offers unlimited images from up to three cameras, with additional cameras added for $5 each. Discounted pricing is available for pre-paid annual plans, and users can also add Elite Hunter features for $5 per month (included are two years of cloud image storage, camera security monitoring to prevent unauthorized use, and automatic image tagging of bucks, does, hogs and turkeys).
Tactacam Reveal X
With last year's Reveal, Tactacam set out to solve common concerns the hunting community raised with cellular scouting cameras, namely quality, affordability and setup difficulty. That effort continues in 2021 with the Reveal X ($139.99, revealcellcam.com). Tactacam included many features from the original Reveal while adding a host of technological advancements hunters will love. Integrated WiFi in the camera lets you connect to your phone and use the USA-developed mobile app to simplify setup and provide live viewing to help make sure your camera is aimed perfectly before you leave the field. You can choose between AT&T or Verizon 4G LTE networks, and no contracts are required; simply activate the camera when you want to use it. Connect to a solar panel to amplify battery life, and should you encounter a problem, simply rely on in-house customer service experts to guide you. The Reveal X detects subjects more than 96 feet away. Finally, the unit is IP66 waterproof certified to withstand months of weather exposure.
Wireless Plan Summary: Three monthly options are $5 (250 images, add more cameras for $5 per month), $8 (500 images, add cameras for $7.50 per month) or $13 (unlimited images, add cameras for $12 per month). Discounted pricing is available for pre-paid annual plans.
Wildgame Innovations Encounter
Think scouting with a cellular camera is for the wealthy? Think again! Launch into wireless-camera technology affordably without sacrificing performance with the Wildgame Innovations Encounter ($119.99; wildgameinnovations.com) that is compatible with all U.S. and Canadian cellular networks. Configure camera settings in a snap with seamless QR-code setup, and take advantage of the latest HuntSmart features, including species recognition and advanced filtering. There is no contract to worry about, and better still, a promotion running through March 31, 2022, provides three months of free wireless service with every Encounter purchased. Other highlights include 20 MP image resolution and a 60-foot flash range via 36 high-intensity, invisible IR LEDs. The Wildgame HuntSmart app lets you monitor camera specs, including battery life, cell signal and data plan.
Wireless Plan Summary: Three monthly options include $5 (250 images), $10 (1,250 images) and $15 (unlimited images). Discounted pricing is available for pre-paid annual plans.