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3 Costly Mistakes to Avoid with Game and Trail Cameras

Game and trail cameras have revolutionized whitetail hunting over the past decade, but even with high-definition cameras sporting plenty of bells and whistles, there are mistakes many hunters make when using them to tilt the odds in their favor

3 Costly Mistakes to Avoid with Game and Trail Cameras
Over the years, game cameras have changed deer hunting strategies. Also known as trail cameras, these wildlife spies can significantly improve odds for success but only if used correctly. (Jeff Phillips photo)

In the past decade or so, the usage of game cameras - or trail cameras as some hunters call them - has definitely changed the deer hunting game.

What used to be educated guesses made from boots-on-the-ground scouting for deer sign or observing deer movement from afar is now a high-tech intelligence gathering mission for hunters using game cameras 24/7/365 to spy on the movement of deer in their local woods.

But for all of the big buck photos and intel that game camera reconnaissance can reveal, the temptation is there for hunters to make some key blunders when using their cameras.

So says Tom Rainey, the marketing man for Browning Trail Cameras, the Collierville, Tenn. based company that sponsors several Outdoor Channel television hunting shows including Whitetail Freaks with Don and Kandi Kisky.

Rainey is certainly a man that wants to see plenty of game camera sales yes, but he is also a passionate hunter who wants other deer hunters to have nothing but positive experiences with their game cameras.

According to Rainey, there are three critical mistakes that hunters need to avoid when using such cameras in the deer woods this fall:

Improper Scent Control - The first mistake to avoid according to Rainey is bad scent control measures when setting out cameras, when replacing batteries and checking SD cards.

"We have people routinely putting out minerals early in the year that walk straight over (to a nearby spot) and hang their camera," said Rainey. "Then they blame the camera when they get pictures of a deer walking up to the camera and staring at it."

Rainey says that "...there are still a lot of people out there that aren’t paying much attention to scent control around their cameras."

And he says that is a critical mistake to avoid no matter what kind of intel a hunter thinks a game camera might ultimately provide.

Tom Rainey
Browning Trail Camera marketing man Tom Rainey wants to sell plenty of game cameras. But one mistake many hunters make is not in the quality of the camera they purchase but instead in the quality of the batteries and SD cards that they use. (Lynn Burkhead photo)

Being Too Aggressive - In short, Rainey says the idea here is to not go too far into a deer hunting property as the season approaches or is ongoing.


"Don’t go too far," he said. "This happens a lot as well. Somebody has a stand along a trail they’ve cut out that’s about 100 yards off of an old logging road. Then they get to the stand and see a thicket two hills over and they march all of the way over there to set up a camera."

The problem with such an aggressive move?

"You might be bumping deer you’ll never see by straying so far off into your hunting area," said Rainey. "There are times where you can be too aggressive with your camera placement."

Not Being a Smart Shopper - The old adage of "You get what you pay for!" is often true when it comes to game cameras says Rainey.

But not necessarily in the way that some hunters might think in regards to more expensive cameras with plenty of features and options to explore.

Instead, Rainey says that many game cameras suffer from low quality supplies that make them do their thing in the woods.

"We see this problem all of the time," he said. "Hunters use poor quality batteries and poor quality SD cards. And that equals poor trail camera performance."

According to Rainey, a good analogy is "...if you think of your trail camera as a race car, you don’t want to put the parts from a used go kart in it."

Meaning what?

"Stay away from cheap low-quality batteries and SD cards and spend the time to find deals on high-quality batteries and SD cards," he said. "The improvement in the performance of your trail cameras will be noticeable."

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