Trail cams are very useful tools that can greatly increase your knowledge about the patterns of the game living in your hunting area. Trail cams not only capture images during the day but can also capture the events of the game in the area at night as well. This can serve as a great scouting and research tool to choose the prime hunting spots in that area. So how do you choose the right trail cam for your needs? In this article we will give you the basics of a trail cam so that you can have the knowledge about trail cams you will need to purchase the best trail cam for you.
Trail Cam Detection Circuits
The detection circuit of the trail cam is basically the mechanism that detects the movement or heat of the animal. Trail cams with better quality detection circuits are able to detect and produce more pictures of animals while trail cams with lesser quality detection circuits can miss a lot of animal heat signatures and movement especially if the movement is faster. Detection circuits will usually consist of :
Trigger Time - The trigger time of a trail cam is the time it takes for the cam to snap a picture of the animal once it has detected it within its detection zone. Usually but not always a quicker trigger time indicates a higher quality trail cam. It’s important to note that not everybody will need a fast trigger time for their camera, bowhunters who are looking to place the trail cam at a location where animals congregate for an extended period of time such as a feeding pile wouldn’t needs as quick of a trigger time as a bowhunter who wanted to monitor a game trail where speeds will a factor.
Detection Zone – Simply put the detection zone of a trail cam is the area in which the trail cam is monitoring with its sensors. As soon as an object like an animal crosses the detection zone line a picture is taken. There are 2 main factors that determine the basic detection zone of a camera and those are detection width and detection range.
Detection Range – The detection range of a trail cam is the maximum distance the camera can detect movement or heat. The max distance depending on the trail cam’s quality usually ranges from about 30′ to 100′. If you are looking for a trail cam to survey a larger area such as a bait area or an open clearing then you would need a trail cam with a greater detection range and width.
Recovery Time - The recovery time of a trail cam is basically the time that it takes the camera to snap a picture, store that picture to its memory and then re-group and get ready for its next shot. Recovery time again usually depends on the quality of the trail cam and can range from 30 – 60 seconds inbetween shots all the way to virtually instantaneou (1/2 second) .
Detection Width - The detection zone of a trail cam is expressed as a degree and can range from 5 degrees all the way up to 90 degrees.
Trail Cam Picture Quality
A lot of bowhunters make the mistake of choosing a trail cam with a high mega-pixel rating thinking that it will produce better quality pictures. This is not always true, trail cam companies will offer cameras with a great mega-pixel value but a poor quality camera lens which will translate into poor quality pictures regardless of how many mega-pixels it boasts. The only way to really tell how good the quality of the pictures are is to look at some reviews or ask for demo pictures from that specific trail cam to see how the clear and crisp the pictures are.
Another detail you have to look for in the picture quality section is whether or not the trail cam uses an incandescent flash or an infrared flash. An incandescent flash is like a normal light that you would find in your house, this can give colored pictures at night however; can spook game as it displays a sudden bright flash of light in the darkness. Having a trail cam with an IR(infrared) flash will deliver black and white pictures at night but will most often not spook and scare away the game you’re hunting.
Finally when dealing with picture quality we also have to look at the flash range which is the distance at which the light can reach to produce a decent recognizable picture of the object being monitored at night. Some models have a flash range of about 10-15′ which is for use in very close small areas all the way to 80′+ which is used for wider open areas.
Trail Cam Battery Life
Battery life can vary greatly with each model of trail cam, this is an important aspect to look at as the wrong decision can end up costing you a small fortune in battery replacment. It is recommended that you choose a trail cam that has a higher end battery life and that you use rechargeable batteries as this will save you a ton of money in the long run.
Trail Cam Security Options
Many times you will be setting up a trail cam in areas where other people will be travelling besides yourself. Unfortunately there are a lot of dishonest people who like to take other peoples stuff and so we strongly recommend that if you will be placeing your trail cam in a public location to get yourself a trail cam security box which you can use to secure your trail cam in.
Choosing a trail cam can be a bit overwhelming at first but armed with this information and the resource links below we are confident that you will be able to accurately choose and purchase the trail cam that is right for you.
Trail Cam Resource Links