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Spy Camera Scenario: Using a trail camera to record deer
My home is in a beautiful but remote wooded area in Scotland. After recently installing CCTV for home security, we have discovered that Deer are visiting our property far more often than we realised, and we would love to capture some shots of them at night. They’ve made some fleeting appearances on our CCTV, but it’s really not designed for that, so we have been looking into using a trail camera. Would these be the best way of unobtrusively getting pictures of them? Is there anything I should bear in mind when setting them up to record?
Solution – Using a Trail Camera
You are absolutely correct in suggesting that hunting cameras are the way to go! These small cameras are entirely powered by batteries, and can sit on standby mode waiting to record for weeks at a time. This makes them ideal for leaving out in remote areas without access to power, where they can discreetly monitor animals such as deer in their natural habitat. The cameras have a built in Passive Infra-Red (PIR) detector, allowing them to pick up the changes in ambient temperature caused by the body heat of a passing animal. This is then used to trigger the camera. These cameras are simple to set up, but there are quite a few things to bear in mind when installing them that can greatly improve the results you get:
- Look for signs of activity. Scraped bark on low hanging branches, and gouged ruts in the ground are both sure signs of use from deer, and a good bet for a location to mount the camera. Deer also often follow trails or pathways through the woods, so look for these signs of use along these.
- Point it North. Orienting the camera North means it should avoid having the sun shine directly into the lens at dawn or dusk, which not only causes false triggers from the detectors, but also causes harsh back-lighting that ruins the image.
- Mount the camera just above head height. Different mounting heights are recommended for different animals. A low camera, for example, is ideal for recording badgers. For deer, mounting the camera higher will not only help prevent false triggers, but keep the camera more discreet from your easily spooked subjects.
- Use a large tree. The easiest way to secure the camera is to a tree using the included nylon strapping. When doing this, it’s important to attach it to a larger tree trunk, as smaller ones will tend to sway in the wind, setting off the camera’s motion trigger. This is especially the case when used in Scotland’s summer weather!
- Clear the area in front of the camera. Whilst it’s tempting to obscure the camera from view with leaves or branches, it’s important the IR illuminator is kept clear. If not, any foliage in front of the lens will be lit up brightly, and make the rest of the image far too dark to see.
- Accessorise! Whilst the hunting camera is a fantastic standalone device, we also have a couple of additional accessories that can help make your set up more successful. If you are concerned about theft, the locking metal box allows you to use a bike secure the device, and stop the settings being changed. Our Solar charger meanwhile, features a rechargeable lithium battery powered by a built-in solar panel. This allows the camera to be left on standby for up to a year!