Humanity is generally considered a part of nature by most people. Anyone who has walked down a trail can tell you, however, most animals make sure to stay as far away from us as possible. It makes one wonder what is happening when we are not around. With trail cameras, the question can now be answered.
A trail camera is not a thing of beauty by any means. This is a camera designed to perform a specific function and it does it well. The function is to sit in a remote area for a long period of time and take photographs of a set piece of land whenever it senses motion in that area. This effectively means the camera must function 24 hours a day whether it is hot and sunny, cold and rainy, or snowing. With such a purpose, it is little surprise trail cameras look like rugged, square boxes designed to survive a plane crash.
Trail cameras can be put up on poles or tripods, but most individuals simply lash them to trees facing the area they desire to keep an eye on. It contains a detection circuit that works by looking for motion and heat in the desired area. When both are present, the camera automatically takes a photograph and stores it. This process repeats each time an animal or object moves through the area in question.
Who would use a trail camera and for what purpose? Well, give some thought to who would want to monitor a trail. One obvious answer is a hunter. Trail cameras can provide an idea of what animals are in the area on a regular basis. This data helps the hunter decide whether setting up shop in the area is worth their time or not.
Scientists also frequently use trail cameras. Like hunters, they are interested in the type and number of game in a particular area. Since a trail camera triggers when an animal comes within its trigger zone, researchers can get a good feel for the nature of the biodiversity in the area.
Trail cameras are not designed to provide security functions per se, but more and more people are using them for this purpose. It can be very difficult to monitor large areas of land such as ranches. Trail cameras can be used to keep track of traffic on remote pathways, particularly when the land owner suspects someone is coming onto the property without authorization. If this is occurring, nothing acts as better evidence then a picture of the person walking down the path.
People often assume one trail camera is as good as the next due to their box shape. This is incorrect. Trail cameras have different characteristics. Understanding them can be the difference between purchasing a camera that fits your needs and one that does not.
The first thing to consider is the flash range of the camera. Remember, trail cameras work during the day and at night, dusk and dawn when light conditions are poor. This also happens to be the time when most animals are out feeding. Quality trail cameras have strong flashes covering large fields of vision. With a strong flash, you risk ending up with a bunch of dark images that really show nothing of consequence.
Trail cameras are set up in remote areas almost by definition. Hiking out to them ever so often can get old very quickly. Certain models come with a remote access option. This means you can simply upload the captured images from the camera to your phone, computer or other electronic gadget without needing to go out to the actual camera. This saves a ton of time and is more than worth the extra investment.
Battery life is another huge issue with trail cameras. You will spend a small fortune if you use disposable batteries with these cameras. A far better approach is to always use nickel-metal rechargeable batteries. They tend to last longer than other type of battery. The batteries are identified on packages as “Nimh” batteries.
When considering trail cameras, it is also important to give some thought to their intended use. If the trail camera is going to be used in high traffic, public areas, then it is wise to put an emphasis on camouflage so the camera isn’t shot up or stolen. This is less of a concern on private land unless security issues factor into the use of the device.
Trail cameras will not answer the eternal question of does a tree make a sound when it falls in the forest if nobody is around, but these cameras will at least give you a picture of the tree standing, falling and coming to rest on the ground. This is often just as good as capturing the sound.