Are Your Trail Cams Hidden Enough? An Easy Review

How hidden your trail cameras are, can make or break your entire season, let alone a great trail cam location. After the season is over it's time to review your 10s of thousands of photos and look for one glaring clue: The number of deer that stare at your camera. If you capture more than a handful of deer that notice a particular trail cam setup, then changes have to be made. Do your trail cams pass the stare test? Mine do, or I honestly wouldn't even use them. There is a trail cam stare ratio that you should be considering and if your trail cams don't command a passing grade, then there are several easy fixes to make sure that they do!

Poor trail cam setups can kill your whitetail dreams before the season even begins. The fewer the number of deer that stare at your trail cams, the greater the number of daylight pictures the you will most likely capture on your land. Only the lands that feature consistent daytime movement, have the ability to attract, hold, protect, mold and create a quality herd. If your trail cam setups don't pass the hidden trail cam review, then you will most likely find that your ability to attain your whitetail dreams, is extremely low.

The greatest test for if your trail cams are hidden enough, is if deer consistently stare at them or not. For the majority of trail cam setups, a ratio of 1 stare for every 100 photos is OK, but your efforts really need to focus on the age of the whitetail, and not necessarily the overall ratio or percentage of staring deer. My personal tolerance level is that zero mature bucks ever notice a trail cam location and overall, that only 1 deer in every few hundred pictures actually stare at a particular trail cam setup.

Folks, mature does are not the same as mature bucks. Mature does are herd creatures, that think and act like a giant ship in the ocean. It takes a lot to change the daily patterns of a doe family group, and trail cams often have very little effect on the group-thinking actions of does, fawns and their offspring. However, mature bucks are independent thinking, reclusive beasts that I have witnessed over and over again, become even more independent and solitary the older they grow. While an old doe can give you the appearance that everything is OK when it comes to your food plot use, hunting access, ATV reliance or your trail cam setups, that does not mean that everything is even close to being "OK". Instead, when it comes to accurately assessing your true impact of just how hidden your trail cams are, or any other habitat or hunting practice, it helps to zero in on exactly how the oldest bucks in the neighborhood react. The number of daytime mature buck pictures on your land throughout the course of the entire season vs. nocturnal pics, is a direct reflection of how your hunting and habitat strategies are doing. Often, poor trail cam setups can be one of the main causes of nocturnal bucks.

If your trail cams glow red with IR bulbs or make any kind of noise, then they won't stay hidden for long. The best way to make sure that your trail cams are being seen, is to compare a deer's reaction to your setup during the light vs. during the dark. Glowing IR bulbs will alert deer during the night but not during the day, and noisy cameras will alert deer 24/7. After making sure that you are using a non-invasive trail cam to begin with, here are 5 ways to make sure they stay hidden from the wary eyes of a reclusive old monarch:

1. Hang your trail cams at least 6' high
2. Use a side limb to break up the trail cams profile
3. Use a tree diameter wider than your trail cam
4. Make sure of great background cover
5. Drop brush in front and below your trail cam to keep deer away

Using rubber gloves and cover scent is not necessary for trail cam access, if you make sure that you are using the above 5 strategies to effectively hide your trail cameras.

Have you ever heard the expression, "trail cams don't spook deer, people do". Well, that may be partially true, but that statement can significantly reduce your level of whitetail success because it doesn't respect the ability of a trail camera itself, to spook deer. If your trail cam setup is at eye level for deer, is wider than the tree it is on, can easily be profiled and approached by whitetails and is not effectively hidden with adequate background cover, than you can count on your trail camera to spook a mature buck nearly every single time. However, you are in luck when it comes to making sure that you don't spook deer with your trail cams, because both knowing if you are spooking deer with your trail cams and fixing the problem, can be easily addressed!

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