The 10 Best Trail Cameras of 2019

 

As any avid hunter will tell you, scouting is the difference between success and failure.  It does you no good at all to hunt where there are no animals to hunt.  In the past, people knew their land and followed tracks and other sign left by the quarry.  Sure, you can still do that but it is time-consuming and in our very busy lives, it can be hard to find the time.  That’s where trail cameras come in.

You can’t be in the woods every moment of every day to know how deer are moving and where they are congregating but a trail camera can.  With today’s best trail cameras, getting a good inventory of the animals in your hunting area is a simple process that requires very little time and can be done with a very small investment.

So, if it’s time for you to get your cameras out in the field and you are looking for some advice, check out our trail camera reviews and don’t forget to consult the buyer’s guide below for some great tips on what to get!

Trail Camera Reviews

1. Browning Strike Force Trail Camera

Browning Strike force

There are few companies as well known in the world of outdoor sports as Browning.  They have a trusted reputation for hard use, dependable, and highly functional firearms and gear.  Their foray into the trail camera market has met with the same success and reputation as all of their other endeavors.  All of the Strike Force series of cameras are amazing quality and of the utmost reliability.

This easy to set up and program camera comes with up to an absolutely astounding 24-megapixel resolution and true 1080p resolution video for only the best images of every animal that happens to pass in front of it.  With a trigger time of just .15 seconds and a range of up to 80 feet for both flash and detection, you can be sure that you will get your shot and the near-invisible illumination will never spook your quarry.

Videos can be set from 5 seconds up to 2 minutes which makes counting your deer’s points a breeze and can lead to a lot of exciting footage.  The Strike Force even has an audio pickup to make a more well-rounded setup and provide that little extra flair to every file.  Not to worry that it will needlessly run down your batteries, power save mode makes sure you aren’t getting footage when you don’t want it and can even be used to moderate your flash and detection range.

With the utmost ease of use in mind, Browning’s cameras come with a 1.5-inch color view screen so you can see your pictures in the field and use highly available AA batteries as a power source.  It even comes with its own mounting bracket made of solid steel to keep your investment safe.

Featuring an anti-blur technology so all of your pictures come out crystal clear up to 120 feet away, you will never get a wasted shot.  And you can store a lot of them with support of up to 512mb of storage on a not included SD card.  It would be tough to beat the quality of the Browning Strike Force HD Pro and associated cameras for the price.  This is easily one of the best game cameras on the market.

2. SOVACAM Trail Camera

 

Sovacam-Trail-Camera-500x500

If you are looking for the best in features in what may be the best game camera for the money, look no further than the SOVACAM which promises and delivers some of the best dollar for dollar performance of any camera on the market today.  Couple with reliability, durability and a full one year warranty, this is a hard value to beat.

From the get-go, this high-resolution 16-megapixel camera with optional 1080p video will get you the best of shots you need and never spook a dear with its no glow IR flash.  Shot after shot, the outstanding 0.2-second trigger speed and 65-foot range through a wide 120-degree lens are sure to catch any animal that wanders in range.  Even with a low glow, the flash will light up the scene like daylight and every photo and video is sure to have maximum of detail.

With modes from video to burst mode, you can get whatever you want out of this camera and programming couldn’t be easier.  Initial setup is as simple as mounting the unit and flipping a switch and its ready to go.  That is after you put in the 8 AA batteries it uses for a power source.  No fear it will run those down needlessly though with its automatic sleep mode when there is nothing around.

Even if you max out the resolution on video with included audio recording, the included 32gb video card has plenty of capacity to keep this camera going for a while.  That’s good because, with IP56 water and dust proof rating, it will run practically forever.  For additional security, the camera is also password protected so no one can tamper with it.

Easily one of the most well-rounded cameras on the market, the SOVACAM is one of the fastest and most dependable cameras on the market today.  You will be up and running in no time as the setup is effortless and quick.  All settings, pictures, and videos are available to view on the included screen so you never have to take the camera down until its time to move it.  This is a very capable camera that would make any user happy.

3. Meidase Trail Camera

Meidase Trail Camera

No matter the habitat or the quarry, we all want the best possible pictures and with the Meidase Trail Camera you can get up to 16-megapixel images or full 1080p video with sound that are ultra-clear and make your digital scouting all the more useful.  Combine that with up to 65 feet of no glow IR illumination and even night can’t hinder you.

Nothing can escape this unit with its wide-angle 120-degree trigger that is effective out to 80+ feet and can snap a picture in less than two-tenths of a second.  No matter how fast that deer runs by, you are going to catch him and he will never know since there is no visible IR flash

You get all of that in an easy to use unit with simple function and a familiar keypad layout much like our home remote controls.  The UI is plain and simple to navigate, making cycling through features quick and easy.  This same 2.4-inch screen can be used to view any of the images stored on the standard SD card.  No matter if you want to playback videos, manage your files, or use the shortcuts to change the unit setup, it is effortless and intuitive.

Not only does this unit do pictures and video but can do a combination of both for the best of both worlds.  You get a much higher resolution out of the images but movement in the video makes discerning some details much easier.  It has a time-lapse mode for setup near feeders and stamps each image with the temperature, date, time, and moon phase for easy identification.  And all of your data is password protected so no one tampers with it.

With up to 6 months of continuous runtime on 8 AA batteries and full IP66 dust, impact, and water resistance, nothing is going to stop the Mediase Trail Camera.  Easy setup and convenient programming, including a timer for setting sleep and active periods, you can be running this camera the day you get it.  Covered by a full year warranty should something go wrong, this is a sure bet for quality and a price that won’t break the bank.

4. TKKOK Trail Camera

Tkkok Trail Camera

If you are on a tight budget, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a superb quality camera, you just need to be smart and get one worth your money.  Durability and longevity are primary considerations to avoid undue replacement costs and the full one year warranty helps.  This makes the waterproof, dustproof, and impact resistant TKKOK a wise investment that will keep ticking away, season after season.

But just because its cheap and rugged doesn’t mean if you don’t get quality images.  With up to 12 megapixel photos and 1080p videos, you won’t be hurting for fine details and clear footage.  Each trigger will give you a burst of three photos and a 10-second video to make identification easy and can do this up to 50 feet away without the animal ever realize anything happened.

Even in total darkness, the IR burst catches fine detail with superb contrast and clarity anywhere within the 120-degree arc of the wide angle lens.  With less than a one second trigger time, even moving animals will fall within the shot without issue and all of those fine images will be stored on the onboard SD card for easy retrieval.

Powering the camera is easy with only 4 AA batteries that are complemented by the extremely low power consumption when the unit is in standby mode, meaning you won’t have to make trips out every other day to replace them.  Or you can power this unit externally with any 5v DC power source, including a solar panel for long-term use without the need for constant care.

You will need to provide your own 32gb SD card and batteries but otherwise, this unit is ready to go out of the box with a tree strap and preprogrammed settings to make the most of what it can do.  It even comes with an SD card reader but unfortunately, it does not have a view screen.  There are limits to what you can get on a tight budget.

5. BYbrutek Trail Camera

Bybrutek Trail Camera

When it comes to catching the animals that pass by, few cameras are as good as the Bybrutek, especially for the price.  With a trigger time that is less than a fifth of a second and a total of three PIR sensors that can catch anything up to 80 feet away in a 120-degree arc, everything that passes by is going to end up on film.  You can even set it to burst mode so you get three back to back images to make sure your camera catches everything you want.

And not just on any film but on either full 1080p HD video with sound or up to 16-megapixel images that are clear and high contrast for easy viewing.  At 80 feet away, details pop in the full-color day images or the brightly lit nighttime images.  Even in pitch black, you get quality images and still won’t alert nearby game animals with the low-glow IR flash.

All you need is an SD card and 4 AA batteries to get going since the mounting hardware is included, even a wall mount if you wanted to use this for home surveillance.  You can even up this to 8 AA batteries which can power it for up to a year with the right settings.  If that isn’t enough for you, go with any external 6v DC power supply including solar for the maximum run time.

Easy to use and program with a familiar button layout and high vis 2.4 inch LCD screen, you can select from a variety of modes including burst and time-lapse.  Even managing your files is easy.  View, play and manage any video or image on the camera with ease and get rid of those you don’t want without taking anything out of the field.  Maximize the use of that 32gb SD card!

All of this would be for naught if it weren’t durable.  Well, it is durable enough that the company that makes it offers a full 18-month warranty and lifetime support should you have issues.  Its IP56 rated for resistance to shock, water, and dust for even the harshest conditions and can run forever with a minimum of maintenance.

6. BlazeVideo Trail Camera 2-Pack

BlazeVideo

Every proficient hunter will tell you that one camera is never enough no matter how little area you need to cover, so why not start with two and get it over with.  That is if the cameras are of a decent quality to being with.  Maybe something like a 16 megapixel with an optional 1080p video that is sure to get you quality images you can use.  Maybe something like these BlazeVideo cameras!

In addition to the amazing quality video and images, which can be taken in burst or time lapse, this amazingly designed camera has a 65 degree detection out to 65 feet so it captures everything that passes by and can snap a picture in just over half a second and as fast as a fifth of a second if set up accordingly.  These cameras miss nothing!

Each camera is password protected and serialized for added security and are fully waterproof and dustproof.  They can function as low as -4 degrees for the coldest environments but work better when it’s a little warmer.  On just their 8aa batteries these cameras can function for up to half a year and will auto power down when nothing is going on.  You can leave these in the field for months with no ill effect.

All settings, images, and videos are easy to change and view on the onboard 2.4-inch high contrast LCD screen.  Menu operations are simple and pre-set quick start modes are available to get you in the field in no time.  Just strap them up with the included mounting hardware and you are ready to go.  Any time, any weather, any temperature.

When you want to get out in the field and make sure you cover every inch you can, this package deal is hard to beat.  Two cameras, full mounting hardware, a USB cable for ease of use, and a fully detailed manual are included, just add an SD card and a power supply, either AA or an external 6v DC and you are ready to record.  No sense in wasting time or money, these are a solid bet for those with small areas to cover or even for home security purposes.

7. RAINBOWDAY Trail Camera

Rainbowday

If you are looking for action cameras that capture the best 1080p with sound as well as amazingly clear 16mp images, the Rainbowday camera is a great choice.  All of your video and images will turn out clear and crisp no matter the time of day thanks to the ultra-powerful IR LEDs that still manage to be low-glow enough not to startle any nearby critters but reach a whopping 60+ feet.

Speaking of IR, with its powerful blast of IR light and three independent PIR sensors, you can be sure that night or day, you will never miss a shot.  Even running animals will get caught with its 120-degree arc and a trigger speed of 0.2 seconds.  You just can’t escape this thing, no matter how fast you are.  If you need to catch deer on the move or even those quick, smaller animals you can depend on the Rainbowday camera.

Not content to be just a good camera, this camera is built like a tank and is fully waterproof shock resistant, and all but immune to dust.  This is just a part of its amazing versatility that expands to every part of this camera.  Including its ability to shoot in intervals, time-lapse, and burst modes.  All of this using its state of the art passive infrared sensor that makes this great for wildlife or home security.

With password protection, time stamping, and a low power alarm, this is a full-featured unit but is easy to setup and use.  The LCD screen, easy to use button configuration, and simple UI make settings easy to change and reviewing any content on the 32gb SD card a simple and straightforward process.  Whenever and wherever you want to use this camera it is ready to go and easy to do.

All mounting hardware is included but you will need to provide your own SD card and batteries, but with the right settings, you can get upwards of 8 months of use on a single visit to the woods.  Of course, you may want to check back a little more often than that to make sure you aren’t missing anything important.  Maybe bigfoot but more likely just the usual deer but that’s likely what you are after anyway.

8. TOGUARD Trail Camera

Toguard Trail Camera

If you are looking for a camera that’s easy on the wallet but big on power and among the fastest cameras on the market, maybe this is where you should be looking.  With a trigger time of less than a third of a second and a range of 75 feet anywhere in a 120-degree arc of the camera, you are going to catch every animal coming and going without fail.

When I say catch, what I mean is get a superb 14-megapixel image or even 1080 FHD video that is plenty clear enough to count the points or do whatever else you need to do to identify what you need to.  Day or night, no problem.  Sure, there are cameras that are far better in the image quality department but they usually cost twice what this camera does.  It’s all about value!

A part of that value is providing a camera that is durable and rugged that will stick it out in the field for months without fail.  Like running for months off 8 AA batteries.  But that would be useless if it didn’t have state of the art waterproofing and resistance to the everyday shocks, dust, temperatures, and moisture that all of our gear needs to stand up to.

Setup is easy, actually its so easy that you don’t even have to do it at all.  This camera comes set with ideal setting for most applications so you can mount it and go.  There are no modes to deal with or extra settings that need to be messed around with.  It’s a set it and forget it camera.  Not in that, you would forget it in the field though, you should probably check it every now and then.

Yes, this is a pretty basic setup but that makes it a very effective setup as well.  With the addition of some batteries and a mini-SD card up to 32gb, you are ready to go.  That is the beauty of the TOGUARD camera system.  Everything works well even without the complexity of most camera systems.  If you aren’t the most tech savvy person, this is your camera!

9. Campark Trail Camera

Campark trail camera

When you start talking budget cameras, what you often end up with are cameras that lack features.  Sometimes that’s ok but sometimes you need a little more out of your gear.  That makes the Campark a very attractive product.  With everything from superb quality to die-hard toughness, this is a feature rich camera with a wide array of perks for the high-end camera user.

Of course, you have to have good images and video or what’s the point, like 14-megapixel high contrast images and full 1080p video for a start.  That’s day or night with the low glow IR LEDs with up to 65 feet in a range which compliments the 120 degrees PIR sensors very well to make sure nothing escapes from this camera.  If it’s out there, this is the camera to find it and with a third of a second trigger speed, you are sure to catch it if it passes anywhere near.

This is one of the most sensitive cameras around with its three total sensors but sensitive doesn’t mean fragile.  This is a shockproof, waterproof, and dustproof camera that is made of the field.  Sure, you can use it for home security but it would be just as good strapped to a tree in the middle of the woods.  Either way, you aren’t going to have to worry about something breaking.

As a matter of fact, this is a camera that functions well in just about any role with its very versatile settings accessed through the same LCD screen you use to review your images.  Once you have it set to your preferences, a process that takes just a few minutes, it’s ready to head to the woods or the farmyard, wherever you happen to need it at the moment.

All you need to add is some batteries and an SD card.  Mounting hardware is included with the camera.  It’s just about as easy as it gets.  And as for worry-free, should something ever happen to your camera, it has 24-hour customer service and a full year warranty so you know you are taken care of.  There may be better cameras out there but not so many as you would think.

10. Victure Game Camera

Victure Trail Game Camera

Most trail cameras have very long range and sometimes that is just not needed.  Occasionally you just need an affordable camera for placement on your property, near a feeder, or maybe on a deer trail.  It doesn’t have to take a photo a hundred feet away if it can get amazing quality up close. Something like 12mp worth of image quality and 1080p video.  That should be enough quality.

I don’t want it to sound like this only takes pictures a few feet away.  The sensors are capable of reaching out a little better than 35 feet which is often enough and they trigger in just under half a second which will catch almost any passing animal.  The sensor is set up in a 90-degree arc which covers a lot of ground and avoids any of the distortions that sometimes happens with super wide angle lenses.  Even with less range than most, this camera does a solid job at catching whatever is out there.

Not content to just be a decent camera, the Victure had to be a durable camera as well.  Fully IP66 rated to resist dirt, dust, and moisture as well as significant protection against shock, this is a tough as nails unit that can last in the field for seasons making it perfect for long-term monitoring projects where you don’t want to spend a fortune on cameras, to begin with.

All images and videos are stamped with time and date for easy review and image capture can be set to work on time lapse, burst or single image modes.  Equally, the video can do intervals, time-lapse, or even function on a timer.  All of this information is easily reviewed via the LCD screen and setting can be changed quickly and easily using the simple UI.

Add some batteries, a quality SD card and get this camera out in the woods.  Mounting hardware is included so you are ready to go pretty much out of the box.  For a budget camera, you can’t ask for much more performance and probably nowhere near this level of durability.  The Victure is a solid camera for any of your trail cam needs.

Buyers’ Guide

There are a large number of factors to consider in the trail camera market meaning you can perfectly tune your cameras to your specific needs and situation.  Becoming an informed consumer will prevent you from getting a camera that does not adequately serve your need or getting one that does more than what you need.  Either situation is a waste of money.

Resolution

Probably the most important factor for most people is the quality of the media you can get from it.  This can be in Megapixels for images and if you have a game camera with video, it will usually be in resolution but may just state HD.

So what resolution is enough?  What is too much?  Well, a 10mp image can be printed at poster size and without pixelating but when you are trying to count the points on a buck that may be partially hidden behind branches, it may not be enough.  I do think that 10mp is a good starting point and that somewhere around 14-16mp is optimal.

You can get cameras into the upper 20-megapixel range but that may be more than what you require.  There is a limited amount of storage space on a card if you aren’t one to diligently check your cameras you may run out of space quickly.  This is especially true if you use your camera in a wildlife dense area.

For video, the standard is 1080p which is more than adequate for most uses.  There are a few that still use 720p and seem to work fine for most people.  A few rare cameras do use true 4k resolution which is probably overkill, especially if you don’t have a massive amount of storage on your device.

Be reasonable and don’t fall for gimmicks but otherwise, opt for the best resolution you can.  There will be times you want more but it is unlikely you will ever regret the ability to have higher res photos.

Modes

All trail cameras take photos and with today’s technology, even a cheap trail camera will take amazing quality photos.  It’s everything else that the camera can do that makes it an attractive purchase.  A picture may be worth a thousand words but sometimes it’s just not enough to make out the points on a deer or elk.

Many trail cameras are capable of a burst mode that takes a number of pictures in quick succession.  This allows you to get a number of angles on the same animal and may even help get photos of animals that are moving very quickly.  This is not a vital mode but can be quite handy, especially with cameras that have a longer view distance.

Burst mode should not be confused with a time-lapse mode which is a somewhat uncommon but available feature on some higher quality game cameras.  Time-lapse takes a photo at preset intervals regardless of whether or not the camera was triggered.  While this is a marginally useful feature, it can be a nice addition for areas around feeders or along very well traveled trails.  If nothing else, it can provide a backdrop to compare triggered photos from.

Video is a commonly available option, even on a budget trail camera.  Usually, it’s restricted to a very short duration of somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds.  It serves much the same purpose as a burst mode but will provide an easier to analyze format.  Video has been a game changer on trail cameras, allowing you to see movement in real time.  This can be a very important feature should you use trail cameras for home security and need to be able to positively ID a person.

Range

The range of your camera can be three separate things so use caution when researching to make sure you are getting the right range.  The first way that range can be used is in representing how far away the lens on the camera will allow the taking of a quality image.  Using range this way is a little bit of a misrepresentation usually found as a selling point on a cheap game camera.

The more important range to consider is the trigger range.  This is the range in which a camera will take a photo and more is generally better.  To improve your chances of catching fast moving animals or just to be sure you are covering enough of the game trail you have a posted your camera on, adequate range is all important.  You consider a minimum of 50 feet as appropriate for a game camera.

The final range is the Flash Range or IR Range.  Two terms for the same thing, this is the range in which you will have night vision capability with your camera.  At a minimum you want this to be the same as your trigger range but having it a bit farther can be quite nice.  That way you get shots of any deer that may be behind the one that triggered it.

Be mindful of your trigger and IR range, those should be some of the most important factors you consider when purchasing a trail camera.

Trigger Speed

Just like when you take a photo with your phone or a digital camera, there is a pause between when the camera is triggered and when the photo or video is actually taken.  This is the trigger speed and is a very important consideration when purchasing a game camera.  Make sure you know your trigger speed and match it up with where you set your camera.

On the faster end, some high-end cameras are capable of trigger speeds of less than 1/10th of a second where some cheap trail cameras may have up to 1 second trigger times.  While that may seem fast, either way, a second is plenty of time to miss a shot if a deer is moving quickly across the camera.

You can use a 1 second trigger time camera effectively but you have to place it in a way that you have time to get a shot.  Point straight down a trail is a good choice for these slower cameras as well as places where deer may feed and linger longer.  With some thought to your hunting land, you may be able to come up with a few other locations that would be effective.  Of course, your range will be important in considering these places as well.

The absolute best combination to ensure you get a good shot is a very fast trigger speed of less than half a second with a long trigger range and burst mode.  These are cameras that you can use pretty much anywhere and still have a good chance of getting a shot.  Of course, this is a more expensive camera.

A second speed is worth noting here and that is reset speed.  This is the time it takes between shots and can be an important factor to consider.  Once you have a shot, how long until you want another one?  If you set your camera on a deer highway or need a feeder, you can fill up a card in a night if you just get shot after shot.

On the reverse side of that, if your camera has a slow reset, you may miss deer following the one that triggered the first shot.  Like range, knowing your reset speed will help you decide the best place to locate your camera.  Slower reset speeds near feeders or other places that deer will pause and faster reset speeds near trails or areas where deer will move faster.

Storage

Some few trail cameras do come with onboard storage but this isn’t the optimal way of storing data on your camera.  You are far better off to have some form of removable storage that you can swap out without having to take down the whole camera and take it home with you.

By far, the most common method of storage is the SD or micro SD card which has adequate storage and is quite affordable.  Each camera will have its own max supported size of SD card which you should be aware of before you purchase either the camera or SD cards.  You can get SD cards upwards of 128gb but most trail cameras will not support a card that size.

The most common supported size is a 32gb SD card and is sufficient for most cameras that will be checked on a somewhat regular basis.  Determining how long it will take to fill one of these cards is trial and error.  Some locations during some seasons it may be a week where others could be several months.  If you are scouting, you are going to want to check your camera on a weekly basis anyway.

Make sure you get a few extra cards.  I like to seal one in a watertight plastic baggy and tape it inside the camera housing just in case I forget to bring a spare with me.  Some cameras will come with a single card but I prefer to have at least two for every camera but prefer to have several additional cards for backup.  This helps for those times you forget or should you damage a card.

Infrared Illumination

There are a few things to note about the infrared system on trail cameras that allow them to be used in pitch dark.  This is the light that the camera uses to function so it is a vital consideration when it comes to getting a new camera.  We covered range above so we don’t need to go over it again here as long as you realize it is an issue with IR systems and that the IR range should be at least the same as your trigger range and preferably farther.

After range, the next consideration is brightness.  Some cameras have higher wattage bulbs or just more bulbs that create an overall brighter image.  This is very important for discerning details that may be farther away from the camera or mixed in with nearby vegetation.  Black and white does not give you the best perception of depth so the brighter you can make it, the better.

After brightness, you have to look at how detectable the flash of IR light is.  This can range from a standard brightness on less costly units all the way up to nearly invisible on high-end units.  Deer see in a slightly different spectrum than we do so IR can alarm them.  Not to mention that some actually have an audible sound when the IR triggers.

Should you get a trail camera that does trigger and alert deer, they will quickly learn to avoid where the camera is placed.  That ruins all the work you put into scouting and finding your location, to begin with.

For a preference, you should consider a unit with a range exceeding 60 feet at a minimum that triggers fast and takes a bright picture that doesn’t alert the deer.  This may sound like a tough combination but even a low-cost trail camera should be able to provide these options.

More on how IR works for those curious folks can be found here.

Power Source

The most common method of powering a camera will always be batteries.  This is an effective way to power modern cameras that have slowly become more efficient.  Having a camera that will run for a long time on a single set of batteries is very beneficial.  The less time you spend around your camera, the less disruption you will cause to local wildlife.

AA batteries are probably the single most common battery type to use and do an adequate job of powering your camera.  The duration could be better but batteries are cost effective for the time you get out of them.  Some may use AAA batteries which are about the same on cost and runtime.

A few cameras still use the old D cell batteries which run longer but are more difficult to find and cost a good deal more.  The same with cameras that use a 6v battery which is costly but will run for a very long time without replacing.

When it comes to batteries, the AA is preferable but be watchful for cameras that can be powered by solar.  These are fairly common and a great way of getting a long run time without spending a fortune.  Some cameras will come with the solar charger while some will require you to purchase it as a separate unit.

There are generic solar units available that are usually 5v or 6v.  Just make sure your camera supports those voltages before you make your purchases.  Installation is general but for all the information you need and more check out this link.

Display

An option that is growing in popularity is the ability to display your photos and video footage on the camera itself.  Usually reserved for higher-end cameras but slowly finding its way into some value trail cameras, this can be a very useful feature to have.

The first thing this allows a hunter to do is check the camera in the field while hunting to see if deer have recently passed by or have been in the area.   For evening hunters, this is a killer option.  If deer left along the trail that morning, it is likely they will travel back that way during the evening as they leave their bedding sites.  If you use a lot of cameras this can put you deer the first day of the season without fail.

The second and most obvious benefit of having a display screen is to be able to clear unwanted photos in the field without having to dismantle the camera or switch out SD cards.  If there aren’t any pictures worth noting, you can clear the card and move the camera to a different location without having to go back to a computer to view the files then go back into the field to move the camera.

Just don’t get stuck looking at your photos on the camera and let the deer get away.

Wireless Connectivity

Usually reserved for the most costly game cameras on the market, there are a few different wireless technologies that are used to make scouting a lot more convenient.  This innovative technology can allow you to see deer from your phone or even get text alerts when your camera triggers.

The shortest range method of wireless transfer is Bluetooth.  While this is a minor feature in the game camera market, it can be helpful.  Rather than having a screen in the camera, your Bluetooth enabled device can pick up the encrypted data and let you view your pictures right on your phone.  This is a very short range option but occasionally comes in handy.

The second method is WIFI which has somewhat more range but still lacks the ability to send images to your phone or home computer without you going into the field to get the SD card unless you happen to have WIFI close enough for your camera to access it.  Unlikely you will so you will have to be close enough to your camera for this feature to work.  Maybe not the best for hunting but can work great if you use trail cameras for surveillance or security.

The final method and by far the best is cellular.  As long as your hunting area has cell signal, you can get a data plan that costs just a few dollars a month and have instant access to all of the images your camera takes.  Most of these will send straight to your phone or email and can provide alerts when the camera triggers.  Some models will allow you to log into the camera and change settings and get a live view.  This is quite an expensive option, especially if you use multiple cameras, but many hunters find it worth the expense.

Wireless cameras are still a fledgling technology that will most likely see a lot of innovation and a drastic reduction in price over the next few years.  This is the direction trail cameras are progressing and will probably dominate the marketplace in the next few years.

Included Data

An often overlooked feature on trail cameras is what other data it tracks when it takes a photo or video.  Some of the cheapest game cameras may only track the date or time the picture was taken if they do that at all.  This minimum amount of data is highly useful.  Not only do you know when the deer are in the area of your camera but you can do a little searching on the internet and find out the weather, moon phase, and temperature which can all affect the movement of deer.

Some higher-end cameras will track some of that information for you including moon phase and temperature along with the time and date.  This makes looking for trends in deer movement a much simpler task.  Think of it as the high tech way of doing what our ancestors did for every hunt.  This is a great way to learn how and when deer move and become an overall better hunter.

Weatherproofing

This is a vital aspect of selecting a trail camera and one that can be more complicated than it first seems.  A value game camera should have some weather protection but it may not be enough to keep the camera functional in the worst conditions.

At a minimum, your camera should be able to resist rain, dew, and frost and not just on the internal electrical components but also on the optical components of the camera.  Generally, deer move in the early morning the most and that is the time you are most likely to have issues with water on your camera.  Getting one designed to deal with this issue should be among your most important considerations.

A second factor to think on is the temperature range that you will need the camera to function in.  You know your temperature range better than anyone, keep that in mind when picking your camera to be sure it functions for you.  Given, this will not be a massive consideration for most people as they will never experience temperatures lower than most cameras will function but if live in a place known for its ruthless temperatures, you want to be prepared.

Also, be aware of things like dust protection which is a killer of all outdoor electronics.  In fact, just keep in mind that you are putting something outdoors that is susceptible to malfunction in those conditions.  You want it to be as tough and rugged as you can possibly manage.  Fortunately, most cameras are built with this in mind, finding one that will work for you shouldn’t be difficult.

If you want a more thorough explanation of how these work and what the differences are, check out this article.

Other Considerations

User interface and programming can be a pain if it hasn’t been properly planned out at the factory.  Unfortunately, this isn’t something that is usually advertised on the box and even if it is, it’s highly subjective.  Consult the reviews of any product you are interested in to see what other users are saying about its programmability and ease of use.

Password protection and Serial number imprinting are important security features that can prevent someone from tampering with your camera.  If you hunt public lands or properties that are shared use, this can be a big consideration.  An upgraded version of this on some very high-end models is GPS tracking should your unit be stolen.

Adjustable flash can be useful for areas where you don’t need a full power IR burst to get a quality picture.  This saves battery power in areas where pictures will be taken at close range such as around a feeder.  A similar setting is sleep mode which powers down the unit during some period of the day to prevent you from taking pictures you don’t want and needlessly wasting space and power.

Mounting Hardware is a vital component for your game camera but may or may not be included in your purchase.  Generally, mounting hardware isn’t costly but knowing if you need to make a separate purchase up front is useful.  An upgraded version of the mounting hardware is a lockable case which can protect your device and keep it from being stolen.  Most cameras do not come with lockable cases but may have them available.

A warranty is a great thing to have on any outdoor gear.  Many big name companies provide you with some form of warranty but budget devices may not offer any buyer protection at all.  Always opt for a device with a warranty if you have the option, usually, the price difference is minimal and the value can be huge!

Conclusion

Where trail cameras were once very expensive items, many models available today are cheap enough that anyone can afford to use them.  Whether you need one or a dozen, the cameras above should more than meet the needs of any frugal hunter.  The price has made it very convenient to monitor trails, feeders or even to use game cameras for security.  Whatever your need, deer season is right around the corner and there is no better time to buy than now!

Besides, there is a lot of enjoyment in a trail camera and seeing what goes on outdoors when we aren’t around. Every time you pull data from your camera it will be a little like Christmas with the excitement of the unknown lurking in that little package.  Hopefully, yours will be more like the holidays of our youth and less like those we get now where socks are the main feature.

Of course, you could check out some of these crazy things caught on camera until you get your own.

 

 

 

 

 

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