Trail cameras are immensely useful tools for hunters. Unfortunately, many users are not satisfied with their performance.

I have utilized a list of 17 trail camera tips and tricks that will help you better picture and enhance your chances of scoring a major buck.

Let's get going then:

1. Choose the right trail camera:

Select trail camera

If you are still looking out for the trail camera, make sure you take this advice seriously.

Before making a purchase think about objectives and a primary place where you want to place the camera.

If you plan to have a serious hunting season, make sure you invest in the camera with time-lapse mode.

Also, you don't want to draw a lot of attention to your camera. Avoid using a flashlight and infrared light since this will, for sure, provoke already irritated animals.

There are many options available on the market nowadays.

They all have their weaknesses and strengths but make sure the camera you picked is a perfect fit for your needs.

2. Don't skip manufacturer's instructions:

user manual

We are all guilty of this. Yes, all cameras operate the same way.

But be aware that every model has its unique recommendations and functions that need some knowledge.

That is why you should first read the manual and then do the fine-tuning according to your previous experiences.

Imagine how much stress and hours you will save if you spare no more than 20 minutes to consult with the words that come straight from the manufacturer.

3. Use the right batteries:

cellular trail camera battery

If you want your trail camera to function correctly, you must provide the right type of batteries. Yes, it is as simple as that.

You can opt between lithium, Alkaline, as well as internal rechargeable batteries.

Don't forget that some high-end products run on solar panels and external batteries too.

If you want to get the most out of your trail camera, make sure you choose the kind of battery that the manufacturer recommends.

If your camera should run on a lithium battery, yet you choose the cheaper Alkaline battery, your camera will still run fine.

But be ready for significant differences in overall performance. Also, maintain the batteries fresh.

4. Update camera firmware:

update icon

One of the most overlooked aspects of getting the most from your camera is updating the firmware.

We are all aware of how our smartphones, tablets, or laptops periodically need to be upgraded, but we forget that our cameras need that.

With time small glitches in your camera become noticed by the manufacturer. Then they put out a free firmware upgrade.

This might sound complicated to you, but just follow the manufacturer's guidelines, and you can't go wrong.

This is a simple procedure that will get you the most performance from your investment.

5. Adjust the PIR sensor:


Most cameras nowadays feature an adjustable passive infrared sensor (PIR).

This sensor measures the amount of infrared light that emits from objects that get in the viewing range.

When a warm body, such as an animal walks within the detection zone, it triggers the sensor.

In fact, the PIR system consists of two parts –  and

  • The measuring of infrared
  • The object's actual motion

When you adjust the sensor's sensitivity, you will have more control over the levels of IR radiation that object must emit before activating the motion detection.

This will prevent false triggers of leaves moving when the wind blows.

6. Upgrade to black flash:

no glow infrared flash


Black flash or a.k.a. no-glow technology. White flashes on cameras use a pulsing light that can frighten and blind your prey.

On the other hand, infrared cameras use a red light to enlighten the target at night.

But the black flash camera uses a low glow or no-glow infrared flash, which is very hard to detect.

This does not make the camera undetectable since all cameras are a bit noisy, but it makes a significant change for sure.

7. Pick the right SD card and format it:

sd card

When picking the SD card, follow the manufacturer's recommendations always. Most available models can handle at least 32GB cards.

The problem occurs when people overlook the speed of the card.

Each card has a rating circled on the front, which presents the GB amount your device can transfer to card per second.

Usually, the speed is between 4 and 10.

To maintain the speed, storage capacity, and reduce risk of storage errors, make sure you format each SD card to a specific trail camera you use.

Formatting is an easy and quick process that allows you to interchange SD cards between cameras you use.

8. Animal and theft protection:

locked trail camera

Animals are curious around trail cameras.

The best way to prevent animals from damaging them is to use silent cameras with no-glow technology.

Also, make sure you eliminate as much scent from the camera as possible.

Besides that, not only animals have sticky fingers when it comes to trail cameras. Unfortunately, they tend to be stolen quite often.

There are a few simple tricks you can use to make sure no one steals it.

  • Use silent and no-glow technology models to hide them well.
  • Hung them above eye-level to make sure it is not easy to notice it.
  • Lastly, the most effective way to secure your trail camera is lock cables and lockboxes.

9. Eliminate your scent:

scent killer


Like I mentioned, it is crucial to eliminate the scent since animals have an incredible sense of smell.

That smell might scare them off or make them damage your camera.

Use scent removing wipes to keep your human odor off of your camera.

When the time comes to check up on your camera, make sure you do it before the rainstorm since the rain will wash down your smell.

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10. Positioning your camera:

There are many tips when mounting the camera, but I will mention two of the most important.

a) Never mount the camera facing East or West:

Never mount the camera facing East or West:

When the sun rises and sets, the rays can cause false triggers and overexposure to the pictures your camera is taking.

b) Never place your camera too high or too low:

Never place your camera too high or too low

Set up your camera a bit higher than the above eye range since the flash can scare the deer.

They are well conscious of the camera's existence, whether by the sound it makes, the human smell, or the flash.

Mount it at arm's length up and then angle the camera downward and avoid any chance that the deer will locate your camera's position.

11. Angle camera to the trail:

Angle camera to the trail:

Create a much larger window for your motion sensors to trigger and capture better images by angling the camera to the trail.

The animal will be walking into the sensor's area directly so you will have a much better chance of getting the best full-body picture.

This is not recommended when you want to monitor fake scrape or feeding sources.

12. Know your ranges well:

Know your ranges well

It is crucial to know the detection and flash ranges of your camera.

If your camera's effective detection is at 40 feet, there is no point in setting it 60 feet from the game trail.

Also, consider the effect that the current flash range might have on your photo quality. This considers night time pictures.

  • If you own a camera with a strong flash, the distance can be a great asset or a major problem to your camera.
  • If you place it too close to the target, it will create too much light and produce an overexposed picture.

13. Make bedding areas near feeding grounds:

bedding area

If you are aware of the location where deer usually come around to feast at night, it is only natural to use this advantage as much as possible.

Sometimes they are walking from distant to come for a feast.

This is why you should create a bedding area close to the food source and encourage them to stay there.

There is no guarantee that this method will succeed every time, but you should still try it and enhance the chances of enticing one closer.

14. Always avoid beaten paths:

Always avoid beaten paths

A grown deer requires food rich in protein and minerals to sustain muscle density and antler growth.

That is why they will always look for food in more distant areas where the human scent is not present as much.

Make scouting trips and find those areas.

Also, tread lightly to avoid leaving any trail and leave a camera to monitor the area for a week or two.

15. Make a fake scrape:

buck scrape


Make a fake scrape near the food source to draw more deer's. All you have to do is grab a shovel and a rake, and find a tree with leafy growth.

  • It is crucial to find the tree that has branches at approximately 7 feet beyond the ground.
  • Use a rake to remove the dirt for about 5 to 7 feet away from the tree's base.
  • Then take deer urine and splash the area to draw them in
  • Make a few scrape sites and aim your cameras at the licking branch area to find the scrape site that is the most active.

16. Make enough space between fake scrapes and fresh rubs:

Make enough space

When you create fresh rubs and fake scrapes, make sure you do not place the trail camera too close to them.

Believe me, deer will identify them and evade the scrape.

The best is to put your camera at least 75 feet from the scrape on one of the routes that lead to it.

This will help you determine from which way the deer's travels and give you an advantage when the time comes to shoot the deer down.

17. Use a combo of time-lapse and trail modes:

time lapse

This will help you to discover the deer movement over a broad area.

  • The first thing to do is place your time-lapse trail camera to cover fields and food plots where you know deer are often gathered.
  • Set the time-lapse to take pictures every 10-20 seconds over the first and last few daylight hours and improve your chances.

This will also prolong the battery life to weeks rather than days.

Be patient and leave the time-lapse for a few weeks to determine the exact routes the deer are using.

Then set up a regular trial camera to prey on specific deer you are interested in.

In The End:

People often are not aware of how smart animals are. They will locate your device in no time if you do not plan the placing spot thoroughly.

To make sure animals won't bust your camera setup, you need to take all the possible precautions.

No matter if you are an amateur or advanced hunter learning new trail camera tips and tricks can only increase your chances of hitting the prey.

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Robert Gate, a hunter from Texas and Founder of ArcheryTopic.

I first learned archery from my dad when I was 12 years old. He gave me a Mathew bow as a gift and instantly fell in love with the pursuit.