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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Jensen Beach, FL & Fircrest, WA

    Default Let's talk trail/game cameras

    This last elk season I found an area in the backcounry that is highly concentrated with bulls, I wasn't able to connect with one but I had eyes on three wall hangers and found myself standing in a bull group "den" of sorts that looks to have been used for years.

    With that said, I live across the country from this spot but am able to get out there through out the year. I am looking for trail camera ideas that are up to the task of being on station for several months at a time. I have ZERO experience with these gadgets, hence my inquiry. I may have an opportunity to hike out to this area in the next month or so to place a camera.

    I am open to suggestions of actual cameras or comments related to the efficacy of following features in the list below. Clearly, some of these features will significantly increase the cost, I am just getting ideas at this point, I do have a budget but need to gather the big picture first.

    Some of the features I'd like:

    1. High Resolution (the area I am targeting is dense timber, thus the better the resolution, the better the photos in low light)
    2. High photo storage capacity (the better the resolution, the lower the storage capacity, right?)
    3. Solar powered/charged
    4. Water Proof (I can't imagine one not being water proof)
    5. Location/Date/Time Stamp
    6. Satellite transmission of photos - I'm sure this isn't a cheap feature, but just curious - cell service is not an option in this area.
    7. Black Flash
    8. Quiet
    9. What features have I not asked about that I should know about?

    Thanks in advance...looking forward to the learning curve!

  2. #2


    I will be following this thread. I have never owned, used or hardly even seen a trail camera outside of a store, but I have been thinking of buying a bundle of them and backpacking them into the high mountains and leaving them for a mont-6 weeks on saddles, water sources etc. I think it would be awesome to get pictures of grizzlies, wolves, sheep, goats, hopefully a wolverine etc.
    I guess long battery life would be most important for that use.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Bend, Orygun


    Features you need:

    1) cheap, so when it gets stolen you won't be too upset.

    I buy Bushnell knock offs for $80.

  4. #4


    I've been using Covert cameras for my texting duty. I use regular Reconyx cameras, as well. The Coverts aren't near the camera the Reconyx is. If the Reconyx texting cameras weren't so expensive, I'd use those.
    83% of all statistics are made up.

  5. #5


    This site has some good reviews and their service is outstanding. A security box is never a bad idea. In addition to thieves, bears really like to test the integrity of game cam installations. I've had good luck with Browning cameras. Lithium batteries and 16GB or larger card will get you all the pics you want for 3 months at a time.

    I've had one thieved out of a steel box. Blackout LED's are a huge benefit, in that thieves may not see the camera if they pass by it and it's hidden well.

  6. #6


    I've been using trail cams for years. Most of mine are Bushnell Trophy Cams which come in different resolutions. They are not top end but they are priced right. No matter what brand you get I would run it in your yard to test before deploying clear across the country. I had one brand new cam that took 5,000 pictures of nothing all in a row and killed the batteries the first time I set it up. Bushnell replaced it of course but had I went to the trouble you are talking I would have been upset.

    Most modern cams will run at least 6-12 months on batteries so to me solar power would not be a priority. Most cams will take 8 GB cards or bigger which will hold thousands of pictures, I'm guessing around 8,000 on 8GB off the top of my head. Generally the size of the SD card is the limiting factor on capacity. Most cams take good daytime pics but I've not owned a black flash cam that takes sharp nighttime pics. I have a HCO Scoutguard that used a flash that takes good night pics. My old Cuddebacks w/flash took great night pics but they never lasted very long.

    I would stick to Bushnell or lower quality to keep the price down like WapitiBob says so if they disappear it's not too upsetting. That said I've never lost a cam in 8 plus years I've been running them by being careful about how I set them up. The best way I've found to set up a trail cam is to use some screw in tree steps and get the camera up out of harms way pointing downward. I've had many people walk under them and never seen anyone look up at them as long as the cam is above normal line of sight. It is also very helpful keeping elk from tearing them off the trees. Bears are hard on cams but elk are the worst. No matter how silent a cam is elk ALWAYS find them and do their best to relocate them. I've found several on the ground that I initially though were stolen but they were covered in elk slobber. If you can tuck the cam under a limb pointing down it helps keep the rain off them which here on the coast will extend their life. They normally run for years but eventually the wet environment kills them.

    My buddy who lives in Nevada set up a Bushnell here by my house at the end of archery season to try and get a pic of a Roosevelt Bull he hunted long and hard. He came back for Spring bear and was really excited to see what pics he got only to find he left the cam in setup mode instead of ON. I did the same thing once....came back to check the cam and the tree it was on had become a fresh bull rub. I was really excited to see the bull until I realized that in my haste I forgot to turn it on. Take a few seconds to make sure cam is turned on when you walk away.....

  7. #7


    Bushnell Trophy at night...

    During daylight...

  8. #8


    Pointing down on an elk wallow.

  9. #9


    Cuddeback w/ flash. 355" Roosevelt based on shed score that year. He died of natural causes 4 years later.....the drawback to trail cams is they can cause a person to get fixated on a particular animal. I lost a lot of sleep trying to figure out how to kill this bull for a few years...

  10. #10

    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Hulburt View Post
    . I lost a lot of sleep trying to figure out how to kill this bull for a few years...

    What a problem to have

  11. Default

    I've had good luck running the Bushnell Trophy Cams. Batteries have lasted for 3-4 months no problem, never left any out longer before checking. I always make sure to put in the largest sized SD card the camera will take in case a branch gets knocked down in front of the camera.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    southwest Idaho


    I am also very interested in this question and plan to buy one or two new cameras this year.

    Outdoor Life ran an article with test results last August. . Be sure to read the "how we test" section near the bottom. Related video at

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Wise River, MT


    The Moultrie 880i cameras seem to perform best for me so far. They are 3-4 years old. I also run 2 different models of Wildgame Innovations and a Bushnell. The Moultrie cams seem to keep the batteries for over a year long, even thru the negative temperatures. (8) AA batteries would last even longer if I used lithiums instead of alkaline. 8GB SD camera chips will take over 9000 pictures with high resolution on the Moultries and the Wildgame Innovations cameras. No flash detection on the cams as well. Moultrie cams show the temp, the others do not.
    Have had no theft issues on public land, but a friend had one stolen last summer from nearby. I usually run 2 cams on my ranch, and the other four are on surrounding USFS lands.
    Attached Images Attached Images       
    "The Rocky Mountains is the marrow of the world" Del Gue

  14. #14


    I think most of the features in question have negligible differences between any cameras.

    2: You are correct that the higher resolution of picture takes up more space but the storage capacity of a camera is dependent on the size of SD card used. A few can accept usb storage devices but most still use SD cards. Some of the older cams were limited to 2gb but i think anything now will take a least 8gb which is thousands of pictures.

    3: Trail cams now have unbelievable battery life. A cam I put out this year in July has lost 12% battery over 6 months and taken 10,000 pics and maybe 500 videos. Having said that, white flash and video will run batteries down quicker, but I wouldn't worry about putting a solar panel up.

    4: Water proofing isn't really a concern, but I have had insect problems. In my area, ants love batteries so how the battery compartment closes does end up being fairly important. As a side note, im no longer allowed to open cams in the house.

    5: Most cams now-a-days allow you to imput a location into the data stamp and have date and time. Some also have temperature, barometric pressure, and/or moon phase. Really just a personal preference.

    6: Im not real familiar with cams that send pictures as that crosses my personal line of too much technology (thats a topic for another thread) but my understanding is that they do need cell service and only send a low res pic but store a high res pic. I suppose in a private area with tresspasser trouble they could be useful but they are expensive and you also have to purchase a data plan from a phone provider.

    8: As far as being quiet, I think all digital trail cams are about the same, but the old 35 mm cams could be heard from quite a ways off.

    I think there are really only two features that separate trail cameras photo quality and flash type.

    1: Photo quality is where you get what you pay for. I find there are three classes of trail cams; low quality <$90 this includes all wildgame innovations, all moultries, bushnell, new cuddeback, ect. Then there are the mid-range quality $100-$220 includes old cuddebacks, browning, covert, ect. and High quality >$250 and is made up mainly of reconyx. I can't afford the high-end but if you look at samples, you can see why they cost more. For what I do, the low quality cams just don't cut it. I do have a few but I have to use them as prospecting cams to see if an area is worth putting a good cam up. I just cant trust them to give me reliable data on what a specific deer is doing. As an example, this year I have two ten-pointers that look very similar. One is about 2 inches wider, the other has g1s that pitch slightly inward and has a right g4 about 2 inches longer. If I used a cam that didn't give good pictures, I wouldn't be able to tell them apart. Some people might not think that is a big deal but that is the difference between knowing one beds to the north and comes through every 6-8 days, and knowing that the other comes from the south every 1-2 days.

    7: Flash type is probably the most debated feature. There are white flash, Infrared, and Black Flash and the only difference if wavelength of the light emitted. I haven't used any black flash so I can't speak on those. Personally I would rather have the best pics I can so I like white flash but there are much fewer available than there used to be. Some people will claim that white flash will scare animals but I think that has much more to do with the animal than the light. I have had deer get there picture once and then never go by that camera again, but others that don't mind the flash and will stand there getting their picture taken over and over. I think the same holds true for the ir cams because I can see the IR flash on cheap cams so I know the deer can.

    Everything comes down to what you want out of the camera. If you need details about specific animals, stay away from the low-end. If you just want to see that there is game in the area, you can spend less and get a couple cams. Figure out what you want (including budget) and match a cam to that. Don't ask a cam to do something it can't do, you will be disappointed.
    "You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity." - Eddie Rickenbacker, WWI fighter pilot

    "Never mistake hope for a plan." Herman Edwards

  15. #15


    I've tried many of the economical ones and found Covert 6MP to be the best. Simple, reliable, and takes good photos.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Mtn. Home, ID


    I'll be paying close attention to this thread as well. He unit I want to put some time into for this coming September is a good 4-5 hours away from me. Cameras being stolen was/is a big fear of mine as well.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Gilbert, Arizona


    AZ has very liberal trail cam laws, and rumor has it, they are about to change. that being said, i have run 5-10 cameras at a time for 10-12 years now. there are a few things that i look for when buying new trail cameras.

    You do not need to spend any more than maybe $100 dollars. year old models work just fine and can be picked up for half of current models

    i will not buy a camera without the external photo counter. too many times i have walked away from my camera only to learn it wasn't taking photos. with the external digital display, i just walk around in front of it until the picture count goes up and i know it is taking pics

    i will only buy a camera that runs on 8 AA batteries. Battery life is MUCH better than with C or D batteries

    Trigger speeds are NEVER what is advertised. place a camera in a spot where the animal will stop (water/salt/etc.). if you put the camera on a game trail, make sure it is pointed with the trail rather than perpendicular. making an obstacle that the animal will stop to look at works well.

    You want a pretty big flash. i buy the one with more LED's. flashes never work as far as advertised and i have found no difference in cameras that are advertised to have a huge flash range or a decent flash range.

    In my experience, i only get 2-4 years of use out of a camera before it is taken out of commission. the first time they fail, i am done with them.

    the best thing i have found to prevent theft is to hang the camera 10' or so off the ground. bring in some tree pegs to get it up there and pull them out when you are done. people never seem to look up. also, your pictures will be better and it virtually eliminates false triggers due to sun rise/set, shadows, blowing grass/limbs/twigs, etc.

    i feel like i could probably write a novel on trail cam use do to my own experiences with them. this all being said, i have been having the best success with mid tier stealth cams and browning cameras.
    Last edited by AZBridger; 01-03-2017 at 12:29 PM.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Western Montana


    I'm with Wapiti. Don't spend a ridiculous amount. Critters and/or people could delete a lot of money quickly.

    Batteries will last an entire summer on most cameras. Nearly all cameras take pictures at night, are waterproof, have a data/time/temp stamp,and are quiet. Storage is dependent on the size of the card you put in your camera. I put cameras up at the end of bear season and grab them before archery starts. Batteries and SD cards still have plenty of life left after 3 months.(Unless I accidentally set the sensitivity to high, then I get 5000 pictures of grass blowing in the wind)

    These were from a Simmons Whitetail camera (70$)

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    These were from a Primos Truth 35 ($50)

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    "To all those who work come moments of beauty unseen by the rest of the world." - Norman Maclean

  19. Default

    I will 2nd on the Browning trail cameras. Had very good luck with them and they have an extra battery compartment that you can buy and plug in to have extended battery life. Also check out Spartan cameras. Love mine. Been wanting to try their go-cams

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Bitterroot Valley Montana


    I use only wildgame innovations.
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    Even at early morning the pics come out good. The light is strange at that time. Its when most of the other cameras I used took poor pictures.
    Last edited by macnshana; 01-17-2017 at 12:04 PM.

  21. Default

    I bought a Bushnell Aggressor camera a couple months ago. One feature I wanted, was the companion solar unit that also has a lithium battery in it. So, I can use the camera with the solar panel or not. Bushnell also recommends using AA lithium batteries in the camera, and while they cost a lot more, they seem to last and last. I really like the microphone too. I had the camera mounted on fence post on an Elk trail in January, and everytime an Elk jumped the fence, they hit the tip wire and made a loud twang noise. Funny... I set this camera on "hybrid" mode, so it takes a still photo, and then immediately follows up with a video that you can adjust the length of on your preference.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Mtn. Home, ID


    I'm glad those Truth Cam 35 photos are still up. I think I'm going to try out a couple of them and learn the ropes of trail cams and scouting.


  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2014


    If I was running cameras from across the country, I'd get two lower priced units to put in the same general area. That way you have a much higher chance of getting at least a few pics.
    A co-worker asked some of his younger friends why they had so many different brands of camera. They said they just take what they find in the woods and aren't picky about brand.

  24. Default

    I don't know what those thing's cost but some people get really nice photo's from them. What I don't get is hanging it on a tree and leaving tit there? Anybody ever had one stolen? I wouldn't fix a hundred dollar bill to a tree and leave it either. Some of those photo's in here are really nice though. I'm guessing they are stored on a card? How many pic's? Some of thoes would make dandy blow ups!

  25. Default

    I took that bear into my photo processor site and cropped it. Only 800x600 pics. Tried a 4x8 pic and didn't work at that few pic's. Try to post it anyway, super photo!

    Tried to get a 4x8 with it in a new photo share site. Didn't come out to bad. If it had the pic's I could make a 9x18 of it, they are really neat!

    Last edited by Don Fischer; 07-14-2017 at 12:29 PM.

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