In little over a year, Steve Fiske has learned a lot about trail-cam photography, using it near his home and in southeastern Iowa where he hunts deer with friends. He offers these tips for trail-cam users:
"Height is important," Fiske said. "A lot of people put them up too high. I put them right above my knee. You have to remember, deer are not that tall." The angle of the camera toward the deer trail is important. If you put the camera at a 90-degree angle to the trail, the deer or other animal may be gone before your camera can power up and capture it. "Set it up at 45 degrees to the trail or head on," Fiske said. "Your chances of getting a whole animal are a lot better." Because some photos will be taken during daylight hours, you might want to point your camera north so the sun will be behind it for most of the day, Fiske said. He has placed cameras pointing east or west to get sunrise or sunset photos, acknowledging that shooting directly into the sun may ruin some photos, too. Don't check your cameras too often. "I like to leave them in the woods for a week or two at a time," Fiske said, "so the area is undisturbed. If you check cameras too often, you'll leave too much of your scent in the woods and discourage deer from coming around. Fiske has tried to enhance his chances of seeing deer by planting vegetation to attract them. He uses a seed mix that includes clover, rye, rapeseed, chicory and two kinds of turnips.
"It grew about 2 1/2 feet high this past summer and attracted lots of does and fawns. Once fall came, I had 10 or 12 bucks in there in a week and a half," he said.