When it comes to game cameras, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is what height to set your camera at. Camera height affects the angle of view, distance and size of the objects captured in photos or videos.
In this article, we’ll discuss factors to consider when setting the height of your trail camera, as well as height recommendations for different game species. We’ll also provide tips on camera placement for optimal results.
Factors to consider when setting the height of a trail camera:
Distance from the subject
The key to choosing a trail camera height is finding one that can capture clear images of your target species while minimizing the chance for detection. To do so, you’ll need to get close enough to get a high-quality shot without spooking your target. However, you don’t want to get too close and possibly miss shots due to movement of your subject or presence of vegetation in the way.
A good rule of thumb is the lower the camera angle, the greater distance an object will appear in photos of it (although there are exceptions).
Height recommendations for different game species
For up-close subjects such as deer and turkeys: Set trail cameras between two and four feet above the ground. This will minimize the chance for your target species to spot the camera while maximizing the distance you’ll be able to capture it at.
For midsized animals like hogs and coyotes: Set trail cameras three to six feet off the ground. This will maximize your chances of not only capturing images of your target, but also its surroundings including vegetation, brush, water sources and food plots.
For big game species such as elk or bears: Set trail cameras four to eight feet above the ground. These heights are recommended due to the risk associated with hunting these animals especially in areas where they may be overly-trafficked by hunters using elevated stands or blinds which can spook big game away.
Although this isn’t always the case, elevated game cameras can also be beneficial in areas with highly-traveled game trails. By setting your trail camera height to align with these trails at heights between four and eight feet you’ll be able to capture clear images of animals traveling along them even in low light conditions.
This is especially important when using remote cameras that are more likely to spook subjects due to their lack of mobility once activated which could cause them to leave the area entirely during critical low-light periods.
Consider changing the placement of your trail camera if it’s near a water source or food plot. Animals will gravitate towards these locations where there is an abundance of resources available, so it would be wise to move the camera in these cases if no game seem to be using game trails in the area or specific stand location.
Another thing to consider when choosing a trail camera height is whether you’re in an area that’s primarily sunny, overcast, wet or hot and dry. In sunny conditions, it’s best to use your trail camera at either midday or just before dusk as its battery life will last longer during these times of day.
In overcast conditions, consider using your trail cameras earlier in the morning or late afternoon/evening when there is less of a chance for rain which can cause short circuit issues on some devices. If you’re going to be placing your trail cameras in a highly-wet area, it’s best to choose ones that are weatherproof and can be submerged underwater without breaking.
If they aren’t waterproof, consider placing your game camera on higher ground or in a shelter where water will run-off of surrounding vegetation instead of pooling up at the base of the trail camera.
As for hot and dry conditions, keep in mind that most game cameras are powered by batteries which tend to drain faster when exposed to excessive heat. For this reason alone it’s not advisable to place game cameras directly out into the open where high temperatures can heat them up excessively making batteries die more quickly than normal.
Additionally, you’ll want all your components protected from sun damage including memory cards, batteries and lenses so if possible be sure they are covered or at the very least have UV protection built-in.
You’ll also want to take into account how quickly vegetation and brush on your hunting property will grow back after a frost or freeze event.
If it’s already growing back by mid-summer you can expect that it will block trail camera images within three to six months depending on the thickness and proximity of surrounding vegetation which means you should try and move your game cameras as often as possible if they aren’t producing quality images because of this.
To better understand how elevation changes affect an area, check out these photos of homes for sale in Encinitas , CA where the first photo was taken from approximately 300 feet above sea level while the second one was taken from approximately 500 feet above sea level.
Notice the difference in foliage, terrain and even the number of homes visible in each image.
Camera placement tips
Consider using game cameras on elevated stands or tripods if you’re hunting an area that is heavily hunted by deer hunters with elevated platform stands or larger blinds which can spook animals away from your hunting area.
By positioning game cameras at eye-level for deer, most animals will simply pass underneath them without notice since they won’t be able to see them hanging overhead.
Buy game cameras with adjustable heights if possible so they can be placed directly on the ground for species like bear where mounted heights are not ideal . This works well for other large carnivores well including wolves, mountain lions and even moose.
If you’re hunting bear, be sure to use game cameras with adjustable sensors so the flash range can be modified depending on whether you’re photographing at close or distance ranges.
This is especially important if you’re using infra-red emitters for nighttime shooting since they don’t get nearly as bright when activated at longer distances away from their target subject.
Game cameras placed on tree stands should always be mounted 6+ feet off the ground in order for animals like deer and bears not to run into them while moving through an area at night or during low-light conditions.
A good rule of thumb for this is to place game cameras around 10 feet high which will allow most animals including species like raccoon, opossum, armadillos and feral hogs to pass underneath them without issue.
It’s best to avoid using ground-level game cameras since they are easily damaged from the elements including from being crushed by heavy vegetation or kicked over by larger animals like deer or bears. If you’re going to set a camera on the ground, try placing it in a shelter where water will run away from it instead of pooling up around its base which could damage internal components.
Game cameras placed higher off the ground tend to have a better field of view for photographing wildlife especially if they are mounted roughly 6-10 feet high. The closer an animal is to the camera, the more detail you’ll capture but this also puts them in closer range of being detected by their senses including smell, hearing and eyesight. It’s important to keep these things in mind when deciding on the best height for your game camera setups.
Regardless of what type of game camera you end up using whether it be a multi-purpose trail camera , digital scouting camera or even a security device , there are certain practices everyone can do to ensure they’re getting optimal results from each setup they use no matter the location .
All it takes is taking into consideration some simple elements involving elevation, vegetation density and basic understanding about how animals perceive their surroundings.
If you incorporate these things into your hunting strategy along with learning more about various types of game cameras, this will help lead to better results and more animals harvested whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran.
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