Game Camera Photography
By Jerry Dupree
I have enjoyed the outdoors all of my life and joined the Boy Scouts to be out in the mountains or the desert. I began hunting while in high school and as often as possible while attending college. As I grew older, the people I hunted with did too. At about that time I learned of game cameras and watched a few television programs where they had been used. Most of the photos were of law enforce.ment such as game wardens in order to apprehend poachers, marijuana growers, polluters, and people with illegal and dangerous fires. I think game cameras were designed to help hunters to locate good places to hunt game and what kinds and sizes of animals in the habitat.
I bought two game cameras online from Stealth Cam. I also have a pair of Bushnell cameras, I knew enough to choose a camera with the best resolution which means the most number of mega pixels. The cameras have various settings for different conditions and can be set for still photography or video. I do both and leave them set up for a week. My first cameras had play back, which tells me what I “caught” during the week. The videos also have sound and I have heard people commenting about the cameras and coyotes howling in front of the cameras. The night vision images are black and white, and not as sharp as daylight photos. They have motion detector shutter releases and will take ten second videos although the time can be set for a longer period. Ten seconds seems to be the typical length of time for an animal to be in the frame. If they remain or return, the camera will take another ten second video.
There is a learning curve for when and how to set up the cameras. I always point the cameras north so they will not be exposed to direct sunlight into the lens. I use dry dog food and a small can of cat food for bait to attract predators and scavengers. I sprinkle the dog food in a bush to keep the animals in the frame for as long as possible while they search for each bite. Any movement can set off the camera such as wind blowing grass, leaves, or branches. I conceal the cameras by trimming around the position to cover the sides and make them less visible to humans. I carry a small folding saw, grass shears, pruning shears, and a small level to prepare the camera positions. The cameras are then aimed at the bait station.
River beds are like freeways for animals and are mostly clear of brush from one side to the other. One can observe tracks to determine what kinds of animals frequent the area and how recently. I avoid locations where there might be human foot traffic as well as tire treads. I have taken a few pictures of hikers, horsemen, and illegal motor vehicles despite the signs posted everywhere. I have had cameras stolen or disturbed. The good news is the cameras are not highly expensive and like
everything else in technical and electronic equipment, they are getting cheaper, better, improved quality and more features. There is always risk involved with theft, damage, and flooding. I recently had my cameras placed where I believe was above the high water mark of a dry river bed and
returned to find my cameras encased in drie mud. They passed the durability test as I rinsed them off with water and cleaned them up with paper towels, Kleenex, and Q tips. They are working fine now.
Among the equipment to bring are a GPS, a pencil, and pad of paper to record the coordinates, date, and mark with a “way point” in order to return to the camera position. The GPS will record your “bread crumb trail” to the cameras. I wear a back pack and a hunting vest with large pockets to bring tools, bait, water, and accessories. I have a small pistol for protection from snakes and mountain lions. It is loaded with .38 cal. shot shells in the first two chambers and hollow points in the rest. I have encoun.tered rattlesnakes and a mountain lion.
Wildlife photography is a very satisfying hobby for me as it gives me a good reason to be in the wilderness and a challenge to find the right locations and back drops.
I have recently acquired a drone to try another form of wildlife photography. My plan is to fly it up and down river beds to see what kinds of animals I can find from a vertical vantage point.
So far I have photographed coyotes, road runners, tortoises, cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits, gray foxes, kit foxes, bobcats, squirrels, badgers, a mountain lion, big horn sheep, vultures, snakes, various lizards, hawks, quail. I like to get shots of animals up close and personal. ~ Jerry