Common Trail Camera Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Jaimie Robinson // April 24

I don’t know about you but the first week of June is one of the most exciting weeks of the year. It is draw results week in Colorado for most of the big game species. After this week, I start e-scouting my areas and planning where to place my trail cameras.  While e-scouting is the best way to start, you never really know until you get your boots on the ground to see the trails.

Tips for Trail Camera Placement

Location choice

I am not sure why, but I always see animals while I am out scouting. This helps immensely when choosing a spot to put trail cameras. If I do not see anything but have identified something on a map that looks like a wallow or a nice, isolated meadow, I follow the main trail until I see trails with fresh tracks or other signs that move toward my target area.

I always veer off the main trail as soon as I see an active game trail. If the trail is not on the way to a target I identified while scouting online, I always mark it on either onX or BaseMap to go back and explore. As I walk down game trails, I look for split points, active water holes, rub points, or wallows.  These are the best points trail camera placement.

Hanging your trail camera

Now that you have an area identified, you need to find your tree or post spot. I always try to place it 10-20 yards away from the spot I want to view. This hopefully will remove your cameras from the action enough that they will not get pushed around. Nothing is more frustrating than having animals in a wallow or having the pattern down just to have a curious cow or doe move your camera so it is pointing directly at a tree. This not only stinks because you are no longer looking at your target but it often creates the next issue.

trail camera placement

One thing experienced trail camera users dread is the shadow phenomenon. This is a second issue you have to deal with when you place your camera: being so excited for hundreds or thousands of pictures and a branch or a shadow moves at a certain time of day. Shadows are harder to prepare for, but make sure to look at branches close to your camera and determine the likelihood of branches in your camera’s field of view that may blow into the frame.

The final thing to think about is the angle. Often, we put our cameras on the side of a hill. If you mount your camera straight on a tree, you may see the tips of antlers and not be able to tell what you are looking at. Often, I place a broken branch behind the top of my camera to set it at an angle so that I am catching the important parts of animals. You want to mount your cameras at an appropriate height for your intended target. It will differ as deer, elk, moose, etc are all different in stature.

You want this:

trail cameras

Not this:

trail cameras

Learning the art of scouting with your trail cameras and their placement is a constantly changing game. Even the most experienced scouters get skunked or hang their cameras poorly. Like all of hunting, we are always learning.

What are your tips for trail camera placement?

About the Author

Jaimie Robinson

Jaimie lives north of Denver, Colorado. She is the mother of two wonderful children. All her life, she has had a passion for the outdoors. She concentrates this passion on archery, hunting, and fitness. She grew up in rural western Pennsylvania, where she developed an appreciation for nature and worked on her knack for shooting guns. Spent hours just watching deer move from her back porch and explored the forest. When she moved to Colorado in 2006, she went on her first hunting trip and harvested an antelope with a rifle. In late 2006, she tried archery for the first time and fell in love. She has been active in the archery community in Colorado ever since. Archery has become Jaimie’s passion and she strives to learn everything she can about it. She does her best to share her passion for archery with everyone she meets. She has expanded her horizons to waterfowl and upland hunting, fishing, and rifle hunting. She spends as much time in the outdoors as she can. Jaimie is passionate about making the sport better for women and helping others become better hunters.