TRAIL CAMERA 101 Trail cameras come in many different styles, applications, and price ranges, just like cars. The first thing you have to decide is what you are going to use it for. A cheap camera will take cheap pictures and a high end camera will take high end pictures. Dont buy a Yugo car and try to pull a 3000 lb. Boat, and dont buy a Hummer if you never leave the city. My cameras are both Moultrie I-40s. Not the best - not the worst, just the ones I have. Are you interested in daytime pictures only? Night and daytime? Is picture quality important? What do you want to take pictures of? These are the basic questions you must decide on. This is not an infomercial for Moultrie, but I will explain why I chose this particular model. Moultrie is an American company with an excellent reputation. The I-40 is their mid-range camera. It has an infrared flash, records (on the actual picture) time - date - temp - moon phase - camera ID, memory expandable with an SD card, laser aim assist, and it comes with all the connection cords to either play on a computer or television set. It has a 52 deg. optical field of view, and three resolution settings. It is also capable of recording 30 sec. video clips. The software is updateable, but no updates are available at this time. Most cameras come with a nighttime light source. Either a strobe type flash or infrared. If you are walking thru the woods and a big flash goes off - it will spook you. If you are walking thru the woods and an infrared flash goes off - you will not notice it. IR cameras are more expensive but are better at night (black and white pictures), and color during daylight. Mine have the IR flash. Picture quality follows the same line. Some cameras (digital) are as low as 40K pixels and the picture is very grainy and not much detail. A good camera will be at least 2.0 MP and up, and the higher the pixel count - the higher the picture quality. Memory is an important thing. Better cameras have expandable memory via a SD card. Mine have an expandable memory. Without the SD card mine have 32 MB and that can be used up in a couple days at an active site. With the added SD card 2 GIG it will and has taken thousands of pictures over a couple week period. The program that I use to view my pictures is called Picasa 3 and is a FREE program from Google. Works great. Is the camera going to be used on public or private land. If its use is on private land AND you feel nobody will mess with it - great! If the camera is going to be used on public land - you really should invest in an anti-theft device that is secure enough to protect your investment. It does and will happen. Would you leave your tackle box sit there? SET-UP If the camera can see ANY heat source, it will take a picture of it - over and over and ect. The #1 problem heat source is the sun. Never aim the camera where it can get even a glimpse of the sun, morning - noon - sunset - reflection off a building, it will take a picture over and over ect. What the camera sees with its 52 deg. Field of view. The light blue area is what the camera will actually take a picture of. The yellow area is the infrared sensing area. This is the area that actually triggers the camera. The camera has a 1.5 to 2 second delay from trigger to actual shutter click. As you can see, at 30 from the camera, the sensor field is only 11 wide. At 10, the sensor field is only 3 wide. Anything past 50 is out of sensor range (except the sun). How do I know this? By taking small steps at a right angle to the camera and watching for when it sees me. Where possible, point the camera as close to North as possible, it is the best direction to point the camera, especially open area pictures. Trust me, Ive had as many as 380 pictures in one 24 hr. period that were triggered by the sun. The trick is to get the (we will use a deer as the object to be photographed) deer into the sensor area to trigger the camera and have it as close to the center of the photo when the time delay actually clicks the shutter. Sounds complicated but if you put some bait (I prefer cracked corn) there to hold the deer, problem solved. I try to do a set-up where the deer will be at 30 from the camera when the shutter clicks. At this distance, the IR field is 11 wide, and the deer will travel about 4 to 5 in the 1 ½ to 2 second time delay, putting it in the center. That is for shots where the deer is passing at a 90 deg. Angle with the camera. BAIT STRIP IT WORKS WORKS AT NIGHT ALSO For scouting with NO BAIT, try to point the camera straight down the trail, and then the deer will enter the IR sensor area for a longer time. MOUNTING THE CAMERA Mount the camera on a tree of equal size of the camera or larger. It should be mounted from 3 to 4 high, and level, It should have an open field of view of where you want the picture to take place. Personally, I try for the focal point of my picture to be 30 away and close to center. Clear any tall weeds that will be in the picture because at night - they will stand out as white and really interfere with the exposure. DONT LET THIS HAPPEN My farm (144 ac.) is Ozark river bottoms. The Castor river can come up 20 in a good rainstorm. This is the best way to destroy a trail camera. This is a picture of flood water on this trail. The camera went under water and was beyond repair. After you get your camera set-up like you think is going to work, you will get many many pictures of squirrels, every bird in the woods, coons, opossums, skunks, crows, turkeys, and even a coyote or two. A lot of these pictures wont have anything in them. (critters) That is because they were not in the cameras field of view when the shutter clicked but they were there to set off the IR trigger, and have moved out of camera shot. Never set it up under a good squirrel tree. Those little devils scamper all over the place all day long. Most everything I have written about in this article was learned the hard way. I hope it helps eliminate some of your screw-ups and you get lots of great pictures. I have thousands of pictures that have nothing of interest in them, and they didnt cost anything because they can be Deleted. Enjoy!