Scouting the movements of whitetail deer is a craft in and of itself. Take a walk through the woods with any old accomplished hunter and you’ll quickly realize all the things you’ve overlooked. They can spot tracks and interpret them not just in the muddy washes or bare patches like most of us. They’ll spot hair from yards away and know what part of the body it is from. They’ll study droppings and be able to estimate when it dropped, and usually be able to guesstimate the recent diet of the deer. They’ll notice the way leaves or blades of tall grass are pushed over by the body of a deer and not just the wind.
They rely on what they see in person…however today many hunters study what they see on their screens. The art of scouting has changed into a digital term to many. Trail cameras have allowed a hunter from across the country or world for that matter document and record movements of the deer on their hunting property. The explosion of trail camera companies is immense and the desire for more and more options is evident. Just years ago hunters thought a grainy black and white image was awesome…now they demand calendar quality images….or the images be texted to their phones. Needless to say trail cameras are everywhere.
Many of you whom follow Small Acre Hunting know my father and I rely heavily on trail camera images to do a lot of our scouting. I still believe and trust my eyes more than the motion sensor on a camera but they are truly priceless tools in our hunting. Hence why over the years I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on trail cameras and never once have I had an issue outside of a camera going dead or a storm breaking them…until now.
Now I can state that sadly pops and I have had trail cameras stolen. The worst part is it all occurred right where I’d have guessed it would if someone could have warned me. Yet knowing that in my gut, I never took steps towards fighting it if it were to happen; which is sadly something we have to consider doing in the society we now live in. Gone are the days we can trust our fellow man to leave our property alone no matter whether you are hunting private, public, country or urban…if you do you will find yourself where I do; filing a police report of stolen property that will most likely go nowhere and attempting to re-mobilize cameras with the fear they may be stolen again.
So what should you do…well for starters consider the following:
Track your cameras description/model/serial number and its current location. Moving forward my father and I are going to initialize an alphabet style tracking system. Each camera will be labeled with a letter in the alphabet. That letter will have a line on a spreadsheet stating Make, Model, description (color and such), interface description, how many batteries it takes and where its current location is.
Be willing to file a police report if one comes up missing and prosecute if possible. Far too often guys blow it off and don’t file in fear of the suspected party. What they did isn’t right, so making a report is the first step to making sure the event is recorded forever. I can guarantee you NOTHING will happen if you continue to do NOTHING.
Always keep in mind theft is a real option…utilize your cheaper/cheapest cameras in the highest risk spots if you know you have spots like that. Yes, it will still infuriate you when it happens but at least it isn’t your $200 camera but your $100. Sting will be less, somewhat.
If you desperately desire to catch them and you know theft is a real high possibility consider throwing #3 out and upgrade the camera to one that sends messages either to email or your phone remotely. Yes these cost more but even if they steal the camera you have pictures of them leading up to the theft occurring sometimes seconds prior and if they don’t shut the camera off moments after.
Many Camera companies nowadays offer pad lock systems or even bear proof systems for protecting cameras more than just the usual strap around the tree. Again cost is higher here but may be worth it in the long run!
Another way to combat theft is hanging cameras in hard to see spots. This is often hard though because if tucked away and hard to see it may not capture what you need it to….so sometimes tucking it in hard to see spots could mean elevating it. Taking a 4 or 5 foot ladder with you puts the camera above the eye level of most human beings yet still should pick up game moving in front of the camera…doesn’t eliminate the chance of theft but it should lesson them noticing the camera and then makes them work to get it being higher.
I am not advocating this, because it may lead to more cameras stolen and eats up a couple cameras for the job but putting out a dummy camera with others pointing at it may be the surefire way to capture the scum stealing your cameras….just remember this could backfire and you lose more cameras should they catch on and notice the cams overlooking the dummy one.
Honestly, #1 & #2 are the keys though. Should your camera get stolen the ability to describe to a “T” exactly what the camera looks like, its serial number and even have a picture of it is HUGE for the police report. It in no way guarantees your property will be recovered but it is a surefire way to guarantee if it is recovered there will be no doubt it is your property...and #2 is the only way to accomplish anything when mutual respect is lost.
The fact that I even have to share this article saddens me…and if any of you reading this have stolen trail cameras or stands or blinds please exit the woods and don’t return.
You are the definition of what is wrong with this sport and to be honest our society. The world is not here to cater to you, or give you things. That camera you stole someone worked hard for in some fashion and is relying on that camera to assist them in their enjoyment of the sport they love. By taking it you show that you have no decency, respect or humanity inside of you. We don’t want you in our hunting brethren. You don’t deserve to be.
We are watching and we will prosecute.
Please share this with all of our hunting brethren!