Trail Camera Mounting Height – What Is the Right Height?
Imagine the disappointment of retrieving your trail camera only to find blank shots or cropped off images. Sucks, right? You will be shocked at how often this happens!
Improper mounting is one of the causes of flops in capturing trail videos and images. In particular, it’s essential to get the mounting height right.
On one hand, you want to have your camera close enough for the animals to be in detection range and for capturing great photos.
On the other hand, the last thing you want is for a deer or buck to notice your camera and veer off the trail forever.
This begs the question, what is the right trail camera mounting height? Well, it depends. We show you this and other important tips that will help you get great shots from your trail cam!
What exactly are you looking to capture?
Mounting your camera the recommended 3 to 5 feet off the ground often works if you are not anticipating any creature in particular. However, depending on your country and the animals available at a particular season, you can adjust your height accordingly.
For deer, (which are usually the desired catch), a height between 24" and 30" works just fine. Larger animals like elks and bears can be captured from a higher level of about 36" to 45". Although people go for small creatures like squirrels and turkeys less often, a height of about 20" and below works just fine.
Your camera’s detection range
Most cameras clearly indicate their detection range in the features. Narrow and short detection range cameras often focus on a specific spot as opposed to their wide counterparts which can capture a horizontal wide field of view.
For this reason, it would be counterproductive to mount your camera high up if it has a narrow range as you risk missing your target animal. Aiming for the chest of the animal often increases the chances of detection even from a relatively far position.
Security and Camouflage
The last thing you want is for your subjects to feel watched or detect the camera. This includes humans.
The result is them fleeing the scene or destroying your camera. As for people, some are not above stealing. The number of guys caught on camera trying to steal a camera is quite baffling.
For this reason, camouflage and secure you must! Moss plants are one of the best camouflages used as they easily cover on your camera, can be found anywhere and still look realistic when dry.
While we’re talking about camouflaging, try and make sure that you also avoid leaving your scent in the scene. For this reason, put on gloves as you set up your trail camera. You can also use a scent spray to remove your scent from the trail.
As far as security goes, a security box will keep thieves away or at least give them a hard time getting to the camera. This paired with a python lock (preferably camouflaged) will keep your camera secured.
Is the trail sloppy or leveled?
On leveled land, setting up your camera is pretty straightforward. After deciding the preferred height for your camera, mount the camera facing down the trail. Level grounds are preferred to sloppy trails as they are easy to work with. However, in case your target area is on a sloped ground, ensure you tilt your camera in the direction of the slope.
How long should you wait to check your camera?
I know it can get really tense when waiting to check out what your camera has captured. However, you must learn to be patient so as not to upset the behavior and movement of the critters in your focus point. Frequent visits to the camera site often results in driving animals away.
On the other hand, you run the risk of your camera's battery dying or the SD card filling up if you go too long without checking the camera. A balance between these two opposing viewpoints would be to check your camera every two weeks. As such, you have the added advantage of knowing when it is time to switch locations, without wasting too much time.
Mount in the right location
As you pay attention to mounting your camera at the right height, remember to consider the location as well. There is no given location that guarantees great shots. However, you can make an educated guess by setting up in areas where animals frequent. Such locations include feeding areas and water sources, natural clearings and bait stations among other areas.
Speaking of bait stations, you can also lure critters to your camera by setting up food stations or paths among other things. This can be a great way to capture shots when you are pressed for time.
Tips and Common Pitfalls to Avoid
When setting up your camera, avoid mounting it in the direction of the sun, as the sun will be directly behind the subject. This will result in obscuring the animal or producing a glare in your shots.
You should also avoid placing your camera in the open such as at the edge of clear cuts. This is because it can lead to unnecessary or empty shots due to false triggers caused by the wind or temperature changes. Keep in mind that placing your camera at the edge of clear cuts exposes it to detection, either by the animals or other people.
- Level ground is better than a sloppy area when selecting a location as it eliminates guesswork and trial and error.
- Clear branches and vegetation from your camera to avoid false triggers. At the same time, do not place your camera too close to the edge of clear cuts for the same reason.
- Limit your visits to the trail to avoid disturbing the natural ambiance and spooking out animals.