When hunting, there is no substitute for the good old know-how of the woods which can only be learned by spending time in the woods and the fields observing the animals and the signs they leave. When I was young, the only way to learn about wildlife was to look for the signs the animals made or to observe them while hunting or scouting.
Then, maybe four decades ago, the idea of capturing the image of big game via a remote camera came onto the hunting scene. I remember one company shipping me an old 35mm film camera enclosed in a somewhat waterproof box that was state of the art, at least at the time. The camera had a thin trip wire that was stretched over a game trail. When the animal touched the wire, the shutter fell on the camera and, supposedly, the image was captured on film. Of course, the film had to be developed to see the picture. If I remember correctly, my success with this crude “trail camera” was far from stellar.
And then when the technology evolved into digital cameras and trail cameras, I started using SD cards to capture and store the image, I quickly jumped on board with one of the previous models. Now I could have my camera out in the field, capturing footage around a feeder or well-used trail and occasionally going to pull out the SD card and plug it into my computer and view the photos along with the time and the date the animal passed through. Cutting edge, I thought, and that was then, but I had no idea how fast this technology would advance.
A buddy told me about his “remote” camera a few years ago which captures images and sends them to a website he can access and see the activity around his deer feeder. I remember telling him it was almost cheating! The service wasn’t cheap, but it gave my friend instant access to his deer lease activities. A few years later, smart phone apps were developed that allowed images from remote “live” cameras to be instantly transferred to the phone. This technology is very popular today, I have a few of these cameras on my cell phone app where I observe wildlife daily.
These advancements have revolutionized the way many of us keep an eye out for wildlife on our property or leases but, as viewers say… wait, wait; There is more! I recently spent some time with Steven Waugh who is an expert in video camera surveillance for both homes and businesses, as well as in the woods.
Many of you will recall a previous column I did with Steven. He is the Kaufman County Licensed Feral Hog Buyer who comes to your property, picks up the hogs you have caught, and pays you for them. Technology helps Waugh a lot by saving gas to check traps. He introduced me to his CCTV cameras which are solar powered and virtually maintenance free once mounted on your feed plot or near a game feeder.
“Many of my clients are amazed to learn that for around $200 I can set them up with a video camera that sends live video to their smartphone in 4G LTE resolution,” says Steven. “The app allows the user to switch right and left. and cover approximately 320 degrees in front of the camera. With a zoom button, it is possible to zoom in close to see a buck’s antlers up close. .
I can see how useful it would be to determine the trails deer use to approach a field or feeding area. With the remote cameras I use, it’s quite common to spot a male and pop him out of the viewfinder. A video camera that can be maneuvered to “follow” a moving animal is a huge advantage. While most still image cameras transmit photos in about 2 minutes, the video stream from Waugh’s camera reaches your smartphone about 30 seconds past real time.
Waugh says it’s important to mount the camera on a small tree or metal pole, large diameter trees will limit the amount of area the camera can record. One of the biggest features of Waugh’s video camera is the SD card that automatically switches to ATT or Verizon, whichever has the strongest signal in a given area. The cost of the service is $15 per month. When you stop and think about it, it doesn’t take long to spend fifteen dollars on gas when driving to the lease to remove and check SD cards from conventional surveillance cameras.
With live, real-time video, it is possible to monitor an entire patch or food field and determine the best place to set up to hunt. Incorporate a little hunting know-how, like wind direction and game movement pattern in and out of the hunting area, and the hunter can really do a lot of “spotting.” from his armchair at home or the rest room at work!
Cellular coverage by at least one of the carriers has proven to be good in most places Waugh has his cameras running, but he also offers an antenna that plugs into the camera and boosts the signal if needed.
Yes, hunting for game has come a long, long way since I was a boy in Red River County, learning the difference between hog and deer tracks or figuring out if bits of acorn under an oak tree came from of a deer or squirrel feeding. If someone had said back then that I could look at a small device I held in my hand and observe a place deep in the woods where I hoped to see deer, I would have thought them from another planet.
We hunters have come a very long way using modern technology. But no matter how far those “eyes” travel in the woods, the art of wood is still very important. After all, we need to know where to place cameras to monitor game and that kind of knowledge comes from time spent in the woods!
Learning to model the game we hunt is a big part of what makes hunting challenging and fun. But I must admit that I have become very dependent on the images that these cameras send me from remote areas.
For more information on using CCTV cameras for hunting, contact Steven Waugh at 214-809-5303 or email email@example.com