Habitat Consultant Talks Trail Camera Don’ts


A real simple and important, yet often overlooked tip for today. We’ve all heard the guys taking about throwing dirty shirts, going to the bathroom &/or putting all sorts of stuff around neighbor’s stands that sit on the property line. One can argue how effective any of those things are, but we’d likely all agree that the goal is to introduce a foreign odor near their ethics pushing property line stand, with the idea of keeping deer away.

If we all understand that, why do so few take odor control of the cams and ourselves at all seriously when placing cams on our grounds, often near stands? By not, aren’t we attempting the same thing those trying to sabotage fence sitters stands are doing, only to ourselves?!?!?!

Under normal conditions, human odors are detectable by deer for 48ish hours after touching a branch with untreated, bare skin. Other odors, such as exhaust fumes, can last much longer. So, the combo of storing cams on a shelf in the garage, or some other sloppy storage method, and handling with untreated, bare hands will generally alert the deer downwind to our presence for two or more days.

We wouldn’t purposefully toss dirty shirts by our own stands. Why put out cams that smell every bit as alarming?

The biggest problem I see with cams doing harm to our hunting efforts (a nearly unforgivable hunting/deer management sin in my eyes, as they are SUPPOSED to help, not hurt these efforts) are high impact placement, high impact checking, putting out cams that smell, loud cams and visible flash cams (generally the least problematic of the list. Most deer seem to tolerate flash cams from the start and managers/hunters can actually train most of those more skittish resident deer to accept them eventually).

Trail Cameras
Trail Cameras

Store the cams in sealed totes (I use ScenTotes, but nearly any product designed for storing treated hunting clothing will work, as will a host of other cheaper alternatives), at a minimum, wear boots and gloves treated as seriously as if hunting, factor wind direction into the setups near bedding areas, generally select low impact cam locations and time your swaps for late morning-early afternoon, when deer are typically least active. Do those things and one comes a lot closer to cams consistently going undetected by deer and being nothing but a plus for our hunting/management efforts.

If the cams don’t make noise (a big deer alerting issue) or smell offensive (the worst deer alerting issue), even if the deer see them in their bedding areas (typically, not a good place for cams…I typically only use that placement for instructional purposes), they’re most often viewed as harmless. As a side note, the last video is a mic malfunction, not the cam making noise.