Preseason scouting is invaluable. But time in the woods, or watching from a distance, only gets you so far. And you can only watch one field at a time, while the buck of your dreams may be in another.
All this is what makes trail cameras such an important component in the bowhunter’s toolbox. They’re your eyes in the woods when you’re not there. They tell you where game animals are not, where they are, and when they were there.
It’s no surprise then why they’ve become so popular. That ever-increasing consumer demand has generated some remarkably innovative technology, and what follows is a rundown of the latest, greatest offerings from today’s top trail camera manufacturers.
Big Game Treestands
Big Game Treestands enters the trail camera category with three all-new Eyecon trail cameras — Storm ($219), Black Widow ($170), and QuikShot ($119). All feature a low-profile molded ABS housing with a non-reflective finish, a molded channel for a security cable, and a large backlit LED screen. Each has video and photo modes (including programmable photo-burst settings) with a long detection range and produce full color in daytime and monochrome at night, with time, date and moon-phase imprinted. The Storm and the Black Widow feature an undetectable Invisiflash. These cameras run on six C-cell batteries or the Eyecon Extenda-Life battery pack (sold separately) and will record up to 40,000 images on one charge.
BuckEye Cam’s new X7D Wireless Camera ($699) is more than just a camera. It operates on a 6V or 12V battery for flexibility; sports 75 invisible LEDs; boasts a super-fast, 1⁄10-second trigger speed; 5MP resolution and video mode. In addition to gathering its own images and video, the X7D can receive data from up to 254 other cameras and store it all on a single SD card — allowing you to gather all your scouting data with a single visit to the field. The X7D weighs 1 lb. and is 70% smaller than past BuckEye Cam units.
Bushnell upgraded its 2012 line of Trophy Cam HD cameras ($229.99–$299.99) with a host of new features. The new Field Scan 2x technology allows you to program two windows of time-lapse capture, such as sunset and sundown, at preset intervals ranging from 1–60 minutes, while simultaneously capturing live trigger images. Improved Hyper Night Vision technology delivers enhanced image brightness and better quality images of game up to 60' away while displaying no red glow. The Trophy Cam HD has an auto passive infrared (PIR) sensor that automatically adjusts sensitivity levels based on the ambient temperature. You also have the ability to input the GPS coordinates of the camera and auto-embed a Geotag on each image or video captured. The info stamp has been upgraded to also include date, time, temperature, moon phase and a user-selected name. A one-year battery life enables the incredibly fast 0.6-second trigger speed, and a massive 32GB SD card will store more than 20,000 images.
Covert Scouting Cameras
Covert enters the fray with six new cameras for 2012. Headlining the list is the Special OPS “Code Black” ($359.99), which features 60 invisible infrared LEDs, 8MP resolution, a 2" color viewer, and it will wirelessly transfer 640x480 resolution images to your e-mail or cell phone (must add a line to your cell service). It shoots video or still images with adjustable sensitivity and also has a time-lapse mode. The photo stamp includes date, time, temp and moon phase imprint. It operates on 12 AAs, accepts up to an 8GB SD card, and it comes in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo. The Black60 ($249.99) is essentially a non-wireless version of the “Code Black.” The Red40 ($199.99) gives you the same features in a 40 IR LED version, while the MP6 ($149.99) is a 28 IR LED version.
The Ambush IR ($200) is a compact camera with full-size performance features like Cuddeback’s legendary ¼-second trigger speed, 5-second delay, and Centered Subject Technology for more 5MP game photos and far fewer blank images. Correctly Exposed IR Technology reduces flash washout and produces consistently even IR illumination at night, while Smart Color Technology provides superior color saturation and vibrant colors in daylight — both with selectable delays from 5 seconds to 3 minutes. With Cuddeback’s Super Simple Setup the Ambush IR can also be set to take 10-second videos. It uses an SD card (1–32GB) and has a 120MB internal memory that records images if you forget or lose your card.
Day 6 Outdoors
Innovators at Day 6 Outdoors should be sincerely flattered by the spate of trail cameras that now offer a time-lapse, “plot-watcher” function. But there’s a difference between imitations and the original. One such difference is the software. Trail cameras are designed to take jpeg photos, even in plot-watcher mode, which eats up disc space, power, and can result in hundreds of photos that may take hours to view. The PlotWatcher Pro ($249.99) is a time-lapse video camera that saves video files in half the memory space, and uses a quarter of the battery power, while defining time-of-day for video start and stop. The GameFinder video player software (included) allows you to watch 12 hours worth of video in just a few minutes. The PlotWatcher Pro has a 2.5" LCD for onboard camera set-up, video aiming and camera status messages, and it accepts add-on zoom lenses.
Hunten Outdoors' GSC22-T70IR ($200) shoots 7MP color images and video by day and 5MP black-and-white images at night with 56 no-glow Night Vision LEDs. The PIR sensor activates when motion and heat are detected up to 60' away, and the camera has a blistering 1⁄3-second trigger speed and a burst mode. It also features a built-in 2.4" TFT LCD color display viewer, mounting bracket and adjustable mounting strap, and cable lock holes. It’s powered by four C-cell batteries and is compatible with a 6V battery pack and solar panels.
Leupold’s RCX Trail Cameras are packed full of features including a silent digital shutter that captures images to the CMOS sensor with no moving parts that can spook game. The IR filter activates at night only and deactivates in the morning. You can select from multiple options for file type and size, picture quality, sensitivity, time-lapse, temperature, barometer readings (RCX-2), multi-picture mode, event delay, operation hours, video quality/length, day/night settings and camera name. The RCX-1 ($229.99) offers 8MP resolution, 45-degree PIR and 45' trigger range while the RCX-2 ($279.99) offers 10MP resolution, dual 10 and 45-degree PIR and maximum trigger range of 45' or 90', depending on setting. For another $50 you can add the kit, which includes their RCX Controller/Viewer, 12V cable, car adapter, home adapter, USB cable, AA battery pack cartridge tray, Lithium-Ion battery for RCX Controller, six hex standoffs for mounting, and a mounting strap.
Moultrie put a lot of features in a small package and at an affordable price with their new 5MP Game Spy M-80XT Mini ($149.99) and 6MP Game Spy M-100 Mini ($199.99) infrared cameras. Both feature Moultrie’s new Illumi-Night Sensor that, when combined with a 60' flash, produce brighter, clearer nighttime infrared pictures. Meanwhile, widescreen images and videos in 16:9 format provide a wider field of view than standard game cameras. Moultrie also incorporated their new Plot Stalker technology, allowing you to choose between an IR-triggered camera, time-lapse plot camera, or a plot camera by day and IR camera at night. In Plot Stalker Time-Lapse Mode, the M-80XT and M-100 can take up to 3,600 images in a day, and Plot Stalker software stitches images into a high-definition video, making it easy to view a full day’s activity in minutes. The M-80XT has a FastFire mode for capturing three pictures per second and Motion Freeze technology that eliminates infrared nighttime blur. The M-100 also includes digital zoom (three settings), 2" LCD viewing screen, barometric pressure reading, password security, and Realtree APG camouflage. Both cameras can run on either four or eight AA batteries, include a battery-life calculator, and an external power port allows for the addition of Moultrie’s PowerPanel to extend battery life indefinitely.
Primos expanded their line with four new cameras with an array of various features like simple Flip The Switch turn on, AntiBlurr photo capture technology, 1-second trigger speed and silent operation. The Truth Cam 35 Ultra ($144.99) has 35 LEDs and a 40' range, the 46 Ultra ($169.99) has 60 LEDs and a 55' range. The Ultra Blackout ($229.99) boasts an undetectable IR flash and the Super Model Ultra ($249.99) takes both photos and video and converts into a handheld viewer. With all these cameras you can select from multiple modes including photo, video, time-lapse, and time-lapse by day/photo at night. Generous LED banks allow excellent illumination, and photo quality ranges from 3MP to 7MP depending on model. The options are many, so study these cameras carefully.
The Reconyx HC600 HyperFire High Output Covert IR scouting camera ($549.99) could be considered the Mercedes-Benz of trail cameras. This camera features No-Glow High Output Infrared Technology that is invisible to game animals and reaches out 50' into the darkness. A trigger speed of 1⁄5 of a second should eliminate those hindquarter images captured by slower cameras. Color daytime images and black-and-white nighttime images are taken in 1080P High Definition resolution at RapidFire Near-Video speeds of up to two frames per second. Images are stamped with time, date, temperature, and moon phase. Twelve AA batteries will keep this camera on guard for up to a full year, and a full list of programming features includes time-lapse surveillance and scheduling.
Stealth Cam has several new models loaded with features. Exclusive TRIAD technology incorporates video, still imagery and time-lapse into one package, allowing you to record video and audio in various time increments and still images in different resolutions. Burst Mode captures 1-9 images — stamped with time, date, moon phase and temperature — per triggering. An external LCD status display lets you quickly identify and select the modes of operation. The ultra-compact CORE ($119.99) has 3MP resolution with two settings, 40 IR emitters, a durable weatherproof 3-D digital camo housing, and includes Stealth Cam’s image scan time-lapse software. The UNIT OPS (169.99) and Sniper Shadow ($199.99) have 8MP resolution with three settings, 2X/4X digital zoom, and video output. Black NoGlo IR emitters reach out to 50', capturing wildlife activity without spooking game, and an IR 38/30 control switch enables the user to adjust light output to specific scouting scenarios where more or less light intensity may be needed.
Wildgame Innovations' Elite LightsOut cameras feature invisible LightsOut LED infrared technology, 1-second trigger speed, Flextime time-lapse, and Redux Anti-Blur technology. They’re equipped with a full-color TFT screen for instant image viewing and easy camera setup, a 16:9 wide-angle lens — for capturing shots in tight places — and are adjustable to fit any tree. With a 60-piece Invisible LightsOut LED Infrared Flash, the Elite 8 ($199.99) captures 8MP images out to 70' while the Elite 5 ($149.99) uses 48 IR emitters rated to 60'. Both can also record 30-second video clips with full audio capability.