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Storing Your Trail Cameras & Organizing Photos

If you choose to pull your trail cameras over the winter — and you certainly don't have to — here are a few off-season maintenance and storage tips.

Storing Your Trail Cameras & Organizing Photos

Ask Bowhunter

I’ve accumulated a pretty good arsenal of trail cameras, and I’m wondering if you have any tips on storage and keeping my photos organized? — Troy Gerber, via e-mail


The number-one threat to the health of your array of trail cameras is leaking batteries. All batteries can leak potassium hydroxide which, if left unchecked, can destroy the electronics in your camera. This can happen whether your camera is on a tree and switched on, or sitting on the shelf turned off.

If you discover corrosion in the battery compartment, all is not lost. If the corrosion has not penetrated the electronics, it is possible to repair the damage. But first, the corrosion can be harmful to your skin and eyes, so wear latex gloves and safety glasses, and properly dispose of the leaking batteries. Next, use a brush of some kind, like an old toothbrush, to dislodge the bulk of the corrosive material. Now dip a cotton swab in either vinegar or lemon juice and clean the terminals, then let the device air dry. The acid will neutralize the potassium hydroxide, and if you caught the leak in time, your camera should work fine.

With your batteries and SD card removed, wrap the strap around the camera so it covers the lens and/or IR sensor. This can help prevent scratches or other damage. It’s even a good idea to put each camera in some kind of a soft bag to protect those vital parts during storage.

Running a trail camera “trapline” is a lot of fun but be sure to take good care of your cameras and the memorable images they capture for you.

You may not, however, want to pull all your cameras for winter. “Leaving cameras out over the winter is getting more and more common,” says Tom Rainey of Browning Trail Cameras. “You can never have enough information about your deer herd, so it doesn’t hurt to leave them out, even in the cold. I typically check my cameras between antler drop and turkey season. That way I can look for sheds and scout for turkeys at the same time. I visit each camera, pull the battery trays, and check for leaks. I also carry a can of compressed air in my pack so I can blow the lenses clear of dirt, spider webs, or whatever.”

Saving and organizing your trail-camera photos can be a project. Most of us end up with thousands of images, the vast majority of which are does, fawns, raccoons, and other critters that are interesting but not worth saving. The quality and resolution of today’s trail-camera images is very good, so digital storage space can be an issue. You might consider a separate hard drive for your photos. You can also take your photo organization to the next level.

“I create a spreadsheet that shows each camera location,” says Rainey. “I include the model number and even serial number, so I know exactly which camera I’m using where. I also create a folder for each camera. As I go through the memory card, I simply drag and drop each worthy image into the appropriate folder. Another option is to save images according to whatever triggers your interest. Some hunters focus on moon phase, some on barometric pressure, and others on temperature. You can organize each of your images according to those environmental conditions to see if patterns develop over the seasons.”

You might also want to organize your images of a specific animal, or even time of day. This can get complex if you’re doing it yourself. If you’re seriously into trail cameras, a quick search of the Internet for trail-camera organization software will give you some great options.

Running trail cameras can be a lot of fun, and even addictive. If you take good care of your cameras and organize the images, you’ll be making the most of your investment.

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