August 10, 2009
By Scott Bestul
I have a buddy who hates trail cameras. His main beef? He feels the flash and/or sound of the camera spooks the very deer he’s trying to scout. I’ve seen enough photos of bucks looking leery of —if not high-tailing it from—a camera to feel there is certainly something to my buddy’s claim. As another camera-phobic pal puts it; “How would you feel if you were taking a night-time stroll and someone shot a strobe at you from 15 feet?”
Naturally, many others view scouting cameras as a valuable tool in their scouting arsenal. They maintain that taking proper scent control measures will help keep deer from getting goosey, and that many, many bucks are not flash-shy at all. Indeed, I have multiple photos of a fine buck I “shot” last year that appeared to enjoy having his picture taken. Even with a one-minute delay between camera triggers, I would often get 3 or 4 pics of him at a single encounter.
Another factor to consider is that many of the newest cameras offer IR (infrared) technology, which softens the flash effect. I’ve used several of these this summer and have two basic operating theories on IR. First, infrared does not seem to alert deer to the degree that conventional flash units do. Second, I do not feel the picture quality is that great with an IR. As with so many things, there is almost always a trade-off.
So what does your experience show? Are you running into camera-shy deer? Do you think the process of setting out and monitoring a scouting camera is detrimental to your hunting efforts? Anxious to hear your thoughts.