May 18, 2011
Trail Camera Warm Up
By Scott Bestul
It’s a month or so until I get serious about setting trail cams for deer. But doggone it, I just like playing with the things. So when my kids started feeding birds on our deck this week (one of those projects that starts due to something they read in 6th grade science class), I dust off a trail camera and eventually took these pictures.
There are a surprising number of parallels between shooting an oriole and snapping a whitetail’s photo. Of course you have to place the camera in a spot where the animal appears with some regularity; the kids had that covered with their bait pile of grape jelly, raisins, and diced oranges. Then you have to mount the camera correctly; an old tripod with a screw-mount adapter was a perfect substitute for a tree. Finally I had to choose the right camera for the job; I opted for my Bushnell, as I knew it had a sensitive trigger that could capture some interesting oriole behavior.
The real fun came in refining my setup. I’d sit inside, wait for the birds to feed and leave, then go out and pull the memory card and check the photos. My first setup I’d placed the tripod too far from the food and I decided that, unlike deer, orioles probably wouldn’t mind a camera in their face as they fed. The second set of photos was better, but the camera was slightly too high. Now I’m monkeying with the perfect placement for capturing morning and evening light, which should highlight the plumage of these gorgeous birds.
I know what some of you are thinking. If I was a true avian photographer, I wouldn’t rely on technology to get me close to my quarry. I’d be out there burning boot leather, scouting for the perfect spot for my blind, relying on my ability to read sign and bird behavior in order to capture the perfect picture, preferably with an old fashioned single-lens-reflex Nikon. But what can I say? I’m just a lazy modern hunter, looking for every shortcut I can find...and having a lot fun in the process.