Trail cameras, also commonly known as game cameras, have a wide variety of uses. Hunters use them to watch their hunting grounds, nature enthusiasts use them to study animal behavior, and homeowners use them for security around their property. Most trail cameras come equipped with night vision and infrared flash, too, so your gear can maintain a low profile. Which brings us to the point of this article. If you have an expensive camera for surveillance or hunting, you don’t want to either scare away your subject by being intrusive or have your camera stand out to potential trespassers or thieves. Fortunately, we’ve culled together some tips on the best ways to hide your trail camera so you can protect your investment and maintain uninterrupted recording.
Since most adults range from 5 to 6 feet in height, you should consider this the no-zone for mounting your trail camera. To keep your camera out of sight, mount it high enough that the casual passersby won’t see it. If possible, use a ladder to place your camera in a place that a thief can’t easily reach. Ten feet is a reasonable height, and as a bonus, it will increase your camera’s field of view. It’s also a good idea to use a bracket when mounting your camera. Anything that requires tools to disassemble it will deter theft.
Placing a trail camera out of reach is helpful, but it’s also a good idea to disguise the camera in some way. An invisible camera is a safe camera. A birdhouse is a great way to hide a camera on your property, as you can easily conceal the camera body and place the lens so that it peers out of the birdhouse’s entrance hole. Natural camouflage is another good option. Some trail cameras come with camo print on the housing, but you can add to this by securing leaves, twigs, or other natural material to the device (plastic plants are a great option, too, since they maintain their color). Keeping a camera nestled in foliage or a bush can be helpful, too. Just keep in mind that plants grow and move, and they may end up blocking your camera’s view. Even a slight blockage can change the camera’s focus and blur out the area you’re trying to see.
Metal enclosures are another great way to keep your camera secure. While they may stand out more than a camouflaged camera, a reinforced and padlocked box will easily deter theft, especially out in the woods where people are less likely to be carrying bolt cutters or other tools. We recommend the Stealth Cam PX Series Security Bear Box. It has an earthy tone to keep it inconspicuous, it’s made of thick steel, and you can use cables or bolts to secure it to a tree.
While this may seem counter-intuitive for a trail camera, keeping them away from trails and other high-traffic areas is another good way to keep them well hidden. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your camera to watch these areas. You’ll just want to set them back enough that they’re not in direct eyesight from the trail. Keep in mind that your footprints could be a dead giveaway, too. If you need to traipse through mud to adjust your camera, people are likely to see your footprints leading right up to it. Choose a spot with a dense carpet of pine needles, leaves, grass, or other footprint concealers.
This may seem obvious, but many cameras have LED indicator lights or a flash that will act like a huge beacon revealing your device. If you need a flash, use a camera with invisible infrared light, and always avoid any cameras with a steady-on light of any kind. Search for trail cameras marketed as “No Glow” for best results. Another light issue to consider is lens glare. Be sure to place your camera in a place that you won’t get any refraction bouncing off the lens. Even the smallest glint can attract attention to your hidden camera.
Hiding a trail or game camera isn’t difficult, it just requires some premeditated strategy. If you follow our tips above, you can rest assured your camera will be much more difficult to spot, which will keep your investment protected. Remember to keep your camera high, keep it disguised, and try to get creative about where you mount it.
Looking for a new trail camera? We recently compiled a list of our favorite budget trail cameras.
Header image credit: Todd Cromar, Hill Air Force Base
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