Protect your Game Camera against Thieves & Bears
No doubt, game cameras are the biggest advancement in scouting in the last 100 years. There is no other way to actually see what’s happening at your hunting spot when you’re not there. The use of a game camera will surprise you, amaze you and super-charge your hunting enthusiasm. However, depending on where you mount your game camera, there are two potential problems: thieves and bears. The good news is that there are solutions.
First, keep your camera well hidden. Walk through the area you’re planning on mounting it and mentally note every spot that naturally draws your eyes. Don’t place your camera in any of these spots, and never place one in view of a road. If your eyes are naturally drawn to the locations, thieves’ eyes will also.
Simply keep your cameras out of the obvious areas, even on private land. It is very tempting, and easy, to follow a deer trail from the fence or road and place a camera on it. You want to know what’s using that trail, especially if it’s one of those “worn down to the mud” trails. But, if you notice it, you can bet others will, too. A better place for a camera may be on a secondary trail.
As all too many hunters have learned, bears are tough on game cameras. Hunters head back afield - filled with anticipation of the pictures of big bucks and bears they are about to see. Only to find a crunched, bitten and destroyed camera full of teeth marks.
Jeff Folsom, publisher of Bear Hunting Magazine, experienced his bear problem with the very first cameras he ever set up. “I put them out and the bears would just take a chunk out of them,” he said. “I’ve had lots of cameras and lots of damage.”
Folsom is not alone. Jim Satorius, sales and marketing representative for Whitetails Unlimited magazine, found his camera lying on the ground after it had rained for three solid days! Satorius was testing a variety of cameras in east-central Wisconsin to gather information for a story in the magazine. “I put it up along a creek bottom to get pictures of deer,” he said. “Actually it was right under one of my treestands.” A bear evidently smelled the human odor left on the camera and took offense. In fact, it was only hours after setting the camera, a Game Spy I-60, that the bear swatted it off the tree. Satorius later viewed a picture of the bear’s paw swinging past the camera.
“I think I was lucky, he hit it so hard it busted the brackets on the back,” he said. “He quickly tired of it after it was off the tree. It’s one of the biggest bears in the area, between 400 and 500 pounds. I’ve never had a problem with the camera other than that. It’s been one of the most successful cameras I’ve used and the battery life is great.”
Folsom agrees with the human odor theory. “I started wearing rubber gloves and wiping my cameras down with rubbing alcohol when I put them up and anytime I checked them,” he said. “It cut down my problems, but it didn’t cure them.”
Living in northern Minnesota, Travis Eatros has also had bear problems in the past, and sent a picture of a giant black bear to Moultrie. “My first camera was ripped off the tree, chewed on and broken,” he said. “I do not use any scent control, and am sure that’s the problem because it has happened more than once.”
Curiously, it hasn’t happened to any of his infrared cameras, and he believes that bears more than deer hate the white flash of a traditional camera. He knows that even with the potential problems, cameras are important in bear hunting. “Cameras are the second most important tool, next to bait,” he said.
It’s not just black bears that possess a tendency to munch down on game cameras, as Trevor Smith and his hunting partner discovered while on an elk hunting trip in the Grande Cache, Alberta, Canada area. “We came across a set of moose antlers buried in the dirt,” Trevor said in his email. “Being the curious types, we decided to set up [my hunting partner’s] Moultrie trail camera to see what may be in the area.”
The pair’s curiosity was certainly satiated when they returned to pick up the camera; it was nowhere to be found. “After a little looking we discovered it buried in the same spot as the previously mentioned antlers. We were amazed to see the 20-plus pictures of a grizzly bear less than 2 kilometers from camp.”
To protect your camera from bears, elk and other animals, don’t forget to wipe it down with a scent eliminator. Using an infrared camera may also cut down on curious camera predators.
One way to thwart bears and camera thieves alike is with a Moultrie Camera Security Box. The Camera Security Box is a heavy-duty box that holds nearly any company’s game spy camera and prevents camera damage. This 18-gauge, powder-coated steel box actually screws into the tree. It includes a 48-inch plastic coated, steel-braided security cable that wraps around the tree and is secured with a brass padlock. This is one tough barrier to both bears and people with bad intentions!
Game cameras are wonders of our era. The whole family gets into seeing what the camera captures. Just make sure someone else – or a bear – doesn’t capture your camera.