Using Muddy Trail Cameras to Spy on Mature Gobblers
Muddy Trail Cameras | Remote Scouting for Spring Turkey Hunting
Wouldn’t it be ideal to have some way of spying on the secret habits of the turkey you intend to hunt, especially when you’re not there to influence his behavior? If you could find out exactly where a dominant tom goes to feed or rest, how much easier would setting up a blind in the right location be? You’re in luck and you probably already own this valuable piece of technology. Trail cameras are often under-utilized for turkeys for some reason. We associate them with spying out big bucks every fall, but usually the cameras don’t make their way back out into the woods until sometime in the summer. This is a critical mistake.
Let’s face it; you probably can’t spend every day in the woods or on the farm actually looking at wildlife. You certainly can’t do it throughout the night time hours. And would you want to sit absolutely still outside when it’s raining or snowing in the spring? Probably not. But a trail camera can accomplish all these things for you. Without trail cameras, you’re missing out on hundreds and even thousands of valuable observation hours that you can then use to pattern a mature gobbler to hunt. Most spring turkey hunting isn’t very mobile. While you can “run and gun” a little, the best strategy is to usually wait in a ground blind and let the turkeys come to your decoys and seductive calls. Because of that, the position of your ground blind is really important. Let’s look at some of the details that go into spying on the birds with your trail cameras.
Best Locations for Turkey Trail Cameras
Think about where you would ideally want to set your ground blind up. Does it make sense that a turkey would wander in front of it? It should or why would you sit there? But a little ground truthing is always a good idea. To be absolutely sure, mount a trail camera to a tree or post to see what kind of action it gets throughout the day. If you have a large field and could use more “eyes” on it, use a dual camera ground mount, which you can set anywhere you want. While you can do this on private property with little fear, take care on public lands to secure your game camera or it could become a victim to thievery.
Some good location options you should target include field edges, forest openings, spring clover food plots, natural pinch points, well-used trails or logging roads, or along ditches and creeks. These areas should naturally gather some turkey traffic since they’ll use open areas for feeding and strutting, and they’ll use trails for getting from a roost to a feeding area and back again. Ideally, you should have a camera on each field or opening on the property so you can see which one draws the most turkeys, especially gobblers. Once you pull your trail camera memory cards, you can then hand pick the best-looking location to hunt after reviewing the trail camera pictures.
The Art of Good Pictures
Speaking of pictures, anyone can slap a trail cam up in a tree and get some pictures. But without some forethought, they can be poor quality or even unusable to a hunter. Sub-par pictures won’t tell us the kind of details we’re interested in finding out when the sun creates a massive blind spot or you have to weed through 2,000 pictures of waving branches before finding 1 actual turkey picture. What makes a good picture, whether it’s on trail cameras or a regular camera? Ideally it should be clear, crisp, and in full color. Blurry, black and white photos that would puzzle Sherlock Holmes won’t do you any good.
So what can you do to ensure your camera takes the best pictures? The first is to know your camera by studying the manual that came with it. While you can capture pictures on any game trail camera, there are certain settings that can drastically improve the quality if you just know how to do it. For example, you can set a camera to photograph the field at set intervals (e.g., every ten minutes) or you can allow it to take pictures only when there’s movement. You can take burst photos to catch fast-moving animals, or you could try videos for a little more detail. The Pro-Cam 12 by Muddy offers all of these features, with amazing 12-megapixel daytime pictures and 1280 x 720 HD videos with sound. If there’s a gobbler in your area, you’ll be watching and listening to him working his hens in no time.
Muddy Trail Cameras | Pro Cam 10 & Pro Cam 12
(Video) – by VantagePoint Outdoors, In this video we take a quick look at the new trail camera lineup from Muddy for 2016 including the Pro Cam 10 and the Pro Cam 12. For more information on these trail cameras and other products from Muddy, join them online at www.gomuddy.com.
As far as placement, there are a few things you can do to really improve the pictures on your trail cameras. First, position your camera so that it faces in a northerly direction (i.e., NW, N, or NE). That will eliminate the sun from creating glare and decreasing the quality of your pictures. Alternatively, find a naturally shady location (e.g. within a pine stand adjacent to a food plot) so that you can face the camera any direction without fear of the sun. You want your trail camera to blend in, but you don’t want it too covered up. Remove any branches of brushy growth from in front or the side of the camera so that you won’t false trigger it repeatedly when the wind blows.
Piecing the Puzzle Together
Once your trail cams are mounted, it’s time to let them do their work. Waiting is admittedly the hardest part because it’s just so tempting to go check after a few days. You might go nuts waiting if the trail cameras are only 200 yards from the house, but it will be much more bearable if your turkey hunting property is a couple hours away. Regardless of location, try to wait at least one week before you venture back out. It really helps to have several cameras to cover the property during that week so you can conduct a rough population estimate. If you notice groups of turkeys at each site within a few minutes of each other, you know they are different turkeys.
How do you make a good choice on where to hunt a spring gobbler, and more specifically, how do you use the information gathered by your game cameras? First, understand that where there are hens, there should be gobblers. If you have a group of hens consistently in a spring clover plot, you should definitely be seeing gobblers or at least a few jakes. They’ll often use these open areas as strut zones, so target a different area if you’re not seeing them on your trail cameras. You can also use the time of day to indicate what the turkeys are doing. For example, if you notice lots of early morning pictures, that site is probably pretty close to a roost tree. If it’s during the middle of the day and you see feeding activity, you’re probably in a solid feeding area. Use the time stamp on the pictures to see when the birds show up, which will tell you how early you need to be set up and ready to hunt. These key details can help you pick a location and get hunting some long beards.
Most people don’t think to use trail cameras for turkeys, so you’ll have a much better chance at harvesting a mature gobbler than any of your friends. If bagging one for yourself isn’t enough motivation, beating your friend should do it.