Running trail cameras can no doubt be one of the most exciting things to do as a whitetail hunter. The feeling of inserting an SD card into a computer and anxiously waiting for the card to load so you can start flipping through photos is almost as good as the feeling of seeing a big buck headed your way while in a treestand. It’s often described as better than Christmas. Partially because of this, it can be easy to run a lot of trail cameras. Trail cams have their place when it comes to deer hunting and can be very beneficial to you in terms of helping you be a successful hunter.
The question that always seems to arise when discussing the aspect of using trail cameras is how many should you be using? Some hunters don’t like to use trail cameras at all, and some run them religiously. When it comes to how many you should be running, it’s not a black and white answer, but more doesn’t always equal better. It’s very dependent on how much hunting property you own or have access on, and what you can handle. That may be five trail cameras, it might be twenty spread across multiple states, or it could be seventy on a large farm.
Below are a few points outlined that can be a product of running too many trail cameras. If you find yourself in any of these predicaments, odds are you’ve bitten off more than you can chew when it comes to trail cameras. So, take a look at these points and ask yourself if you’ve found yourself in any of these scenarios.
There Isn’t Time For Other Projects
If you get to a point where you find yourself not being able to complete other whitetail projects because you spend too much time heading afield to swap SD cards, it may be time to consider how many you are running. There’s a lot that needs to get done in the whitetail woods throughout the entire year and if you start putting things on the backburner or find yourself not completing what you want to get done during a day or a weekend of whitetail work because of having too many trail cameras to check, that can signify you simply have too many. If you get to this point, take a look at how many you are running, and what you’d be able to get done if you cut the number of trail cams you have in the field.
You Can’t Stay Organized
When you start running a lot of trail cameras, things can start to get hectic when it comes to staying organized. There’s a lot of other stuff that goes into it that one may not worry about when only running a few cams. But when you start to run a big number of cameras, there’s a lot of batteries, SD cards and trail camera maintenance that you have to worry about. When you run a couple, it may not seem like a big deal, but when all of a sudden you have thirty cameras, it can be very challenging to keep all of this organized. It can be a good idea to label SD cards for specific cameras, create spreadsheets on where your cameras are and to number each trail camera. This can help, but when you get to a point where you’ve simply got too many and can’t stay organized, or forget about cameras, you’ve got too many.
You’re Always “Behind”
This is a big indicator of running too many trail cameras. When you run a large number of cameras, a lot of times you end up relying on the information they provide during the season by default. When you have a large fleet of trail cameras out and find yourself not hunting areas during the season unless you check a camera that has a shooter on it, this can put you into dangerous waters and often times lead you to chasing your tail. A scenario would be you check five cameras in a day in the middle of October, and on one of them over a bean field, you have a shooter that showed up five days ago. Because that’s the only camera you had a shooter show up, you hunt there and don’t see him. Well, that buck could have easily shifted food sources in those five days, and you should be scouting for the hot food source, not just checking trail cameras. If you find yourself doing this too much, it might be time to reduce how many cameras you’re running.
So How Many is Too Many?
Well, that is dependent on you and you only. What it comes down to is are you able to stay organized, can you still get everything else done that you need to and are you not chasing your tail because of trail cameras? For some people, they might be able to run thirty trail cameras on a large farm and be able to still hunt effectively while keeping all of their trail camera data organized. If you hunt multiple states, this might mean you can only keep track of a couple in the out of state areas.
At the end of the day, trail cameras are meant to be a tool to help you succeed at deer hunting. When you use them properly, they can most definitely provide you with information to make you a better hunter. But when trail cameras become relied upon, or when hunters get ahead of themselves and run too many, it can detract from other things that you need to do in order to be a successful hunter. If you get to a point where trail cameras take away from these other things or create stress because you can’t keep up with them all or stay organized, then it’s time to consider reducing the number of trail cameras you have in the field.