Andrew West teaches us step by step on how to use a Trapping Trail cam.
He talks about what settings he uses and how he sets up his game cam and other
equipment in order to get great shots of wildlife. Since many of the shots are at night,
Andrew tells us how to set up additional lighting.
Trail Camera Trapping in the Everglades
with Andrew West
Setting Up a Trail Camera or Camera Trap
Game trails are paths that animals travel to get through their environment as they search for food and water. A trail cam can be set up along a path with a motion sensor to capture images of elusive or nocturnal animals
Research is Important
What type of camera to use.
What type of sensor and lighting will work best for you.
What animals you hope to capture.
– What are their habits?
– Where are they located?
Ask local Land Management officials, cattle farmers, or biologists where to locate game trails and where best to set up a camera.
Ask permission from the landowner to set up cameras. You may need a permit for State lands.
Equipment and Set-Up
Check out Camtraptions.com for gear.
Andrew uses an old Canon 7D crop camera with a 16-35mm lens set at 16 for a wide shot.
– Focus manually on the spot where the animal is predicted to be.
– Andrew sets up at ISO 800, 1/250 sec, f/8 (for the uncertain depth of field).
Weatherproof housing is used to protect all gear.
– Most place the camera in metal housing specific for game cams. Some housing can be a DIY project with modified plastic cases (Pelican).
– Plastic bags can be used to protect external lights, flashes, and sensors.
A motion sensor is placed below or on the ground next to the camera.
– Figure out where the animal is going to be relative to the sensor.
– Placement of the sensor may be specific for the type of animal you want to capture. (more research!)
– Check sensitivity settings to help time when to trigger the camera.
One off-camera flash is connected to the camera with a TTL cable.
A second flash is set up through a remote system and is optically slaved to the first flash.
– Lights are placed on small stands or banded to a tree at about eye level of the animal you wish to capture.
– Lights are what take the most time to set up properly, there is a lot of trial and error.
“Sometimes you have to be the animal to catch the animal.”
-You may have to crawl on the ground and trigger the sensor and lights yourself to make sure things are set properly.
Checking the Camera
Plan to return to your gear to change batteries and memory cards every 2-3 days to 1 week, depending on the battery life of your equipment.
A 32G memory card will fill up in about a week.
There are LOTS of misses. You may get 1,000 bad images for every 1 good shot.
– Rear ends of animals walking in the opposite direction.
– Black frames where the lights didn’t function.
– Windblown objects or even rain from a storm.
Scroll through your images and make any necessary adjustments to your placement or settings of sensors and lights.
Try not to get too frustrated!
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