Q: How do you get such interesting images?
A:  I try to be creative and set up my cameras in areas that may be frequented by a variety of wildlife.  Game trails are a good location to start.

Q: What is your primary target?
A: I have to admit that my main target is whitetail deer, but I have found it quite challenging to capture images of a variety of creatures that inhabit our property.  Birds of prey are very interesting, but other predators are extremely challenging, like fisher, fox, and coyote.

Q: Any suggestions for the beginner?
A:  Set-up your cameras in a variety of areas then stay away for a couple of weeks.  As you advance, you will determine the best areas for capturing images.  The better you can read “sign” from wildlife, the better you will be able to take that special picture.  Consider the angle of the camera lens.  You may need to assume the direction that wildlife will travel past the camera.

Q: What is the best angle or height for your camera?
A: As your skills advance, try different locations, heights and angles.  For deer, begin with a height between 2 and 3 feet from the ground.  Try to keep your camera angle from looking directly into the sun.  Some images might end up being unique, but your percentage of success will decrease.  I typically default to camera angles with a northern bias.

Q: Let’s talk about some set-up techniques.
A: When you set-up your camera first consider the subject you might capture and the distance from the camera.  I like to plan to take photos from 10 – 20 feet away.  You also want to consider the background of your shot, so think about the subject of the photo then how the background will help frame the shot.  It is similar to being on vacation and someone takes a picture of you in front of a special place.  Just visualize the shot before you take it.

Q: What type of cameras do you use?
A: Because I use my images commercially and as artwork, I only use flash style cameras.  I want color photographs at night.  If you only want to scout for deer, infrared style cameras work just fine.  Some manufactures make an invisible flash but I don’t use these.

Q: Any tools required?
A: Your camera needs to be mounted securely.  I may use a screw or fastener provided by the manufacturer. I carry the proper sized screwdriver, any time I am in the woods, in case I need to move the camera, also batteries and extra memory cards.

Q: Any other pointers for beginners?
A:  When you set up a new camera location, consider the image you will capture.  Are there obstacles to a good shot?  Remove vegetation that might block your view and diminish from the best picture.  This is probably the most common mistake made.  Carry something with you so you can clip a branch or cut weeds.  Here’s an advanced idea – if you set-up your camera early in the spring, and the camera is going to be there for a number of weeks, give some thought to the growth of vegetation because your camera view may be blocked when you return.

Q: Any advanced ideas for set-up?
A: The use of a higher grade battery pays off.   You will not have to visit as often and leave human scent at that location.   Always consider the human scent factor.  Travel to and from your camera locations to minimize your scent the best you can.

Q: Final thoughts?
A: Don’t be afraid to experiment.  I learned by trial and error, the more mistakes you make the smarter you get.  You can’t control the weather and weather conditions can alter some images but it can also enhance the shot.  I have taken some pretty neat pictures in the middle of a snow storm.  Rain, on the other hand, limits your options and decreases image quality.

Expect to practice your trail cam hobby for 2 to 3 years before you can get good at it.  You will learn from every new set of images.  The harder you work at this the luckier you will get.

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