You invested a lot of money in a good trail camera, hoping it could help you harvest during the season. But when you leave it in the field for a while, you suddenly find it's missing, along with your data of deers. Though angry, you still have nothing to do but start over again.
Many hunters may have such a bad experience. To prevent this situation happen to you, we've listed several useful tips about how to keep your trail camera more secure.
9 Tips to Prevent Trail Camera Theft
1. Lock Your Trail Camera
The most simple way to protect your trail camera is to lock it up so that it won't be easily taken away by anyone passing by. There are already many tools for hunters to lock their trail cameras.
A python or cable lock is the most common choice. Such a lock cinches through your trail camera tightly onto the tree. Many hunters have chosen a python lock because it's flexible and easy to use. You can make it fit the form of any kind of tree, and most importantly, it holds the camera tightly on the tree and leave no chance for a thief to cut around the cable.
A lock box is also a good choice to keep your camera secure inside. It's usually provided by the manufacturers and fits their trail cameras perfectly. The box can protect your trail camera from being broken by curious animals as well as humans with bad intentions. Opportunistic thieves will be deterred because getting the camera out of the box costs so much time and effort.
If you have enough budget, I'll recommend you try both. When you combine the anti-cut python lock with a lock box, you can prevent most people from taking your camera away.
2. Put Your Trail Camera High
Place your trail camera high on the tree is another easy but useful way to prevent theft.
You can hang the trail camera about 10 feet high in the tree and angle it downward to catch wildlife. This height can keep your trail camera out of reach from most animals or humans. Unless the thief brings a ladder with him, he won't try to climb so high before broking the lock and getting your trail camera.
Another goodness of keeping your trail camera high is that it can stay out of sight of people. This will greatly reduce the chance of its being found or stolen because most people focus on the ground or things below eye level while walking in the woods.
There are several tools you may need to put your trail camera high, including screw-in steps, climbing sticks, simple ladders with straps, and so on. You can also find tutorial videos on social media as many hunters have shared how they put a trail camera on a tree.
What is a wildlife camera?
The wildlife camera, or trail camera, is a device designed for filming and photographing animals outdoors. When an animal passes by, it begins filming or photographing immediately. In some models, you can download the files wirelessly over Wi-Fi, while others allow you to save the images to a memory card that can be inserted into your computer.
3. Hide Your Camera
Besides just hanging the trail camera high, smart hunters will use many other ways to hide their cameras, making them hard to be found for trespassers.
Even though most trail cameras are camouflaged, sometimes it doesn't blend perfectly where you're gonna use them. But before you get started, you'd better find a good place to place the trail camera. Avoiding obvious or popular places will reduce the risk of your camera being easily found.
The next step is to full camouflage your trail camera. You can paint the camera with a color that is closer to the tree you choose. Using emulated tree bark, leaves, and twigs to decorate the camera really helps a lot. All the stuff with some glue can even make the camera "disappear" in the woods.
Don't ignore the surroundings. You can make full use of natural features like terrain and vegetation. Care more about your surroundings and you'll know how to conceal your trail camera better.
Above are common tricks that guide you to hide the trail camera. Here are 14 ways to hide a trail camera from humans, including step-by-step guidance to help you do perfect camouflage work. Read this article you'll find so many methods and step-by-step guidance to help you do perfect camouflage work.
4. Remove the Redundant Strap
The strap that comes with the trail camera may become the reason why a theft happens. Although it's designed to tighten the camera on the tree, it gets too long and sways in the wind to attract everyone passing by.
Now it's time to remove these redundant straps to keep your camera secure.
After you tighten the camera on the tree, you can directly cut the redundant part of its strap, or wrap the excess strap tightly around the tree, making sure it doesn't hang in the air to get attention. To further camouflage your trail camera, you can also paint the strap to make it less contrast against the tree bark.
Many hunters won't use the manufacturer's strap at all because it's obvious and easy to cut off. Instead, they would use a bracket or mount which is tough enough and less visible.
5. Set A Decoy Camera
If trail camera theft is common in your hunting area, you can set up a decoy camera to eliminate your worries. This approach may help catch the thief in the act.
What you need to do is to prepare a camera that is out of the use or buy a cheap one as a decoy. Set the decoy camera in a visible and accessible place. You can pretend that it's being used to monitor animals in case potential thieves figure out it's fake.
Then hide your real trail camera nearby and make it point down at the decoy camera. In this way, your trail camera is less likely to be found and anyone who tries to steal your thing will be captured clearly.
6. Mind Your Tracks
One thing people tend to ignore is that their traces may lead thieves to their trail cameras.
You may go back to your camera periodically to check the data on the SD card. But when you put the camera back and leave, you don't notice that your tracks may show a clear way to others, which happens a lot on a snow day.
Now you know it's important to mind your tracks. Especially when there is snow on the ground or when there is wet mud, you should remember to deal with your tracks. If possible, you can cover them with branches or leaves and make the field as natural as no one comes.
If it's hard to cover your tracks, we recommend you to go there on a sunny day or rainy day when your tracks can be washed away by rain.
Besides dealing with your tracks, you should also make sure there is nothing noticeable around your camera. Leave everything as natural as possible.
7. Make Your Mark
Writing your name and phone number on your trail camera is a useful way to deter trespassers.
The personal information shows clearly that the camera is your property and may help you find it back again if it's lost. If your stolen camera is sold again, people who get it might connect you and return it to you.
Some wise men shared their tricks. Besides name and phone number, they write such words as "This is a property of xxx wild research institutes. Do Not Move." In this way, the thief won't dare to steal the camera.
This method may not be as effective as using other tools to protect the camera, but it can be used as an aid. When you receive a phone call from someone who has your camera, you'll feel glad you do this.
8. Choose Trails Cameras with GPS
Some trail cameras have a GPS unit built-in. With it, you don't have to worry about losing your camera anymore.
The GPS function allows you to track your camera anytime on the App (usually the manufacturer's App), so you'll know whether it's there or taken away. For some GPS trail cameras, you will get an alert if the camera is moved and catch the thief as soon as possible by following the camera's location.
9. Choose Cellular Trail Cameras
Another way to reduce the loss of a trail camera theft is to save the data in another place.
In the past, people have to go back to the field and retrieve the SD card inside their trail cameras for the data of deers or bucks. The process takes them a lot of time and effort. Furthermore, once the camera is stolen or broken, all the data is also gone.
But now things get better. Cellular trail cameras are becoming popular as they can send images directly to your devices or be stored safely via cloud storage. You can monitor animals without going to the woods and thus avoid leaving scents there.
Cellular trail cameras work by using a cell network to send data. The camera has a SIM card, which is connected to a cell network.
Check how do cellular trail cameras work by click here.
More importantly, even if your camera gets stolen you won't lose all the data anymore. Also, the person who attempts to steal the camera can be captured and the image sent to your phone can be used as solid evidence.
One thing to mind is that cellular trail cameras are relatively more expensive than traditional trail cameras and you need to pay extra money on a data plan. So this approach suits those who are willing to invest in a good trail camera.
What to Do If Your Trail Camera Got Stolen
All the tips and hacks above are used to prevent trail camera theft. We cannot guarantee that your trail camera will never be stolen, as some persevering thieves will use various methods and tools to steal your device.
So what to do if your trail camera gets stolen?
Track with GPS. If your trail camera has a GPS tracker with it, you can easily find its location even after the thief takes it away. At the same time, you can call the police to help you get your trail camera back.
Report It to the Authorities. Asking the police or your local game warden to help you can be effective. They have handled many of these things. Remember to present them as many clues as possible: the outlook of your trail camera, your mark on it, and pictures of the thief (it helps a lot if your camera captures any picture of what the guy looks like).
Use Social Media. You can also post the information on social media such as Facebook and ask other people for help. If anyone has seen your camera or identified the thief, he or she will be glad to provide any useful information. Or if the thief sees your post and knows you report it to the police, maybe he'll return it to you.
Trail cameras are becoming indispensable equipments of many hunters. But no one knows whether a trail camera theft would happen to him. What we can do is trying our best to protect our property.
The tips mentioned above are summed up from the experience for numerous people, who have tried these ways and found them really helpful. Even though no method is totally thief-proof, they do reduce the chances of your camera being stolen. So, you'd better keep the tips in mind and try different ways. It is better to take prevention and keep your trail camera safe than be sorry later.