How to Hide a Trail Camera from Humans
I think it is important to protect the time and effort I put into game cameras. I hunt public land with lots of other hunters, and a few thieves. I am not alone though. Private land hunters and homeowners can run into problems with thieves stealing their trail cameras as well. I have complied some tips and tricks to make sure your game and trail cameras are a little more inconspicuous and less likely to get picked off this season.
Thinking theft prevention should start as early as when you are in the market for a new camera. I have included information on things to look for when making new purchases along with ways to help hide your existing cameras.
Size and Shape
For the best camouflage effect, find a compact, odd shaped trail camera. Larger square cameras are extremely easy for people to spot. Remember smaller is better. With ever evolving technology cameras are getting smaller and smaller, which works great for folks trying to hide cameras. A smaller camera will increase the choice of trees you can put it on and help prevent it from standing out. Overall, a smaller camera will have less of a profile to stand out and catch someone’s eye.
Just like the straight line of a deer’s back can catch a hunter’s eye through a thicket, lines of a camera will stand out to others traveling along the trail. Thankfully, newer cameras are also evolving with molded textures and odd shapes. This helps to break up their outline and blend them into the natural landscape.
Older model cameras like this were larger and more difficult to hide.
Where and how to hide your trail camera
It may seem obvious but, location selection is a critical step in creating an inconspicuous site for your trail cam. At times you may have to sacrifice a prime game location because it lacks the essential qualities needed to hide your camera. When setting up cameras for whitetail I start in areas I have found the most sign in. I like to find the best set up to capture pictures of bucks in the area, for example, a scrape line. If I cannot find an opportune camera location in the prime spot I will head up or down the trail until I find a spot where my camera will blend in.
Cameras hide best on trees wider than they are, with brush, a hill, or something behind the camera to mask their profile. The objective is to find an area that is already visually busy to the human eye and adding your camera becomes a natural part of the area.
Trail Camera Height
Another great way to avoid theft is mounting your trail camera out of a thief’s visual field and higher than their arm’s reach. This can be achieved easily by packing one or two climbing sticks to get up a tree. This will also require a screw in mounting bracket for the proper angle.
Camouflaging a Trail Camera
One of the simplest methods to ensure your camera stays hidden from others is good ole camouflage. Many of today’s game cameras come with some type of camouflage pattern, but for those that don’t you can quickly and easily add your own.
There are many effective ways to disguise a trail camera.
Methods I have tried so far were, camouflage spray paint with homemade stencils and camouflage duct tape. I am not a big fan of dealing with sticky edges of tape, so I prefer spraying cameras that need camouflaging.
When creating stencils, I used poster board or cardboard and cut out leaf and twig shapes with a razor knife. All you need are a few colors of camo spray paint to get some contrast. You must cover lens and sensor areas to ensure proper functioning when complete. It does not have to look like store bought camouflage to be effective, it just has to break up the solid outline of the camera. If you are not into cutting out patterns and spray-painting, camo tape maybe a better option.
Camo tape is effective and easy to apply. All you need is camo duct tape and a razor knife or scissors. Cover the camera completely while making sure you are able to open it and the lens and sensors are not affected by tape.
Some folks glue bark or leaves to their cameras for a more realistic look. Others use plastic leaves and brush from the floral department to add cover. One thing to consider when doing this is making sure the fake leaves match the season and color you are placing them in or you could be doing more harm than good.
Cambush Camo is a product I recently came across. It looks like a great 3D option to conceal your camera. This product adheres to any trail camera and creates great cover with little effort. Only thing needed for application is scissors. It is made to blend in with a multitude of environments and created to withstand the elements of nature.
Hide the trail camera strap
The stock camera strap adds an unnatural bold line in nature creating an unnecessary eye catcher for potential thieves. To make matters worse some brands use a solid black strap that really stands out against most tree trunks. Brown or Green straps can help but best practice would be ditching the stock strap all together. Straps can be easily replaced with braided fishing line, piano wire, or any other type of tie wire you may have laying around.
While the camo pattern on this camera helps it blend in, the black strap stands out significantly on this pine tree, and will stand out even more on some lighter barked trees.
Lighting can play against us when trying to hide trial cameras. You need to avoid any glare. Potential sunlight can reflect from the clear lens cover and shine brightly to thieves giving away even the best camouflaged cameras location. The goal here is to try and keep your camera in a well shaded area.
Trail camera height
One of the best ways to avoid theft is getting your camera up high. You get two benefits by putting your camera up high, getting it out of sight and out of reach. Packing one or two climbing sticks can easily get your camera up high enough to put it out of line of sight. In order to get the needed angle you'll likely need a
Cover any lights
Most cameras now are going away from the blinking lights that are often illuminated when the sensor is triggered. If you still have one that does, cover it up with a small piece of duct tape.
Don't hide your trail camera in a bird house! Well, maybe...
Unless your trying to hide a camera around your home or the area your putting out cameras already has several bird houses, don't try and hide it here. A bird house, low to the ground in the woods on a deer trail will look unnatural and probably draw attention to it. Now if your trying to catch intruders in your backyard, it could be an excellent hiding spot.
If camouflage and camera placement hasn't prevented someone from finding your camera, you have one last line of defense to help prevent someone from making your camera their own. Used in conjunction with a GPS tracking device or as a standalone warning sticker, the TrailCam shield can help give thieves enough doubt to leave your camera alone. It's called deterrence theory, if you can increase the perception of getting caught, you decrease the likelihood of theft. Read more on it at their blog at https://sportsmansshield.com/blogs/theft-prevention.
For the price, basically a few bucks a camera, it's an affordable way to add another level of protection.
Do you have a tip for hiding or preventing your trail cameras from getting stolen? Let us know in the comments section.