Mossberg Blog

Using Trail Cameras for Taking Predator Inventory

The deer hunting community has long taken ownership of trail cameras for the scouting of bucks on the farm or hunting club. Sure, you’ll see hunters use these cameras for scouting hogs at feeders, elk at wallows, and maybe even to monitor the turkey population leading up to the spring season.

For the most part, trail cameras are the deer hunter’s tool.

But for many of the same reasons, I’ve come to rely on trail cameras to do much of the dirty work for me when it comes to scouting and taking inventory on predators on the farms that I hunt.

I’ve got a bobcat on my home farm that I’ve never laid eyes on. I honestly wouldn’t know he even existed were it not for a handful of trail camera photos that revealed his existence. My cameras have revealed that the farm holds red fox, gray fox, coyotes, bobcats and more coons than I can count. It’s a very predator-rich environment, to say the least. The trail camera has helped me capitalize on the when and where for hunting these predators at home.

Here’s a look at how trail cameras can help your hunting success when it comes to keeping tabs on the predators on your land.

Predator Hunting: Using Trail Cameras for Taking Predator Inventory
Trail cameras aren’t just for deer hunters anymore! You can gain a lot of valuable information for your next predator hunt with trail cameras. Pictured here is a Stealth Cam trail camera and Mossberg 930 Pistol Grip shotgun.

Timing

The biggest bonus trail cameras provide is the fact that they tell you exactly when a predator is at a particular spot. And like with deer scouting, a consistent pattern of predator activity makes your job as the hunter much easier. Far too often hunters spend wasted hours calling in areas where coyotes simply aren’t there. The camera allows you to know when coyotes are hanging out on your farm. Better cameras on the market stamp the date and time, right down to the minute of when that animal is standing in front of the camera. It’s a huge advantage to helping confirm where you should be calling, as well as the spots you might want to pass on. It can also help you determine whether morning or afternoon calling sets might be more productive.

Predator Hunting: Using Trail Cameras for Taking Predator InventorySome say predators don’t move in the middle of the day, but this trail cam tells a different story when it caught this old mangy coyote at lunch time.

Travel

Trail cameras can also help you decide how predators move about out on a particular farm. Strategically placed cameras will show you how and where predators enter and exit fields, what trails they use the most, and how often they are traveling through a given area. It may take a little maneuvering of your camera to key in on these travel routes, but when you do you’ll quickly discover a wealth of information on how predators travel on your hunting grounds.

Predator Hunting: Using Trail Cameras for Taking Predator InventoryThe trail camera consistently caught this big gray fox coming out of the bottoms into a small food plot right at dark.

Species

A trail camera will quickly show you what species make their home on the property you hunt. You’ll often be surprised as to what you find on camera. I’ve had guys swear up and down there weren’t any bobcats or fox on their property, only to stand corrected when the trail camera revealed a different story. When you know what species inhabit your farm, you’ll be better educated on what calls you need to make in your calling routine. If the potential is there to call up a bobcat, I’ll avoid starting my calling set off with coyote barks and howls. Trail camera inventory can help determine the best predator calling sounds to use.

Predator Hunting: Using Trail Cameras for Taking Predator Inventory
I’ve never laid eyes on this big, muscular bobcat, but the trail camera has continued to show me that he is in fact hanging out on my property.

Strategy

The most recent information (MRI) that trail cameras provide enable you to build a strategy for success. No longer do you have to blindly call on your farms at random. The information gleaned from trail cams can help you lay the ground work for the when, where and why for your calling routine.

Better yet, a growing number of trail cameras on the market today offer cellular service, sending photos directly to your smartphone. This allows you to collect photos as they happen, without ever stepping foot onto the farm. It’s a strategy that eliminates human pressure until the time is right to move in for the kill.

Predator Hunting: Using Trail Cameras for Taking Predator Inventory
Trail cameras help you take inventory on what critters are hanging out on your property as well as develop a strategy for predator calling success.

Don’t overlook trail cameras as a beneficial tool…

For taking inventory on the places you hunt predators, or prospective land that you may be considering as a new possibility for predator calling. The advantages gained by utilizing trail cameras for keeping tabs on your predator population will no doubt put more fur in the back of your truck.

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