Using trail cameras as a scouting tool in preparation for hunting season has become widely popular in recent years. Both hunters and wildlife enthusiasts are setting the nifty devices up to be a 24–hour/7–day a week monitor of what’s happening in the woods and fields wherever wildlife might roam. But did you ever stop to consider there’s another side benefit to the use of a trail camera that perhaps you haven’t yet considered?
Let’s face it…now that summer has officially arrived and the kids are out of school, for most youths there’s not much going on during the next several months in terms of structured learning. All too often today’s kids find themselves INSIDE sitting on the computer or playing video games just to pass the time. What a shame! The summer months are the perfect opportunity to supplement what’s taught in school with some hands-on, out-of-doors learning that can be just as much fun as playing any video game. In fact, to be successful at using a trail camera often takes the same bit of skill and luck found with using a Wii controller or an Xbox joystick.
Recently, I set out with my 12 year old stepson, Luke, to assist him in learning the basics skills required for placing a series of wildlife trail cams on our farm. His motivation is to get dozens of quality deer pictures for a 4–H Wildlife Management project that will be due at the county fair in August. My motivation was for him to get outdoors and begin to thinking about nature year round — and not just in the fall when we go hunting together.
If you’ve never placed a digital scouting camera in the woods you’re missing some real excitement. Quite honestly, it can be downright humbling to leave a camera in what appears to be a promising location for a couple weeks only to discover an active squirrel is all that seems to frequent the area. On the other hand, removing a memory card from the camera and observing several hundred pictures have been captured really causes one’s excitement level to rapidly crescendo.
Best of all, for about $100 you can purchase a basic model like the ones we use and achieve great results. Do the fancy cameras work better…no doubt, but keep in mind I can purchase 4 or 5 basic cameras with some limitations to function for the same price as a single fancy camera containing all the bells and whistles one could ever imagine.
Yet, if you are using trail cameras to help inspire a youngster to enjoy the outdoors you don’t need ultra fancy. Instead, get a basic functioning camera that keeps things rather simple. Remember, you want the child to focus on where best to place the cameras so they can learn about wildlife and their daily movements.
So, if you’ve been putting off investing in a trail camera by justifying you don’t need one to be successful at hunting, well then so be it. If, on the other hand, you’ve been looking for an excuse to spend some additional time outdoors with your child…well, then I can assure you that working together by placing a few trail cameras can have benefits far exceeding anything you will ever achieve by sitting in your house and playing those mind-numbing video games. This summer…give it a try!
© 2009 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.