Trail camera avoidance - more sneaky sika

UK Outfitters

caorach

Well-Known Member
Sika are very wary and I've had an idea that the big stags, especially, simply avoid the trail camera. Even hinds will usually carefully walk in front of it the first time and then simply not come back and so over time the number of photos can fall away. Anything out of place and the big stags don't ask questions, they just leave and don't come back. The camera is relatively small and is attached pretty low down on the tree with nothing to make it stand out at all and at this time of year it is rarely dark so the flash doesn't fire much to annoy them so I'd have thought all was good, but that is not the case.

I've had a few "white out" photos were I was pretty certain it was a nose giving the camera a good sniff and close examination but this time the camera had been out for a long time and so might have had very little human scent plus he wasn't a very big stag and so wasn't as cautious as a bigger one.

The first photo shows what I believe to be a nose having a good sniff at the camera, I've had similar photos where you can actually see the whiskers. About 10 seconds later the deer appears.



 

caorach

Well-Known Member
Great second picture, but the first looks like a thumb or finger. But may just be my old eyes.

Sika stags don't have thumbs or fingers and the first picture was taken 8 seconds before the second one. I've seen this a few times now, sometimes you can see the whiskers on their nose.
 

willowbank

Well-Known Member
Interesting post and "blow it" (very mild expletive lol) I have just put my two new cameras out and didnt give the scent problem a second thought, they are acorns in steel boxes, lashed to trees with steel cycle cable locks and covered in cloth camo tape, I expect it will be weeks before the scent wears off, drat.

What could be used to de-scent the cameras, not meaning to deviate from the thread just need a quick bit of advice please.

Regards WB
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
What could be used to de-scent the cameras, not meaning to deviate from the thread just need a quick bit of advice please.

I don't get too excited about the scent problem, but the Americans do and they have stuff to spray on the cameras which claim to get rid of human scent.

Now I don't have the experience some of these US folks have but I'd have thought that replacing human scent with some chemical would be just as big a problem for the deer. It might be worth a search on scent blockers or maskers or similar.

Also I have to say that sika are wary in a big way and I believe I only tend to get "nose in the camera" problems from bigger stags. I also think that the physical presence of the camera is enough to worry many sika and even in daylight when there is no flash they will sometimes watch it very carefully indeed and I think it does move them away. As the grass is getting longer I noticed that although I wasn't getting as many photos in my current position as at the start there is now a good path in the grass just about 10 yards beyond the camera location. I suspect they are using it to avoid the camera. They clearly aren't worried in a big way by the camera as they haven't moved very far, but they don't like it either and have taken precautions.

So, I think that certainly with sika the very presence of the camera is enough to make them wary and chase them off. To give you some idea my camera has been in its current location for 2 months. In the first day it took 111 photos, in the first month it took around 500 and in the 2nd month it took just over 240. In that time I've visited the camera 3 times, once to put it up and after one month and then two months to replace the card. Note that maximum photos occurred in the 24 hours after I placed the camera for the first time. Given this I don't think the scent thing is a big problem as the camera would have had maximum scent at this time, but the physical presence of a strange box is and slowly moves the deer, even if only by a few yards, so they can avoid the threat.
 

howy308

Well-Known Member
Interesting advice given, is there any other deer in the area and if so have you caught any on the camera?
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
There are no other species commonly present in the area. The very occasional red might pass through once in a blue moon but I've never seen one on the camera and don't think we've had any visit during the year the camera has been up.
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
few pics from a trail cam of sika in wicklow

I love the first two especially, that hind is giving the camera a good look. I get some photos like that where they are clearly giving the camera the once over but with time the number of photos drop off so although they don't all run on first spotting it they seem to slowly reduce their use of the area directly around the camera - and I'm talking about a few yards rather than big distances. I've never seen a big stag on the camera and think they are just at another level of caution to the hinds and smaller stags.
 

ion

Well-Known Member
I get quite a lot of flare outs with close up reds and sometimes not a whisker in sight. Just an arty farty haze for the next few pics until the condensation on the lens clears. (that is after making sure that cam is facing north to avoid over exposure ) I have discovered that Charolais cattle will flare at almost any distance in the infra red, and very strong reflected sunlight off glossy reds has caused slight overexposure. Has anybody tried setting up a game cam in security style, ie relatively high off the ground facing downwards ? Just wondering if it would reduce deer awareness of the cam and or infrared unit.


I have only edited the worst of the trail cam pic's before uploading but there's a few that I am quite pleased with .

ionhjhamilton's Library | Photobucket

So far I only have red pic's but I'll be checking on fallow ground cams next week.

Caorach, you must have very secure Sika ground as I would be nervous of leaving a cam on my let. The low battery red light is dreadful giveaway on the Stealthcam.

Ion
 

mark@mbb

Well-Known Member
I use a little acorn with black led and there is no flash or any firm of light and you get quality pictures nnot sure what it would be like on Sika
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
I have only edited the worst of the trail cam pic's before uploading but there's a few that I am quite pleased with .

ionhjhamilton's Library | Photobucket

So far I only have red pic's but I'll be checking on fallow ground cams next week.

Caorach, you must have very secure Sika ground as I would be nervous of leaving a cam on my let. The low battery red light is dreadful giveaway on the Stealthcam.

Those are cracking pictures of the reds and interesting that almost all of them seem to notice the camera and have a wee look! I'd be interested to see if your picture numbers drop off over time which is what I find.

I've tried the camera high looking down and I know some in the USA will do this, they seem to take trail cameras a lot more seriously than we do and they have a lot more experience. However once you tilt it down you reduce the detection range so I like to try and aim it horizontal if I can. To be honest when I've tried it high I've never had much luck with deer in the area so I don't have much experience of how well it might work.

The ground isn't secure at all but is quite a large area and most people tend to stay to the tracks and stay out of trying to walk through the trees. I've only once got pictures of a person from the camera, but they didn't spot the camera. As you say there is always the worry of having it nicked but on the other hand there is no point having a trail camera if it isn't out on the ground doing its job. I just rationalized that it was probably going to get nicked some day but until then I'd get the best use out of it I could. So far it has been out for over a year now and reading the US trail camera forums I suspect the average working life of a camera is around 2 years before some of the electronics fail so if I can get another year out of it I'm probably ahead.
 

ion

Well-Known Member
The reaction of deer to the camera seems to be pretty equal by day and by night. I'm presuming that they are picking up the PIR sensor in the day time. I'm pretty sure the Stealth cam and the Wildgame cam both have an illuminated indicator light when taking pic's compared to the lidl and aldi cams which seem to operate on the qt.

We have an inquisitive /acquisitive / destructive neighbour on our sika ground and I don't want to give him the pleasure of getting one over me, but I have private ground in Kildare where body size makes up for lack of numbers and I will get a cam out there in early August.

I'm not great on the maths / physics but I had hoped that a camera set at say arm-tip height would not lose too much sensor distance. I might give it a try just to satisfy my curiousity.
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
The sensor is passive so there is no way for the deer to see it, apart from the actual physical hole on the front of the camera.

Despite the sensor being passive you can imagine its detection area as being like a beam of light - so if you aim the beam straight out then it will detect anything that "breaks" the beam out to the max range for the camera. However, if you place the camera high looking down then your "beam" is shooting into the ground and so the detection area will end where the beam hits the ground plus anything close to the tree might come in under the beam. That's my understanding of it anyhow, for what that's worth.

If your deer are always appearing at about the same spot then putting the camera high and aiming down at the spot should be no problem but if they might appear right out at the max range of the sensor then you probably need the camera pointing straight out to get max detection. However, every location is different and requires a different approach so both tactics have their place.

My camera (a Bushnell) has the low glow infrared and so the deer can see the glow from the flash if they are looking at the camera and if it is dark. If they are looking right at it when it fires at night they get out of their as fast as their legs will carry them. I set the camera to take 3 photos at each trigger and it is really fast both at triggering and also at taking the follow up pictures. The following sequence shows a typical reaction when the deer is looking at the flash and it fires, you only get this in pitch dark as if there is some light about it swamps the glow from the camera and they don't see it:





 

dlz90

Well-Known Member
I have been using the trail cams for a while now a sport in itself for sure. I added a while back a couple of the no glo bushnells to my arsenal they work well but as can be seen the sika can suss them, I think mainly from scent I have tried masking that scent by rubbing them with mud moss nettles whatever I can find I have even tried aniseed over the cam's sometimes it works and the sika appear to pay no attention to them well they don't seem just as suspicious, but as mentioned they can see them as well so I try to camo them with vegetation being careful not to obscure sensor flash or lens heres some images below, some seem oblivious some are very suspicious the camera has been place roughly 1m from the ground in these shot's.

Damian.
 

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caorach

Well-Known Member
The videos are certainly interesting - I'm not convinced by the scent thing but the Americans are big into it and take measures, some of them nothing short of crazy, to reduce scent on their cameras. In defence of my position I'd suggest that certainly the first stag appeared to see the camera and then to try and catch its scent. However I could be wrong and the reason why I've seen no sign of scent scaring the deer off could be simply because they avoid the camera and so I've no photos or video of it happening. On the other hand my camera tends to produce the most images in the day, or few days, after I position it and after that the images tail off with time. My take on this is that they see it, are not too worried but none the less they take some small measures to avoid it. If scent was the main problem then I'd expect the number of images to increase with time as the scent wears off.

When you think of it the deer live in the forest so expecting them not to spot the camera, no matter how well hidden, would be like putting it in your bedroom and expecting you not to see it.

It must be said that I've had good fun out of my trail camera and as you say getting images is nearly a sport in itself. It has also confirmed some stuff I thought I knew, and caused me to have to give up on other ideas and every time I pull the card it is another learning experience.
 

willowbank

Well-Known Member
You are spot on in saying the US is far more into trail cams than we are at the moment, I have read the book "spies in the deer wood" all about trail cams and written by an American, lots of really useful tips and full of information, aimed at whitetails but still very relevant.

All the best WB
 
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