In the quest to take a trophy buck, it’s not uncommon for deer hunters to have a large fleet of game cameras. Most people I know run anywhere from 3 to 20 game cameras across their hunting property. With that many trail cameras running at the same time, trying to pattern whitetail movement can quickly become disorganized and unmanageable.
Sifting through dozens of folders filled with mostly empty images trying to find a pattern to deer movement can become a labor-intensive task for even the most organized hunter. Fortunately, several methods have emerged to make the process of culling through and making sense of all those photos a much simpler task.
As always, there is a do it yourself method, using spreadsheets, databases, and custom macros. However, this post is for the less computer savvy hunters, who would rather use web apps or software like W.I.S.E. to do the dirty work for them.
First thing, before you go and buy software, or dream up your own personal system for managing game camera photos, there are some tasks you need to take care of to make your life easier.
1. Name and Number Each of Your Trail Cameras
Each number and description will help you remember where the photos were taken. Most trail cameras will let you give it a custom name through its internal settings. This is a great place to put the number and description, as it will show up in the timestamp of each photo.
2. Set the Correct Date and Time
Make sure you have the date and time correctly set on each game camera before deploying it the field. Nothing is more confusing than trying to sift through hundreds or thousands of photos with bad timestamps.
3. Get More Memory
Make sure you have enough SD memory cards. Ideally, you should have 2 cards for each camera. This makes it possible to review your most recent photos while keeping your cameras in the field.
4. Go Wireless
You can make your life even easier by utilizing cellular trail cameras. You can get the pictures sent to your phone without needing to visit the camera in person. Now you can take advantage of online tracking tools even if your camera is out of state.
5. Make a Map
I like to print out an aerial photo of my property and put it on the wall next to my computer. Then I place a sticker or pushpin at each deer stand location, food plots, and use a pen to draw lines of sight for each camera. This helps me visualize the orientation of my photos and ultimately how the deer are moving on the land.
Online Trail Camera Software
There are several choices for camera software available. Three of the most popular programs are WISE, and DeerLab.
- Pros: Best Looking User Interface, Good Set of Features
- Cons: Requires Monthly Subscription, Limits on Numbers of Photos
This is a newer entry into the trail camera software world and is an online tool that requires a monthly subscription. You can add your own custom property using aerial photography, and allows you to drop pins for each of your cameras. Each trail camera pin will have information like brand and model.
DeerLab lets you upload your photos to that specific trail camera and add tags and other details. Two interesting features of DeerLab is the ability to filter your entire photo library by a wide range of criteria and to view activity patterns for individual trail cameras.
WISE Trail Camera Software
- Pros: Full set of Features, No Monthly Fee
- Cons: Not the Best Looking App
WISE gives you all the features of the other programs, minus the monthly fee. Like the others, you set up your custom property and place the locations of your trail cameras. After that, you can import your photos, add tags, and sync them with historical weather data.
After using WISE for a while, you have the power to create custom reports for all the deer on your land and even pattern individual bucks. WISE can even suggest to you which tree stand to hunt based on your historical data and the weather forecast.
There is excellent support through the Hunters Club website, even including live chat support during daytime office hours. WISE is also planning mobile hunting apps for iOS and Android smartphones to give you the ability to add and review data in the field.