Picture of Setting Up A Trail Camera Survey
For many wildlife and land managers, investing money into a property is nothing new. For most, it is to increase the value of their property whether monetarily or recreational. Of this group, deer hunters are often the first to spend "a buck." From food plots to timber stand improvements (TSI), most management enhancements come at a cost.

In order to determine if a you are truly receiving a return on your investment (ROI), it is critical to have base information on the current deer herd. This includes but is not limited to population, buck to doe ratio, buck age structure, and most often looked at, buck antler size. Of all the methods to obtain this information, a trail camera survey is by far the most efficient and unbiased tool.

The following are steps on how to setup a trail camera survey site/station.
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Step 1: How Many Cameras Do I Need?

Picture of How Many Cameras Do I Need?
The camera placement process is a bit more complicated than one might think. Starting with determining the Camera Density on the property. Research has shown that Camera Density, along with number of days out, will determine the OBSERVABILITY rate. The Observability Rate is the percent of the actual number of individual deer that are captured on camera during the survey period. For most properties under 800 acres, the optimum density is 1 camera per 100 acres, for larger properties the density can be as low as 1 per 200 acres and results produced will still be valuable.

Step 2: Selecting a Site/Station

Picture of Selecting a Site/Station
Selection of a site or station within each "acreage block," has a bit of methodical madness to it. Your property should be surveyed in proportion to the local habitat types. For example, if on a 800 acre property 50% is hardwoods, 25% in fields, and 25% in cedars, and you have 1 camera per 100 acres...then 4 cameras should be located in hardwoods, and 2 in fields and cedars each.

In addition, the local site where the camera actually sits is very important. In fact, inadequate preparation at this level can dramatically effect the validity of your trail camera results.