It’s no secret cameras are all around us.
Anytime we step in public, we’re being watched.
At the gas station… on the highway… We’re even being watched in the woods.
We spent much of the last few days at our off-the-grid cabin. We were miles away from anything most folks would call civilization… and yet folks were watching us.
Thanks to new technology, watching wild critters (whether they’re on two legs or four) is easier than ever.
We saw cameras aimed at a beaver pond. We saw cameras on the lookout for elk. And, of course, we saw cameras on the prowl for bad guys.
If you’re not familiar, so-called trail cameras are all the rage in the woods these days. They’re cheap. They’re easy to use. And they’ll snap a picture of anything that comes by.
What most folks are missing, though, is that trail cams don’t need to live in the woods. They offer an excellent way to catch evildoers in the act.
Caught in the Act
Think your neighbor is stealing mail? Think somebody is sneaking around your car at night? Or, dare we say it, think your wife is inviting the neighbor over when you’re gone?
With a well-placed camera, you can know for sure.
Like we said, trail cameras are cheap and simple.
Unlike the security cameras most folks tend to turn to first, a trail camera doesn’t need hardwiring and doesn’t need to be connected to some bulky recording device.
Nope, all it needs is a set of batteries and the same sort of memory card used by your digital camera.
And, best of all, it’s far cheaper than a security camera. Where even a low-grade security camera can run several hundred dollars, you can get two entry-level trail cams for less than a hundred bucks.
At the heart of the device is a motion detector. Unlike a traditional video outfit that captures footage all the time, a trail camera takes a snapshot or records video (most units can do both) only when it detects nearby movement… like a person jumping a fence or a car pulling into your driveway.
Once the action is detected, the camera can capture a single picture, take a burst of pictures or even record several minutes of video. Most cameras can be programmed and customized to the user’s liking.
With a large memory card and a good set of lithium batteries, most cameras can take thousands of pictures before they need any attention.
Nighttime recording is no problem for a modern trail cam.
Some older units use a traditional flash to light up a critter crawling in the night. Obviously it isn’t such a good trait for covert operations.
But new cams use infrared technology to snap pictures at night. The bad guy or the big deer has no idea he’s in focus.
Watching From Afar
For folks who don’t have regular access to their cameras – like cabin owners who want to keep an eye on the front door – there are units that come complete with Wi-Fi or cellular capabilities.
In other words, you can have a picture sent to your phone within seconds of the camera being activated. It’s a very handy feature, especially for folks looking to catch a thief in the act.
Mounting a camera is not hard.
Most come with a strap that makes hanging the camera around a tree quite easy. But for proper surveillance, the unit should be hidden. For that, we recommend camouflaging the camera in bushes, putting it high up in a tree, or – getting creative – hiding it in a birdhouse or some other inconspicuous yard art.
We get a lot of use out of our cameras. They keep an eye on our cabin and the property around it.
Not only are we positive there’s been nobody on the property since our last visit… but we know when and where the critters that also call our land home are coming out for a stroll.
It’ll be handy knowledge come hunting season.
A simple trail cam is an ideal tool to add to your home security arsenal.
You never know what – or who – you’ll see.