How To Film Your Turkey Hunt With A Trail Camera

It wasn’t until I had both jakes pieced out and in the cooler that I realized I hadn’t taken a picture of my daughters and I with their birds. In the excitement of a double during a beautiful spring morning in Minnesota, I’d neglected to get the image that might mean the most to me in the future.

That’s pretty stupid, especially for someone who carries thousands of dollars worth of camera gear on every hunt. Not to mention that, by trade, that same person is a photographer who should know better. I’ve never batted .1000 in life, and I’m probably not going to start now.

I did take solace in the fact that I had plenty of images of the girls with their birds. I also had two different video angles of those jakes cautiously walking in and not walking out. I filmed both with trail cameras, which have become almost as important to me on my spring turkey hunts as my calls or camo.

Filming a turkey hunt with a trail camera is an easy way to get some extra memories out of the hunt. It’s cheap (if you already own a camera) and easy to do. There are a few considerations to make when you’re setting up, which will ensure a cool clip of that strutter before you jelly his head.

Camera Choice And Settings

I’ve filmed turkey hunts with traditional cameras and cell cameras. A lot of people don’t know this, but you can set up most cell cameras to function just like a traditional camera, so there’s often no need to fire up your data plan to do this if you only have cell cameras. A bigger concern than what camera you use, is what settings you choose.

First off, select the longest video clip your camera offers. That might be between a minute and five, but whatever it is, choose the longest duration. This means that even if the hen that your longbeard is following makes it into your spread a minute before him, you’ll still capture the kill. It’s also a good idea to set up the recovery time as short as possible. This might be one second or five, but you want that camera ready to take a new clip as soon as possible.

Choose the highest resolution for the video quality you can, too. There’s no reason not to, honestly (unless you’re using a small-capacity SD card). The settings mentioned so far are universal for me. I do, however, switch the trigger sensitivity depending on my setup.

If I have my decoys out in an alfalfa field and the wind is blowing 30mph, I know that my cameras are going to pick up that movement. I don’t want 100 clips of clover blowing in the wind. This situation necessitates the lowest sensitivity setting. If I’m on a logging road on a calm morning, I’ll go the other direction to ensure that the camera fires up the moment a bird walks in range.

Think Through The Look

One of the mistakes I made when I stared to mess around with filming turkey hunts on trail cameras is that I often put the cameras too close to my decoys. You know that the birds are likely to focus on your jake decoy, so that should be the starting point.

Since I mostly just set my cameras up on the ground as opposed to a tree, it’s hard to capture a three-foot-tall bird if it’s too close to the decoys. I’ve started to place them between 10 to 20 feet away, depending on the setting, so that I can capture the whole bird as it comes in and not just get a video of turkey feet walking past the camera.

It’s also a good idea to try to anticipate where birds will approach from and aim your camera in that direction. This produces a better overall shot, but you do have to be mindful of the sun. While I don’t do much to hide my cameras on the ground, I do pile up some debris around them to make them blend in a little. The turkeys don’t seem to care, but you also don’t want them to catch the sun flaring off the lens if you can avoid it.

While this is one more thing to think about on a turkey hunt, it can be a cool way to capture some hi-res video of your kill without having to invest in camera gear or think about filming in a meaningful way. I do this on pretty much every hunt now, even when I’m running and gunning, and might set up in multiple spots in a single morning. It’s usually no more effort than pulling the camera from my pack and setting it up, which takes seconds. That’s a little bit of a pain, but when it works out and a strutter attacks your decoys while the cameras rolling, it’s always worth it.

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