How a Run-in with a Trail Camera Thief Changed my Thinking about the Rut

October 28 2013 – Shawn OConnor

I've been asked, "How'd you catch the person that stole your trail cameras?" Well, the simple answer is, he didn't steal all my cameras!

One additional camera captured an image of the trespasser holding one of my game cameras while surveying my food plot.  That image was date and time stamped so I knew exactly where to look on my remaining cameras for additional images.

CAMBUSH camo on trail cam with field scan functionality

Fortunately for me, I had a camera set to field scan mode.  I programmed that camera to take photos at set intervals of time, rather than when it sensed movement.  The camera's view encompassed the entire food plot and allowed me to see images before and after I caught the photo of the trespasser.  I analyzed the images, looking for anything out of place.  There he was, walking up the edge of the field, staying close to the tree line.  I could see him walking over to the tree where my camera was placed, standing there for several minutes and then disappearing into the woods from where he had come.  


Field scan not only captured the thief in the act, it also helped me piece together the puzzle of how the intruder gained access to the property.  That was exactly the kind of overwhelming evidence the local sheriff and county attorney needed to convict this trespasser.

Using Game Cams for the Rut

My intent in setting up the field scan camera was to understand when deer were accessing the food plot and from what direction.  My son was participating in the youth season, and that information would give us the best odds of getting him a shot.  After field scan proved so beneficial with the trespasser, I started to think of how I might broaden this capability in my hunting strategy.  

I now use a combination of motion-triggered cameras and field-scan cameras with CAMBUSH camo to conceal them from potential trespassers.  I set up motion-activated cameras where deer travel is restricted: a funnel, creek crossing, or any kind of pinch point that forces the deer to travel among limited options. I leverage field-scan cameras in areas where deer travel routes are more varied or I am unsure of the traffic patterns.  I don't want to roll the dice and just focus on one trail. Using field scan allows me to narrow down the preferred travel routes much faster.  It unveils the big-picture view of what's going on. More importantly, it tells me where the deer come from and which way they travel. That is the piece of information I am after when hunting the rut.  

Locating your Stands

Bucks will be traveling from doe bedding area to doe bedding area. Having cameras on field scan can quickly identify patterns that would take too much time and too many cameras to understand with motion sensors.  With that information, I can narrow down my focus and add additional motion-detection cameras to try and pinpoint the activity.  Once verified, now it’s a matter of setting up a stand that gives me the best interception spot based on that information.

Field scan is a fairly new capability for trail cameras, but I've found the field scan feature an important tool to help me get the big picture and put the puzzle together much faster.  Give it a try this fall, you might be surprised at what you discover.

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1 comment

  • Lonnie Clemens: September 30, 2018
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    Good article! Thank you for sharing. I am interested in catching game camera thieves.

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