Trail camera season is underway. For some with serious whitetail afflictions, the trailcam season never closes. But for most, the season kicks off in early summer and reaches fever pitch sometime this month.
Trail cameras are outstanding tools and have changed the way I hunt. But they aren't cheap. And buying one only to find out that it doesn't perform as expected is not a pleasant experience. Maybe it's happened to you. I know it has to me.
So with trailcam season starting to roll, we decided to put a few different models through some real-world tests and share the results with everyone here on the blog. The testing is underway and we'll share results with you soon. Both Brantley and I have several models that we're reviewing, so you should get a pretty decent list to help you make a decision when buying your next camera.
But today I'm not reviewing an actual camera. Instead, we're going to look at a system I just started using a few days ago -- the Moultrie Game Management System.
I hunt several states each fall, usually on public land. I always use trail cameras when I travel to new locations. If legal, I will put out a small amount of corn or attractant. My goal is to get a very quick inventory of what type of deer are in the area. It's a system that's worked pretty well.
But this year, I have a super-tight schedule and knew I'd need to do something a bit different. Rather than relying completely on last-minute scouting when I arrive, I made a whirlwind trip to one of the areas I intend to hunt in Missouri to hang two trail cameras.
One of the cameras is hooked up to Moultrie's Game Management System. The system uses a sending module to transfer photos from the camera via cell phone service. To be honest, I didn't know much about it and wasn't sure just how well it would work.
As I was driving back to my home state of Michigan, I received an e-mail alert that I had photos waiting for me from the camera. And I was hooked.
The system was fairly easy to use. For starters, you'll need one of the Game Spy Connect modules and a Moultrie camera that's compatible with the sending unit. You can get both for about $350.
Setting the unit up is pretty straight forward. You will need to register the unit and camera on the Moultrie Game Management website, which is where your photos will be uploaded.
The most critical piece of the puzzle is locating the unit in an area that gets AT&T cell phone service. The coverage map is pretty solid so you shouldn't have too much trouble with that. But if you don't have service, the system will not work.
To get your photos uploaded, you do need a pay-as-you-go account with Moultrie. Packages are about $45 a month.
The amount of photos you can receive per package are limited, and that's one of the things I don't like about it. For $45 a month, you can receive about 400 medium resolution photos. Trouble is, the medium resolution photos are too small to see much detail on a deer that isn't posing directly in front of the camera at a close distance. So I've had to set mine to receive higher resolution images, which means I'll be allotted fewer photo uploads.
But the system, thus far, has worked perfectly and I'm receiving photos of deer on a camera located nearly 1,000 miles from home. That information will save me a ton of time and energy when I head out to hunt.
You can choose to have photos uploaded to you as soon as they're taken, or you can have them batch upload once per day to save battery life on the sending unit. Each time an upload occurs, you receive an e-mail that lets you know if you've got new images to review. The images are stored on your own private web page on the Moultrie Game Management website. You can view the photos there or download them to your own computer.
So far, the system has performed flawlessly and was easy to deploy. I can't say that I'm overly pleased with the pricing system -- $45 a month for a few hundred high-resolution photos is too much. The amount of images should be unlimited, or at the very least, more images should be included at higher resolution settings. But, the system is definitely going to make my time in Missouri this fall more productive. And that's exactly what I was looking for.