It's a question hunters experienced with cellular trail cameras have to ask every bit as much as those who are brand new to them. How do you know which photo tranmission plan is right for your cellular trail camera? It's not about getting an answer, it's about understanding the decision-making process.
Cellular trail cameras are great. Being able to stay engaged with your hunting area, and scout every day is a huge benefit. Not to mention being able to leave the animals alone, without walking into the woods to pull SD cards. We’re happier. They’re happier. It’s great for everyone.
But how do you know what photo transmission plan you need?
The answer isn’t complicated, but it does require some back-of-the-napkin math, and some understanding of your own expectations.
The first thing you need to consider is how many photos do you expect a camera to take in a month. Since your photo transmission plans with SPYPOINT work off of a monthly allotment, having a rough estimate of how many photos the camera will take is a good place to start.
If you’ve run a camera there before and have any notes about how many photos were taken, that’s a great help. Otherwise, you’re really guessing. A camera on a trail probably takes fewer photos than one on a feeder, for example. Come up with a number you think is realistic and start there. Think of this as your detections number. How many times do I think a deer will walk in front of this camera?
Now that you have that detections number, you will need to factor in your settings preferences. If you set the camera on multi-shot mode, and have it taking three photos for every detection, you just tripled that photo count. Expect five deer a day? That’s 35 deer a week, and roughly 140 per month. If the camera is taking three photos per detection, that’s 420 photos per month.
But that’s just pictures you expect of deer. What about the coyotes, squirrels, raccoons, birds, wind-blown branches, trespassers…the list goes on. Getting to 1,000 photos a month or more in a high-traffic area isn’t uncommon. In areas with less traffic, you may never get close. That’s why you need to really think about how many photos you expect to get from a camera in a specific area.
You also need to consider the duration you expect to have between camera visits. SPYPOINT cellular trail cameras keep taking photos even after the monthly photo count has been reached. Those photos are stored on the SD card like a traditional trail camera. So, if you are going to be frequently visiting the camera area, and don’t mind waiting to pull a card if you don’t get every photo, that is an option.
Maybe you have a LINK-MICRO-LTE on a feeder that you visit once a week to fill the feeder and check batteries. You really want to get photos into the app, but you know you will be there once a week, so if you run out of photos with a few days left in the month, or even a week or so, it’s not like you won’t be there to pull the card sometime soon.
At the other extreme, maybe you have a LINK-MICRO-S couple states away, running for months on end thanks to the integrated solar panel, and you aren’t planning on visiting it again for 16 weeks, photos on the SD card don’t do you much good.
With your photo count, settings preferences and visit duration in mind, you should have a pretty good idea of what your photo transmission needs look like from a logistics standpoint. Now it comes down to your personal preferences. There’s one big question only you can answer.
How many photos are you willing to miss in a month?
A photo transmission plan that doesn’t send you every photo is leaving you open to the possibility of missing out on the photo that ends making or breaking your season. What is your tolerance for risk of missing that photo?
Sure, you can run on the free plan. Get 100 photos (250 if you’re an Insiders Club member), every month and just get the rest when you pull cards. That is an option. But when hunting season rolls around, how many sits are you making between checking those SD cards?
Access to trail camera photos have become the primary scouting tool for many of us. With work, kids, and day-to-day life keeping us busier than ever, it’s that year-round access to scouting information that keeps us in the hunt, literally.
Every hunter has a different tolerance for missing out on that information. Some hunters are more casual, some are fanatics. Whichever bucket you fall into is great but knowing which you are makes this hunting decision a little bit easier.
How you want to scout and plan for your hunt goes hand in hand with that as well. If you want to be evaluating the health of your herd, the number of quantity of bucks you have a reasonable expectation to be able to hunt and make a plan for coming season on a frequent basis, getting your photos every day is a critical factor.
There’s no good way to tell every hunter how to choose the right photo transmission plan for their cellular trail cameras. Heck, you can’t even really come up with just one answer for every camera a single hunter uses. Even for a camera, the needs can change on a month-to-month basis, and if in a given month, you need to go up to a higher plan, you can do that. Hopefully though, we’ve covered some of the basic points that you have to consider to narrow down your options.
Want to set-it and forget-it? Just put a premium plan on every camera, select the annual billing, and you know you’ll get every photo all year long and not have to worry. Maybe your budget doesn’t allow for that. Maybe you just want to focus on getting those photos when seasons get closer. That’s fine, you can do the month-to-month thing on a premium plan, or even a lower tier if the photo count won’t be that high.
You might even be able to get away with the upgrade to the Basic 250 plan for all your cameras by becoming and Insiders Club Member.
No matter what you choose to do, at least now you are armed with the thought process to make the best decision for how you hunt.