Trail Camera Tragedies

AJ Gall

Described by many as the equivalent of Christmas morning, checking trail cameras is supposed to be exciting, rewarding, mysterious, season changing, fist pumping and a brag-to-your-buddies experience.  The key phrase there was . . . SUPPOSED TO BE.   Oh, the anguish one goes through when they have a dreaded trail camera fail.  Most don’t understand, it can send a hunter into deep depression, before you know it, the kids are at Grandma’s and the wife is eating ice cream from the carton at a girlfriend’s house, all because you have locked yourself into a frozen stare at your laptop with your mouth mutely agape.   Yes . . . believe it, you forgot to turn your camera on and the screen on your computer explains that there are no files to view.

We’ve all been there, some of us experience a more severe case of TCS (Trail Camera Shock) than others, but this blog is meant for healing.  It is so important to have a support group to lean on in times of distress, so if you have ever experienced the following symptoms please feel free to share your story, so we here at Legendary can be your crying shoulder (momentarily) and get you back up on your feet.  Seriously dude, your wife and kids miss you…

Symptom #1: The “Ain’t gonna get no photos in ‘test mode’”  Symptom

It hits you like a ton of bricks!  The highlight of your week is popping that cover off your trail camera and swapping out the SD card.  But for this symptom, there is no need to swap the card because there are no freakin’ pictures!!!!  Are you kidding me!  I left the dang switch in TEST MODE and walked away!  A month’s worth of no pictures for the severe cases, a few days worth for the minor cases.  Nonetheless, the feeling is the same and all you can do is flip the switch to ‘ON’ and walk away…then turn around and double check…and triple check…and quadruple check.

Symptom #2: The “1 blade of grass, 2,000 pictures” Epidemic

If you read the title of this symptom, you already know what I’m talking about.  You swear there was no vegetation in front of the sensor, and there probably wasn’t.  I’ve watched a seed grow into a full grown tree right in front of my eyes…right in front of my trail camera.  I don’t understand it, but it happens and it’s frustrating as all get out.  Mainly because we still go through every single picture to see if one captures a buck walking by.  Nope, it was just the hurricane winds we had the past two weeks.

Symptom #3: The “Boy, it sure is sunny out” Disorder

Face it, you either pointed your camera directly east or west.  And it just so happens that the angle of the sun is the absolute worst when the deer movement is the absolute best.  Man I love bright white, blown out images!  You sure can tell a lot about that buck by its hooves!  This just makes you want to scream.  How is it that they only walk by when the sun is shining a laser beam of light right into the lens?!

Symptom #4: The “Tease” Ache


Is it a spiker?  A forker? Nah, it’s probably a split G2.  Or maybe it’s a split of a split of a split G2.  There is no way of telling what that close up tine belongs too.  And of course you only got the one picture of him.  At least we can tell it’s a him…unless the same happens with an ear.  So for this, just let your imagination run wild, I guarantee it is a tine off the next world record.  Hey, if anything, it may get you in the stand a bit more.

Symptom #5: The “zero, Zero, ZERO!” Defect

Stupid camera! Stupid, stupid, stupid!  Baby, I treated you right, I gave you an empty 4GB SD Card, a brand new set of lithium ion batteries – not those cheap alkalines, and I even wiped your eye with a soft-as-silk microfiber cloth.  And this is what I get in return?  You selfishly decided not to take a single picture!  Well hunny, I hope you enjoy a nice swim in the pond, or would you prefer the sledge hammer?  On second thought, maybe I’ll just send you in on warranty because you cost way to much as it is.

Symptom #6: The “One battery short” Condition

For whatever reason, the camera has a mind of its own.  Sure it just worked flawlessly for the past few weeks, but now it won’t turn on.  Seconds ago it said the batteries were still full, and it collected images just fine.  But something happened between the time you turned it off to swap out cards and the time you went to turn it back on.  There is no LCD display…well what the heck?  Frustrating? Yes, but even more so when you go to pull out the batteries.  As soon as you pull the first one, the rest explode out of the camera and put on their mouse feet and run away and hide.  Good luck finding all 10 AA’s in that prairie grass…or even worse, the 12 inches of snow on the ground.

Symptom #7: “The inconsiderate __hole” Infection

Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? It should. It’s the absolute worst of all the symptoms.  Some person who calls himself a sportsman stole your camera.  Unfortunately, I know more hunters who have had a trail camera stolen than not.  And most were stolen off private property, which doubles the crime.  Seriously, if you’re an ethical hunter even in the least bit, you would leave other peoples cameras alone!!!  I don’t know how many cameras I have seen up on public land in my days, but it’s a lot, and never have I once even thought about taking it.  I know how hard I have worked for mine and how much they cost and how much explaining I have to do to my woman when I buy two more every year…the cost of running trail cameras is a lot and every hunter has a right to expect to see his or her camera still functioning when they go out to check it.

Through all the years of checking trail cameras there have been plenty of highs and lows.  While there have probably been more highs, the lows always seem to hurt more.  So for those of you who have or are still suffering from any of these symptoms, please share your story below using #HunterProblems.  Let it out big guy, we are here for you.  We encourage you to share this important message with your loved one’s or other hunting buddies so they too can better understand this terrible, terrible illness.

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About The Author
From Woods to Table

AJ Gall

AJ Gall's prior hunting and wildlife experiences began long ago and make him the perfect contributing deer hunting guru.  As a habitat consultant under Dr. Grant Woods, AJ has worked on properties in 13 different states, amassing over 25,000 acres of quality deer management. He now uses that knowledge to help clients find their dream hunting properties as a licensed real estate agent in Wisconsin.  


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