That Was Then, This is Now: Getting More from Your Trail Camera Photos

Picture this. You want to capture photos of deer remotely... but you live in the 1880s.

Believe it or not, the first trail camera, or camera trap, was introduced by wildlife enthusiast George Shiras in the late 1880s. Using a huge camera by today’s standards, Shiras ingeniously devised a baited trap using tripwires and an automatic flashbulb to capture photos of deer and other wildlife around Whitefish River, Michigan.

The above is an impressive Shiras “Camera Trap” photo over 100 years old. And you think your trail camera’s flash potentially scares white-tail deer?

In 1906 National Geographic published the first images and, after reading the article, President Theodore Roosevelt personally wrote a letter to Shiras suggesting he write a book about his experiences. Thirty-four years later, Shiras published Hunting Wild Life with Camera and Flashlight: a Record of Sixty Five Years’ Visits to the Woods and Waters of North America, which included over 950 wildlife photographs and some of the earliest known “flash” photography.

A doe and two fawns from the late 1800s
Another George Shiras photo dated 1898.

Oh, how the times have changed.

Fast forward hundred-plus years and trail cameras are now an indispensable tool to hunters and wildlife researchers. Thankfully the days of tripwires, bright flashes, and, even more recently, hauling your roll film to the local photo lab are over. Can you imagine?

Shiras would be amazed at today’s technologically advanced cameras. In addition to high-resolution photos and videos, we’ve come to expect features such as temperature, moon phase, timestamp, no-glow black flash, fast trigger speed, wireless retrieval, and more.

But are hunters using trail cameras to their full potential?

Each hunter has their own way of organizing photos, some a lot more advanced than others. But, by and large, most only look at individual photos or, at most, a group from the latest card pull.

Traditionally, photos are grouped in folders. Some hunters organize their photos by location and have subfolders with named deer. Others do it by date. But, no matter how many subsets of folders, it’s certainly a challenge to analyze deer patterns and trends–especially when you throw in numerous cameras to the mix.

What if you want to see if a particular deer appears during specific weather conditions or time frames? How about photos with a southeast wind from four specific cameras? There are thousands of different scenarios that can be overlooked.

DeerLab’s mission is to change the way deer hunters view, analyze and manage trail camera photos.

While we can’t predict a particular deer’s exact location at a future time, our goal is to provide hunters with simple-to-use tools to understand deer patterns and trends better. From the casual hunter to the professional outfitter, learning more about your deer population will help dramatically increase harvesting odds and even make the process of organizing photos enjoyable.

If you haven’t yet tried out DeerLab, we invite you to our free 14-day trial. No credit card is needed, just a desire to get more from your current and past trail camera photos. All trail cameras work with DeerLab, and they don’t even need to capture weather information. We’ll automatically add the weather for you, even older ones. If you start a trial, make sure to use our new tagging and filtering features. We believe DeerLab will give you a fresh new insight into how you view your deer population and hunt your property.

Mr. Shiras was a pioneer when he set out to capture the first trail camera photos. Following his inspiration and the technology available today, we desire to help hunters get more from their trail cameras. The future is bright.

Jon Livingston
Co-founder, DeerLab
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