January 14, 2022 5 min read

As much fun as it is to spend hours hanging out in a deer stand,most hunters agree that a cellular trail camera is a great way to cut down on that quality time in the trees. If you're new to hunting and aren't familiar with how cellular trail cameras work, they are mounted in the field and designed to help you spot deer or other game from a distance. These cameras have super sensitive motion sensors, and transmit photos to your phone or other device in real time when the sensor is triggered. While it's a sort of cruel irony to get a photo of an eight-pointed stag while you're in a meeting, these cameras really are a great investment. 

Landowners and hunting leasers find the cameras a huge help when it comes to property security–if they can detect a deer, they can also detect any unauthorized people on your land and get the authorities there quickly and with pinpoint precision. 

How Cellular Trail Cameras Work

cellular trail camera works a lot like a security camera, only it gets its internet connection from a cell signal rather than WiFi. These are stationary cameras that you install anywhere on your property and program to your specifications—you control the sensor sensitivity, night vision strength, whether you want notifications—using the camera's app. 

When the camera detects any movement or heat within the programmed range, you'll get a notification on your device and a photo of the activity in real time. 

Choosing the Best Trail Cameras with Cellular Capability

It helps to know how a cellular trail camera works when you're debating your options. Basically, they function like any other digital camera, only they're remote from the device where the image uploads.

These are a few of the things you should consider when you're shopping for a cellular model. 

  • Water resistance—This is the most important feature to look for, since these cameras are mounted outdoors and always in the weather. Look for the IP ratings on water tightness and solids, preferably a rating of IP65 or higher. You can put protective waterproof skins on cellular game cameras for additional weather protection.
  • Detection—How well does the camera detect activity? Most trail cameras are triggered by heat and motion, so unless both are present, the camera will not record an image.
  • Infrared emitters I—How bright are the night pictures? Does the infrared emitter glow with a red light, or does it have the undetectable "no glow" light? 
  • Night vision—For hunters, night vision is really more like pre-dawn vision, but look for a fairly high megapixel number so the camera will accurately capture images in low light. Higher-end trail cameras also have starlight night vision, which allows the camera to record low light images in real color. 
  • Picture quality—Check out sample photos from several angles and distances. Don't worry about megapixels for these cameras; you're not buying it for portrait quality. Other factors really are more important. 
  • Set up and screen—Is it simple to set up, program, and use the internal viewing screen?
  • Power source—How long do the batteries last? If you're using solar panels, is there enough clearance for the panels to get the energy they need, or do you need to clear brush or other trees from the area?
  • Cellular signal strength and access—Confirm that your cellular carrier has service in the area. AT&T and Verizon have the broadest nationwide coverage, but choose the service with the  strongest signal in the field.  One of the downsides to a 4G cellular camera is that they are notorious for a hair trigger response, sending images of rustling leaves and chipmunks, which eats into your data plan. Be sure you can adjust the sensor's sensitivity to ignore small animals and the breeze. 

Uploading Photos From Your Trail Camera

Cellular cameras have a corresponding app that you download to your phone or other device, and will send the images to you via the app. You can set the app for notifications when something triggers the camera, and monitor battery life, data usage, and settings. Some cameras have a live stream option. 

Extending the Battery Life on a Cellular Trail Camera

If you're wondering how do you keep your cellular trail camera working in the wild, the secret is a reliable power source. 

Your cellular trail camera is only as good as the batteries you use, so don't cheap out with alkaline batteries. Lithium batteries do cost more, but last about four times longer than alkaline. Lithium is also more resistant to extremes in temperature, which is another advantage over alkaline. 

Rechargeable batteries are a great solution for cellular trail cameras. Rather than continue to buy replacements, buy a couple of sets of rechargeable lithium batteries so that you always have a spare set ready to go. 

Another way to keep your batteries running is to decrease the sensitivity settings on the sensors, reducing the power usage. You won't get nearly as many notifications of squirrels and the wind, either. 

Pros of Cellular Trail Cameras

Cellular trail cameras can make a day in the field a lot more productive. A camera is quiet, still, and has no scent, so it doesn't scare away the deer like a human would. 

They also can provide a level of security in remote parts of your property. They send you images in real time, of both your game prey and any interlopers onto your property. Unlike cameras with only WiFi capability, cellular cameras work in more remote areas where WiFi may not be available. 

Cons of Cellular Trail Cameras

These cameras are expensive, and require an ongoing cellular data plan. The video quality is not comparable to an outdoor security camera, and these cellular cameras are open to hacks. If you are only using the camera for game purposes this is not an issue, but it is if you want to tag it to your home security system. 

Cellular trail cameras are good for more than hunting

If you're a hunter, a landowner, or an outdoorsman of any kind, a cellular trail camera is a pretty good investment. Once you've figured out how easily a cellular trail camera works, found a spot and mounted the device, you have complete visual access to the area in the camera's range. If you install solar panels for your power source (the panels provide ongoing power to lithium batteries), then the camera is an install it and forget it operation—once you've downloaded the app, you can check out the area any time.

The real-time notifications you get when there's any activity, with the accompanying images, let you know if it's an innocent buck or a poacher on your land, and you can catch the interlopers a lot faster. If you're using a trail camera as a security feature on an RV or camper, you can keep an eye on your stuff while you're away from the campsite—a huge advantage for family vacationers. 

DTC Thrasio
DTC Thrasio

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