Having a trail camera get stolen isn’t a pleasant experience. Not only do you lose your photos and data, but you’re potentially out of a lot of money. In this review, we’ll take a look at some of the best ways to secure a trail camera so that it’s there when you return.
If you’ve never had a trail camera stolen, then consider yourself lucky. Game cameras often go missing even on private property and the reoccurring scenario almost always involves unsecured cameras.
The best ways to secure your game cameras are to put them in a steel housing or locked box, run a cable and lock around the tree, camouflage it better and place it out of the line of sight, and use dummy cameras as a diversion. In this guide, we’ll take a look at each of these methods and discuss what makes them effective for securing trail cameras to avoid theft.
These are the Top 3 Best Ways to Secure a Trail Camera:
Not securing your game cameras is a recipe for disaster. The money and time involved with having a good trail cam monitoring system in place shouldn’t be disrupted by theft that could have been reduced or prevented. With these tips you’ll be able to secure your trail cams to not only protect your investment, but insure that monitoring of your feeders and trails continue without interruption.
1) Secure your trail camera in a locked box or metal housing
Most trail camera thefts are a result of the ease of opportunity. Someone see’s your camera in the open, it’s only mounted with a bungee cord, so they take it. The best way to secure your trail camera is to protect it in a way that someone without the proper tools can take it easily.
The most effective way to do this is by installing a metal lock box that houses the camera. The box mounts to a tree with several screws only accessible by the inside. Additionally, there’s a hole that allows you to run a steel cable through or lock it to the tree.
I’ve had good luck using the Camlockbox like this one:
The steel lock box is only a deterrent. It will foil most people who just happen upon your camera without the right tools to remove it. A good lock box combined with several of the other methods mentioned below will help keep your trail camera secure.
2) Hide your trail camera out of sight and increase your camouflage
Adequate camouflage and camera placement are the two biggest factors to consider when securing your trail camera. If you set your trail camera next to a deer feeder on a t-post, it’s going to stick out big time and become a target for anyone walking by.
Tips for securing game cameras by using placement and concealment:
- Place the camera out of the line of sight (higher up is best)
- Use natural features like terrain and vegetation to your advantage
- Bungee tie small limbs and twigs you find nearby around the camera
- Find tree cavities or stumps to mount the camera inside
- For more tips and tricks on hiding trail cameras from people, check out my guide here.
Instead, methodically review your camera placement options based on terrain, vegetation, and other factors that you can use in your favor. Some of the best places to hide trail cameras are in hollowed tree stumps and cavities along trails that you’ll be monitoring.
Properly camouflaging your camera is also important so that it blends in with its surroundings. Let’s face it, even the best factory camo can’t compete with natural vegetation. One of my favorite tricks is to take bungee cords or zip ties and find twigs and branches nearby that I can secure around the camera.
3) Use dummy cameras to draw attention away from your real camera
This unconventional method is perfect if you’re constantly getting you cameras stolen. Instead of only trying to hide your main camera, place a dummy trail camera nearby where someone is sure to see it. They’ll be so preoccupied with it that they won’t be as concerned to find your hidden ones.
If you use a trail camera with 4G remote monitoring, you can see in real time if someone is messing with your dummy camera and notify authorities promptly. I recommend using a trail camera like the Spy Point Dummy Cam which looks very realistic and is cheap. Click here to check it out at Amazon.
Why dummy cameras can help secure your main trail camera:
- Draws attention away from your main cameras.
- You can monitor dummy cameras remotely with your main camera.
- Inexpensive if it does get stolen.
- Allows you to call authorities to respond appropriately.
Here is a great clip showing the steps involved with securing a trail camera with a lock box.
Tips on How to Keep a Trail Camera from Getting Stolen:
- Use a lock box. Most trail camera thefts are a crime of opportunity.
- Avoid placing the camera at the line of sight. Higher up is best.
- Use natural camouflage like limbs, leaves and twigs to help your camera blend in.
- Mount your camera in the cavity of a tree or stump where it’s less likely to stick out.
- Don’t tell anyone about where your trail cameras are placed.
- Avoid making your own trails to the cameras that might tip off would be thieves.
- Only use no-glow game cameras so they can’t be seen at night.
- Lock your camera to a tree with a python cable and hardened steel lock.
- Use dummy cameras to take pressure off of your main cameras.
- Monitor your dummy cameras with your main cameras remotely. Here’s a list of the best game cameras for monitoring remotely.
- Avoid placing your cameras facing the direction people would normally enter your property (i.e. opposite of roadways or other access points)
How to Secure Trail Cameras
It’s important to remember that these methods are only deterrents. With enough time and resources people can take just about anything. The main takeaway is that people who would steal a game camera are doing so based on ease of opportunity. Don’t give them that opportunity!!!
If someone can’t find your trail camera because you placed it above the line of sight and camouflaged it really well, then you’ve done the best you can do. Locks and steel boxes are a last resort that can always be defeated with the right tools and enough time.
Best ways to secure your trail camera:
- Place it at least 8 feet high
- Use natural vegetation to break up its outline
- Put it in a steel lock box
- Secure steel box with 6-inch heavy duty screws
- Use a python cable and lock to secure it to the tree
The next time you set out your game cams, use each of these methods to help develop a solid game plan to make it as difficult as possible for someone to find and take your cameras.
My advice to accomplish this is to set your cameras 8 feet or more off the ground, use natural vegetation to help break up the cameras outline, mount the camera in a steel box with 6 inch heavy duty screws securing it to the tree, and then use a steel cable and lock around that.
About Trail Cameras
Trail cameras are efficient tools that offer a way to capture photo and video once a motion sensor is triggered. They make great wildlife viewing cameras since they can be set up on trails or feeders to record daily events.
Trail cameras have come a long way since first being introduced. They are now compact, durable, and include some of the most advanced technology of the day. They can be accessed remotely via cellular connection and transmit in real-time to smartphone devices.
Trail cameras CMOS sensors are available up to 16 MP and video can be recorded in 1080 HD with sound. Expandable memory slots allow compatibly with anywhere from 8 GB to 1 TB SD memory cards.
Battery life varies by model; however, most trail cameras use multiple AA batteries that can last several days to a few weeks. It’s important to note that some game cameras require special lithium ion batteries which can be rather expensive to replace. Cameras that take generic rechargeable batteries are always a better choice.
Trail cameras come in a wide range of designs and costs that should all be taken into consideration when deciding which one is right for you. Take the time to compare prices and specs to make sure your next trail camera is capturing everything you need it to.
Ever wanted to know how far a trail cam can take a picture? Check out our guide here.
John is our resident expert on the outdoors. He writes about outdoor gear, camping, traveling, and anything outdoors related. He has over 20 years experience camping and hiking the backwoods of Montana and the plains of Texas. He has traveled extensively all over the world.