Bear Cameras

 

Update: The trail cameras I use were left on a tributary of the Pitt River for four weeks resulting in some unique footage of Grizzly and Black Bears. This footage over 8 gigabytes in all showed Grizzly Bears and Black Bears hunting for salmon day and night sometimes in close proximity. It also showed that Black Bears are poor hunters of live salmon and the Grizzly Bears of the Pitt River are a little better at it. The video called The Fishing Bears of the Pitt River was primarily made with the Bushnell Trophy cameras and additional footage was filmed with a Nikon D7000 and the Nikon Coolpix AW100 underwater digital camera. For more on the Bushnell Trophy cameras read on.

I have been receiving a few questions on theTV news item showing a Grizzly Bear video I captured in the Upper Pitt River (the Global TV report is linked here).

The footage captured by a remote game camera became newsworthy as it showed a Grizzly Bear trying to catch salmon in an area just 30 miles from Vancouver, B.C and in an area they are not known to live. I have been using remote cameras since the late 1970s mostly working at sporting events or aerial photography, but these game cameras are amazingly simple and fun to operate.

A frame grab from the GrizzCam

My original YouTube of the Grizzly Bear can be viewed here, see the Grizzly Bears fishing in the Pitt River Valley . Most of the questions I get are about the camera I used to capture the footage and how does the camera work. The cameras I used are “Game or Trophy Cameras” normally used by hunters to see what game comes and goes from their hunting areas and there are many of these cameras on the market. They cost between $200 – $500 dollars and are available at most large hunting/sporting goods retailers. I did a lot of research earlier this year on the cameras brands, models and features and finally settled on the Bushnell “Trophy HD” Trophy Cam (Color Model).

The Bear Cams ready for action

The camera shoots either video or still images with a maximum pixel size of 8 megapixels in still mode or 1920×1080 HD Video. It also has a Infrared nighttime mode assisted by 8 IR LED lighting which can’t be seen with the eye and carries to about 45 feet. It will shoot up to 60 seconds of video at a session and still images at user programmable intervals.

Twelve “AA” batteries power the camera and takes SD cards of up to 32gb in size. Make sure to get large memory cards, as the battery life is remarkable. And in video mode I placed the camera in the field for 2 weeks and captured over 16 gigabytes of data barely affecting the batteries. The camera is also water resistant which means it can be left in the field under the most inclement weather conditions.

The camera I use also has a small LCD screen so that test video can be taken and viewed in the field to check the angle of your shot. The setup of the cameras is not exactly intuitive when using the menus and I would suggest careful reading of the manual and shooting of some test videos at home before you head out into the bush.

Tree mounted with a stick stuck behind to shim the camera position up

The mounting of the camera is not as simple as it seems. Using the strap to attach the camera to a tree is simple enough, but refining the angle to get your shot requires putting a shim (a small stick for instance) to adjust the camera to shoot up or down a little. There is an accessory tree mount you can get for under $20, which will make the mounting of the camera a simple matter (see the links below). I also carry a small level to make sure the video shot has a straight horizon.

Other considerations

Place your camera carefully think about the game, the trails and feeding locations of the creatures you want to capture. Make sure the camera has a clear sightline (no overhanging trees, or bushes) and try not to disturb your chosen location too much when placing the cameras.

The cameras will carry a scent that animals can smell, and also your handling of the camera will leave a scent on the camera and the area. When I placed my first camera on a game trail to try and capture a cougar, a large Black Bear came over and liked the lens! See Bears on the Pitt River here.

On another occasion a camera I placed on a trail had a Black Bear walk by it 4 times over 5 days. The 5th time the bear came by it caught a smell of it, didn’t like it and bashed it around eventually knocking it to the ground. See the The Black Bear Bash here.

On my last shoot with 3 of these cameras placed within feet of Grizzly and Black Bears they didn’t notice the cameras at all, and sometimes seem to pose for a picture.

A Black Bear poses for the camera

The reason for this is the cameras were placed near a stream full of spawning salmon, so the bears were more interested in the smells of the food source and had keyed in on that scent. During this outing the cameras were in place for two weeks and I have over 3 hours of video to review, edit and produce. So stay tuned for the “Bears in the Woods” feature to come.

Links:

Bushnell Trail Camera

Bushnell Tree Mount



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