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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:18 pm 
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I think I finally have a spot where I can get a mountain lion pretty reliably every six weeks or so. so far I have used trail cams but now I am thinking it may be worth to build a DSLR trap. The spot is fairly remote but especially during hunting season some people pass through that area and I have had two trail cams disappear (probably stolen) during hunting season.

Makes me wonder how others handle this. I need very long battery life since I get animals only every few weeks or months. And if I use external flashes I need to lock down the camera box plus the flashes since some a..s..o..e will steal them otherwise. Do you lock down your equipment and all of it? How do you handle batteries? I have two 12V batteries that should last quite a bit but I am not sure how much the flashes draw.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:32 pm 
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This is a great question and I don't have an ideal solution, someone else here might. I'm considering building some radio trackers to put in my expensive camera sets that draw a really small current and don't require cell coverage or satellite, but that's a few months off. I depend on placing cameras where there aren't many people and concealing them with camo paint and decorating them with real/fake plants. All my batteries are inside the same waterproof case as the camera or flash. Things definitely get more risky during hunting season when more people are off trail so I am more careful during those times but only lost one camera in 15 years. On a rare occasion I will also stick an stealthy IR cam out to watch over an SLR set.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:43 pm 
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greengrass wrote:
On a rare occasion I will also stick an stealthy IR cam out to watch over an SLR set.



In the end even if you have the thief on camera there is most likely not much that can be done.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:23 pm 
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aswrwwe wrote:
greengrass wrote:
On a rare occasion I will also stick an stealthy IR cam out to watch over an SLR set.



In the end even if you have the thief on camera there is most likely not much that can be done.



That's definitely true but it still makes me feel better about leaving an expensive setup in the woods when someone might discover it.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:36 pm 
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This topic surfaces every year or two and it's always a good one worth bringing back up. This is a concern that most of us go through. Most of us have lost equipment and some far more than others. Personally, I have lost 4 cameras over the years and 3 of those were all within 5 mins. walk of where you could park a car. All 4 cams were stolen by humans and not one was stolen by an animal. I can attribute every theft as a result of my own complacency and stupidity. Every cam stolen was not camouflaged at all. Let me share with you what I have learned over the past 11 years in this hobby. Some of which has been through the posts shared here on this forum.

You have to treat every camera location as if it could be stolen if discovered. If there is any chance that a person could happen past it then I would deactivate the flash and go strictly daytime pictures. If by chance someone spots your equipment but does nothing. I would remove it pronto and abandon the location. If you don't, your chance of loosing stuff has greatly increased and you will only have yourself to blame, trust me on this one. Lock all of your units with a strong lock. Personally I use steel cases for 95% of my cameras and then use 2 x 3" SS lag bolts to anchor the box to a tree. I prefer to place my cameras 45 degrees to the trail and back a bit to lesson the chance of a passersby from lining up their eyesight to it when walking up to and past it. If at all possible, place your equipment at locations where there is an obstruction on the trail, distraction or a view to the opposite side of the trail from your equipment. Such as fallen logs to step over, muddy sections, creek crossings, log crossings, panoramic views, obvious wildlife trees, large loose boulders/rocks, poop, etc. My point is to have a distraction where a passerby may have their attention drawn down to or opposite of where your equipment is. Sections of wet, unstable, precarious, or challenging trail conditions works well for this as well. Avoid facing any shiny parts or the flash/lens glass of the equipment towards the sun. This lessens the likelihood of reflections which would draw their attention. You may have to keep your equipment above or below eye level of people which keeps it out of their direct line of sight.

The utmost important aspect of theft prevention is to make sure that your valued equipment is not seen in the first place. I Camouflage my equipment with either camo duct tape, liquid dip, creative spray painting job or 3m peel and stick camo vinyl surface. Then after I install it in the field using the above mentioned suggestions. I then use surrounding materials such as branches, twigs, leaves, moss, bark, dried grass etc to further cover up all straight lines and silhouettes. Ideally leaving only the lens, PIR and flash openings exposed. Although, the risk of doing this is that it may encourage spiders to take up home which in turn could result in webs being built in front of the lens or PIR sensor. The wind or snoopy animals, hail/snow may also shift these natural materials in front of the important spots too.

I as well as some other members have used signs posted in obvious areas near the camera and equipment. Reading something like..........WARNING, YOU ARE ENTERING A WILDLIFE STUDY AREA. THIS AREA IS MONITORED BY 24 HOUR MOTION SENSORED CAMERAS. With emphasis on CAMERAS being plural, giving the impression that there is more than one camera. I would like to think that that alone would keep most people honest. If you placed signs up that may entice people to start looking for the camera but if you hid it well. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, at least in a the environment where I live. In around the arid hills of LA, then I would suggest placing your signs a long way away from your camera, one at either end of the trail. You can also aim a camera at another camera as to catch a thief in the act. However, trying to catch and then prosecute a thief takes luck, time and money.

To summarize the criteria that I apply as much as I can...................

- Install cams and equipment as far away from where a motorized vehicle can drive. Dishonest folks will carry tools in their vehicles that can ruin or remove most equipment.
- Install equipment away from the trail, above or below line of sight, angled to the trail and aiming away from the sun.
- Use distractions where passerby's will look down at their foot placement as they walk past. Objects that they have to step over or move around or points of interest at opposite side of your equipment to draw their attention.
- Use strong locks and cases.
- Camouflage everything as much as you can get away with.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:19 pm 
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Great info. Thanks for sharing.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:03 pm 
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All of my cameras (30+) are in steel boxes that have 3D camo of construction adhesive that is painted with camo paint. Each box is locked with a padlock and fastened to a tree or immobile rock with a Python lock and hidden with branches or other vegetation gathered on-site. I'm considering also using artificial leaves glued on the box this summer. All my cameras have a label indicating they have a GPS tracking device -- a bluff, but maybe it will help sometime.

Over the years people have been photographed by the cameras on seven different occasions; four of them have seen the camera, one messed with the camera probably trying to take it, the other three peered at it and moved on. As soon as I get a photo of a human, I remove the camera and usually never put it back in that spot -- if it does go back at that spot it's at least a year later. Last winter one of my cameras was taken, partly my fault since I'd put it fairly close to a trail. No matter what you do, if someone wants it badly enough it will be taken.

Except for the cameras on a friend's farm, the ones behind our house or our son's place and one in a remote location on a property where hunting is not allowed, all of my cameras come out of the field well before any hunting season. That really limits how many photos I get, but I don't want to lose my cameras.

I've never built a DSLR, but there's no doubt they can take outstanding photographs. However, I can't see myself ever building a DSLR camera trap -- they, and their external flashes, are too big to hide easily, I'd prefer to have four or five (or 30) inexpensive cameras than only one DSLR and I'm cheap.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:59 pm 
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Woody Meristem wrote:
All of my cameras (30+) are in steel boxes that have 3D camo of construction adhesive that is painted with camo paint. Each box is locked with a padlock and fastened to a tree or immobile rock with a Python lock and hidden with branches or other vegetation gathered on-site. I'm considering also using artificial leaves glued on the box this summer. All my cameras have a label indicating they have a GPS tracking device -- a bluff, but maybe it will help sometime.

Over the years people have been photographed by the cameras on seven different occasions; four of them have seen the camera, one messed with the camera probably trying to take it, the other three peered at it and moved on. As soon as I get a photo of a human, I remove the camera and usually never put it back in that spot -- if it does go back at that spot it's at least a year later. Last winter one of my cameras was taken, partly my fault since I'd put it fairly close to a trail. No matter what you do, if someone wants it badly enough it will be taken.

Except for the cameras on a friend's farm, the ones behind our house or our son's place and one in a remote location on a property where hunting is not allowed, all of my cameras come out of the field well before any hunting season. That really limits how many photos I get, but I don't want to lose my cameras.

I've never built a DSLR, but there's no doubt they can take outstanding photographs. However, I can't see myself ever building a DSLR camera trap -- they, and their external flashes, are too big to hide easily, I'd prefer to have four or five (or 30) inexpensive cameras than only one DSLR and I'm cheap.


Thanks! I have started to lock all my camera with Python locks. Let's see how they will do this year.

I see your point about the number of cameras but I am kind of motivated by the challenge to get higher quality images. The problem is that in the LA National Forest there are animals but at least from my experience they show much less frequently than in other areas I have seen so battery life is a problem.


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