I started using trail cameras about 6 years ago. At that time, trail cameras were just starting to change from film to digital. I struggled with the early cameras due to hardware and software inefficiencies and just the fact that this technology was so brand new. Over the past few years as the cameras improved, I have built up an arsenal of 11 cameras. As you have read on my site, I have deployed my cameras in many ways and I consider myself more than a novice when using them.
A few months ago, I saw a well known game biologist using a top end trail camera (~$600) to take time elapse photos of a field in order to figure out where and when the turkeys were moving. I was unaware of time elapse capable cameras and I was quickly impressed by it. I personally cannot afford that brand of camera so I let the thought pass.
Shown below are some photos of this camera. Photos are from the Chasingame.com Website.
The PlotWatcher camera is a time elapse camera that costs around $200. Needless to say, I was impressed and I emailed them for a demo to test and write about on my Website. Rich, one of the owners, sent me one and was quick to point out that their camera is not meant to replace trail cameras but instead compliment it with a different type of data intelligence gathering for a hunter. He also pointed out that most of us use these tools to try to be more successful in our hunting ventures and this is another tool to help increase our odds if used correctly.
With this in mind, I started thinking about how I could us the PlotWatcher. The most obvious usage is to determine when and where deer are entering food plots. This could be handy in determining where to hang a stand and what time to hunt it. Also, it can tell you what kinds of deer are feeding in that area.
Next, I determined that I could use it the same way for turkeys. More and more people, including me, are using their trail cameras for scouting turkeys. In my opinion, the PlotWatcher might be better suited for this than trail cameras; especially in the spring when turkeys are doing their mating rituals in wide open areas.
Then, a few days later, I received a phone call about trespassers joy riding ATVs on one of our leases. Then it hit me to hang a PlotWatcher up in a tree to try to catch them. We are making preparations to try this idea and I am hoping for success. I will update you guys if we are successful in this new hunting venture.
So, with all these case uses in mind, I started to testing the camera. Now my review is not as in depth as Chasingame.com Website. These guys dissect everything, down to the nuts and bolts. Click here to read their Full Review on this camera. My review is from a general user using this product to determine the best ways to deploy it in the field.
The PlotWatcher uses 4 AA batteries and a USB thumb drive. I went out and bought an 8 gb drive (Verbatim Store’n'Go) for my test based on their recommendation. Day 6 has determined that certain drives use high speed data write technology to maximize battery performance (View their recommended USB drives).
Important Note: My luck stands true with new gear, and the 8 Gb USB drive that I bought from Office Max was defective and would not work correctly in the camera. Rich and their computer guy (Michael) helped me debug the system till I figured out it was the USB drive. I swapped the broken one for a new one and everything worked like advertised. These guys went over and above to help trouble shoot my problem.
You can configure the PlotWatcher either by turning the dial located inside the camera or you can custom configure it by using their software and writing the files to the USB drive. They have 6 different default time settings or you can custom designate the time using their software. I chose to test mine on 5 and 10 seconds all day. When I say all day, the camera only works during daylight hours. When it gets five dark photos, it shuts off for the night. It also can be programmed to shut down during the middle of the day when animal movement is minimal to increase battery life.
Now that I had the PlotWatcher ready to go, I ran a series of tests. You can place the camera in a monopod stick mount that comes with the camera or you can fasten it to a tree with the included straps. Since my hunting lease is located around a bunch of outlaws where a few of our trail cameras have been stolen, I decided to come up with a way to secure the Plot Watcher. I came up with the ole baking pan, couple of holes, and a good python cable as shown below in the photos. I then attached it to the tree. Maybe this will slow down any potential thief.
The actual PlotWatcher camera is only half of the system. Day 6 includes viewing software to assist you in viewing the daily clips in a speedy fashion. With this software you can view the photos like a video at different speeds. You can look at a whole day’s video in a few minutes. They even include a search function that can find animals in the photos. This feature actually worked better than I thought. It senses changes in one photo from the next and stops to display the change. Also, with this software you are able to download photos and videos of certain events. Shown below are a few screenshots of the software from the Chasingame.com Website.
I have compiled a video that consists of setting up the camera, my actual game shots, and their software in action that you can view below.
I am totally impressed with the PlotWatcher and I want to thank Rich for allowing me to try it out. I am going to keep my demo units and I have them currently deployed on my hunting lease. Stay tune for more clips because I am sure there are going to be some interesting video caught by this new innovative camera system.
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