The invention of the trail camera changed the sport of hunting. Deer surveys are now possible, deer movements are now much more patternable, nocturnal bucks are no longer complete ghosts. The era of these cameras is amazing, but they must be used with some caution when trying to capture pictures of trophy whitetails with them. Getting a large buck on camera is far from tagging that animal. Actually killing that trophy deer is much more difficult. See trail camera use in the field for a complete detailed guide on trail camera use.
I’ve come to trust Bushnell Trail Cameras. This recommendation is reinforced by this incredible trail camera study done by Gear Freaks. If you’re looking to purchase a new trail camera check out this study. Another great resource that has convinced me of the reliability of the Bushnell trail camera is Trail Camera Pro. Their site ranks cameras based on internal reviews that they perform. I’ve come to rely on Trail Camera Pro for a lot of un-basied and sound trail camera information. They currently rank Bushnell, Browning, and Spypoint cameras just behind Recoynx cameras.
The 2010 season marked the first season we began testing Bushnell cameras. Since that time two more Bushnell 8MP XLT cameras have been acquired. In seasons past we added a Bushnell 8MP HD camera to the collection along with a 4th Bushnell 8MP XLT camera. More recently we’ve added two Bushnell 6MP Trophy Cam Essential Cameras to our fleet. At the beginning of 2016 we added a 14 MP Bushnell Aggressor HD No Glow and a 14 MP Bushnell Aggressor HD Low Glow camera to our collection along with a good number of 12 MP Bushnell E2 Essential Cameras. Now with well over ten Bushnell Cameras (now in their 7th season of use on our property) extensive testing has been done on these products. These products are not perfect, but they’ve improved and they continue to improve with every iteration Bushnell creates. The 2016 Bushnell models are very impressive as they’ve addressed their weak links from the 2015 models. The 2017 Bushnell models have been released and look promising. At this point Trail Cam Pro is rating the 2017 Bushnell Aggressor No Glow and Low as the best Bushnell Trail Cameras of 2017.
A strong recommendation can be made to try the Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Aggressor with No-Glow LED Black flash for those looking for a no-glow camera and the Bushnell E2 Essential for the individual looking for one of the best red glow cameras on the market. Trail Camera Pro rates the Bushnell E2 Essential as one of their best cameras of 2016. I’d recommend this camera as my favorite camera for 2016 as well. For the extreme hunter or the hunter with deep pockets consider looking into the Trophy Cam HD Wireless. Bushnell now has this camera on it’s 2nd model and it will wireless sends pictures to the hunter via a cell phone data plan. Bushnell has upgraded this camera in the 2016 lineup and it should be much better then it’s predecessor. The Bushnell E2 Essential camera is was selling for an incredible price on Amazon around $100, but is getting harder to find as the model is fading out and the Bushnell E3 essential is taking it’s place. The wireless camera runs around $350 and up depending on where its purchased, but can be found for around $250 on Amazon. Some of the cheaper Bushnell models of Bushnell are equipped with a red flash that can alert deer from time to time, consider this when purchasing the cheaper models (this issue will be much less common in the 2016 Bushnell camera models). While they are great cameras, they tend to alert deer if not placed at a substantial height (this is true for most LED flash cameras). No matter what version of Bushnell camera is purchased be assured that they work well in all weather conditions. For the best prices on Bushnell Trail Cameras check Amazon. For great battery prices check Amazon, Walmart, Sams Club, Meijer, Menards, or even your local dollar store. Buying AA batteries in a bulk pack of 48 will save you alot of money. Bushnell and Trail Camera Pro recommend using Energizer lithium batteries, the best place to purchase these high end batteries is Sams Club or Amazon. The Energizer lithium batteries last a long time, but that are quite costly. Despite their cost I’ve come to realize they are worth it in every way.
A few final caveats on the Bushnell Cameras and trail cameras in general. One of our Bushnell XLT cameras has had a few issues in the past, I’m still able to keep it running well using Energizer Lithium batteries. It appears Bushnell has done a better job with their new models of camera as I’ve had no screen issues with any of the newer cameras. My only other complaint is that low light pictures in the summer seem to be washed out with a lot of white making the pictures hard to see, specifically in the summer when the leaf cover blocks out sunlight. It is possible other cameras might struggle to get sufficient light to them with leaf foliage high in the summer. Night pictures on the 6MP Trophy Cam Essential Cameras are also average. I will say that all blurring issues appear to be resolved with the Bushnell E2 Essential Camera.
Consider buying a screw in tree mount for cameras. This prevents having to touch or find a suitable tree every time you place the camera in a new spot. An even better option is to develop permeant locations for your cameras. If these locations can be found around water holes, food sources, pinch points, or some area that deer frequent it is recommended to place the camera up high 8′ or so above the ground. If the camera is angled to the ground properly it is still quite effective. The most impressive aspect of this technique is deer rarely if at all easily identifying the camera. Spooky deer are much less likely to be weary of the camera and the area if the camera is placed high up. I take a small step ladder into the woods with me when placing and checking cameras. This hides the cameras from deer and prevents from theft.
Bushnell & Browning Trail Camera Recommendations (in order of preference — price being of great importance):
This list is subject to change as prices change on Amazon.
Bushnell E2 Essential: This is an incredible camera for the price. Probably the best camera you could ever buy for $100. I cannot recommend any camera over this camera with that type of price point. The only negative is that I’ve heard bad things about it’s video, personally I never run video so I cannot comment on that.
Bushnell 14MP Trophy Cam HD Aggressor No Glow: If you’re looking for a high-end Bushnell camera then this $140 camera (select the brown model for this price) is the camera you’re looking for. With 14MP and no glow technology you won’t be spooking deer and you’ll be getting quality pictures of them. The only downside is the night pictures aren’t the best, but if you never want to spook game with an infrared flash then this is one of the best options on the market. I’m also not super impressed with this camera in the summer months with heavy tree cover.
Bushnell 14MP HD Aggressor HD Wireless: I’m not sure how many hunters have switched to wireless trail cameras. In your best locations or far away locations these types of cameras can certainly pay dividends. With an Amazon price point that ranges somewhere around $250 it will likely be the most expensive camera in your fleet. I only can really recommend this camera to those who have deep pockets or to the individual that only wants 1 trail camera and does not plan to buy more. As these cameras come down in price they will be the gold standard.
Here’s a few example pictures from the Bushnell Cameras.
Other Camera Brands
Check with associates and friends before you purchase any camera, but you may also want to consider these other cameras. Cuddeback, and Reconyx which all make solid cameras. I’ve tried two 2016 Strike Force Elite’s they work decent but I had issues with one, so I sent it back to them and they replaced it with a 2017 Bushnell E3 Essential. I would warn against Moultrie cameras priced below $100. These cameras seem to lack the clarity that I prefer. We’ve been gifted a Moultrie A-8 game camera. Many of the pictures seem blurry. They simply do not have the focus that I’ve come to expect from my Bushnell cameras. If you want a cheap camera that runs I have had no problem with the camera working. I just use it in simple situations. The trigger recovery time minimum is 1 minute so generally placing it over some type of food source is the best use for it.