1. What Is a Trail Camera?
  2. Advantages of Trail Cameras
  3. What is Fair-Chase hunting?
  4. Why Is Fair Chase Hunting So Important?
  5. Fair Use of Trail Cameras
  6. Legal Requirements for Trail Cameras in Different States
  7. How to Use a Trail Camera Legally
  8. Conclusion

Trail cameras have become increasingly popular among hunters and wildlife enthusiasts alike. But what are the rules and ethics that should be taken into account when using trail cameras? In this article, we'll look at the regulations and ethical considerations surrounding their use for hunting and wildlife monitoring so that you can stay within the law and make sure your activities remain respectful to nature.

What Is a Trail Camera?

A trail or game camera is placed in the field by a photographer to observe or detect animals in an area with minimal disturbance. The sensor can trigger the camera when a temperature change is detected. Once triggered by the PIR sensor, the camera generates a series of photos or short videos according to the shooting settings. Finally, these generated pictures or videos are saved in a micro memory card for later viewing.

Advantages of Trail Cameras

The trail camera can be used for farm protection, forest hunting, garden viewing, and more. When you are not on the scene, you can use the trail camera to observe what animals are doing to protect the property or increase the fun of your life. While hunters primarily use trail cameras, wildlife observers and wildlife researchers also find them useful for wildlife monitoring and research.

Reduce dependence on weather and seasonal changes. Thanks to these trail cameras and their long continuous battery life, a good trail camera will allow you to track animals and observe nature all year round in any weather. You can also enjoy tracking animals and observing nature in the off-season or throughout the year, preparing you for your next safari.

Easier to observe animals. It allows people to quietly monitor the local environment without leaving smells and making noise. Allows better access and observation of discreet animals without disturbing them. It is beneficial to understand the activity track and habits of animals.

Save time. Tracking animals takes skill and requires you to spend a lot of time and energy outdoors. The trail camera only needs to find the correct installation position, which can let you focus on the important things and can help you collect the information you want to observe effortlessly.

The availability and popularity of trail cameras have also led to questions about fair pursuits.


trail camera


What is Fair-Chase hunting?

"The ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over the game animals." This is the definition of fair chase hunting given by Boone and Crockett.

Mention of hunting bucks or bulls brings up the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club, two organizations that might qualify for the record books. The functions of these organizations include advocating for fair chase rules, which were adopted a century ago when forward-thinking conservationists such as Teddy Roosevelt sought to save declining wildlife populations.

"Trail cameras can be a helpful tool in game management and selective hunting," the Boone and Crockett Club states. "The use of devices that transmit captured or live images from the field back to the hunter crosses the line of fair chase."

Trail cameras make it harder for hunters to behave fairly and ethically in the wild. The most obvious way trail cameras make hunting unfair is by letting people see the animal before it is hunted. This is more advantageous than other hunters who don't use trail cameras, breaking the principle that all people should have an equal opportunity to shoot the game without interference from technology or others. It only needs to be quietly installed somewhere in the deep forest, and with the help of trees, it will be easier for people to obtain the loot they want.

However, with the development of technology and the use of hunting. Boone and Crockett's fair chase statement goes on to say that the fair chase hunter "defines 'unfair advantage' as when the game does not have a reasonable chance of escape" and that he or she "uses technology in a way that does not diminish the importance of developing skills as a hunter or reduces hunting to just shooting."

"Trail cameras can be a helpful tool in game management and selective hunting," the Boone and Crockett Club states. "The use of devices that transmit captured or live images from the field back to the hunter crosses the line of fair chase."

While hunting, cameras can be useful tools. However, the combined use of night vision devices, range finders, rifle scopes, drones, and real-time transmission trail hunting cameras is still a violation of fair pursuit ethics. Also, it destroys the unique experience that hunting should have. "This is where technology disrupts the hunting experience when it becomes a substitute for using basic skills in the field."

Why Is Fair Chase Hunting So Important?

"We're trying to ensure that hunting continues by maintaining public acceptance of hunting. Fair chase is still important to save wildlife, but it's not at the level of behavior modification that it was at the beginning when our wildlife was literally on the brink," says Spring.

The use of technology creates unequal hunting opportunities among hunters. Moreover, as hunting becomes easier to cause more large animals to die, it directly affects the food chain of local organisms, the natural balance is broken, and eventually leads to the reduction or extinction of species. With the use of hunting cameras, there will be a large amount of waste that is not biodegradable or recyclable. These include replacement waste batteries, plastics, and packaging. These non-biodegradable wastes may end up in the environment and harm nearby wildlife, leading to problems such as imbalance and destruction of the ecosystem.


trail camera


Shot by @jvr_wildlife with a Campark T180 Solar trail Camera

Fair Use of Trail Cameras

"B&C is in support of technological advances in hunting equipment and techniques as long as these tools do not undermine a positive public image of hunting and diminish the skills necessary to be a fair and responsible hunter or set a bad example for young hunters."

Trail cameras help spark the passions of hunters, wildlife spotters, and land managers. Appropriate use can help them observe and protect wildlife, make decisions that benefit them, and manage resources wisely. As B&C puts it, tools should serve as a positive and positive guide for young hunters.

The use of wireless cameras may be improved in several ways to meet the definition of fair pursuit.

Photo or video transfers, preferably 24 hours, impose a delay to ensure images are not received the first time. Or after getting the shooting information the first time, it can be extended to 24 hours before going to the scene instead of appearing in front of the prey and killing it as soon as the picture of the prey is received.

Reduce over-reliance on technical tools. Using a trail camera with your weapons (such as long-range rifles, odor eliminators, rangefinders, rifle scopes, etc.) crosses the line to a certain extent.

Not hunting during seasons when hunting is prohibited and releasing young animals. Trail cameras can be used for biodiversity and sustainability following state laws and opening hunting times rather than during off-season hunting. When you see young animals, you can choose to give up hunting. This is an effective behavior for the continuation and protection of the species, and it also meets the requirements of sports and human ethics.

trail camera

While trail cameras are legal in many areas, regulations restrict their use on certain lands. But not every state allows them, especially in the western United States. The following are the requirements for the use of trail cameras in some states in the United States:

Oregon, South Dakota, Minnesota, Idaho, Missouri

It is legal to use trail cams.

California, Pennsylvania

It is not an offense to use a trail camera during hunting season.

Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire

trail cameras are allowed. But if you're using trail cameras on private property, you must get permission to install them before setting them up. Additionally, installing trail cameras on military bases or any type of property is illegal.

The state of Wisconsin

trail cameras are allowed. It can be placed on private or public land but requires permission from the landowner or public land manager to place a trail camera there.

Oklahoma, Indiana

It is illegal to fail to indicate that the trail camera owner's name, address, phone number, or customer identification number is issued by DNR.

Wyoming, Montana

The law restricts the use of mobile trail cameras to hunt animals.


Trail cameras are prohibited. 31 Public or private property. The rule also prohibits the sale or purchase of any footage or data that could be used to film, attempt to film, or assist in filming or film big games, cougars, or bears.

Nevada, Arizona

Trail cameras are prohibited. Kurt Davis, chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Commission, said in June that the commission determined the cameras violated fair pursuit principles.


On March 9, 2023, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks voted to ban the use of cellular and traditional trail cameras on all public lands in the state. These include the KDWP and Walk-In Hunting Access properties.

For details, please refer to State laws.

How to Use a Trail Camera Legally

  • Both hunters and non-hunters can buy trail cameras, but please check your local laws before purchasing or using a hunting camera. Because it is illegal to use a hunting camera in some areas, it must be legally owned and used according to local laws.
  • Make sure to only use your trail camera during hunting season and not out of season. So find out in advance when local hunts start and end.
  • Find out about usage requirements for local parks and wildlife parks. Some parks are allowed to use, while some places prohibit the use of trail cameras in wild parks and nearby public areas.
  • Do not install ttrail cameras on military bases or property of any kind.
  • They may not be used on private land without the owner's permission.


Trail cameras provide a convenient way to confirm wildlife activities without going directly to the area. At the same time, they provide hunters and property owners with different interesting experiences and perspectives, making trail cameras more and more popular. Campark is one of the industry leaders in the trail camera market, offering professional-grade equipment and a variety of trail camera options designed to meet the different needs of customers in various scenarios. If you need a 4G trail camera, low light trail camera, or no grow-light trail camera, please feel free to contact us.

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