Posted on Mar 13, 2017 by Exodus Team
Does trail camera flash style have a real impact on the game we hunt?
If you're like many, the whole black flash, red flash, and white flash thing can be a bit confusing. What do they even mean or what impact do they have when it comes to scaring, or not scaring, the game we try to capture images of.
To help shed light on the situation, we reached out to 4 trail camera experts, or people who at least use them heavily and can compare results from one flash style to another. In fairness, these opinions are from 4 hardcore mature whitetail hunters, and the question is based on a whitetail deer hunting mindset. If your goal is to just capture cool pictures, or for research purposes, you may have a different opinion!
1. Jeff Sturgis
Sturgis owns and operates Whitetail Habitat Solution, which has given him about every experience possible when it comes to helping others shoot big bucks using strategic strategies. Here's what he had to say about the topic:
"Working with over 600 clients in 22 states since 2005, some very common themes crop up when it comes to which variety of trail cam "flash" spooks the most game. By far, in my own experience since 1999 and those of my clients, IR (red glow) trail cameras can be highly invasive for spooking game. I have even captured deer looking 14' into the air to stare at the glowing red bulbs of an extremely hidden elevated IR trail camera. I often miss the days of the white flash cameras, when outstanding nighttime color photos could be captured at far LESS than the level of invasiveness when compared to IR trail cameras. However, I am very thankful now for blackout trail cam varieties, which carry an extremely low level of invasiveness. All of that being said, it still pays to "hide" each trail camera for daytime use, including, cutting the side profile with an adjacent tree and camera locations at 6-10' high. My choice is by far the blackout cameras and I have actually taken it to the extreme of using blackout cameras at a rate of 100%, on the private and public lands that I hunt."
Jeff's Choice - Black Flash/No Glow
2. David Giarrizzo
David is a co-owner of Tag N Brag and has multiple big bucks under his belt. Running trail cameras across the nation and heavily relying on the inventory he get's from his scouting cameras he shares his thoughts on the great flash styles.
"Personally I am not a fan a white flash. Its a mental thing for me. I can't imagine a white flash going off in the woods and a deer not thinking something of it. The infrared flash is better although I have seen deer spook from it especially in video mode. I can think of one buck in particular on our property in New York that spooked from an infrared video multiple times off of different cameras. With that being said, the cameras that provide a "black" flash are my personal favorite. Sometimes it can diminish the quality of night images but I have never seen a deer react differently whether it is on photo mode or video mode."
David's Choice - Black Flash/No Glow
3. Matt Kline
Our own Co-Founder, Matt will jokingly tell you he's "not a very good deer hunter" but he's ran literally hundreds of cameras in over a dozen states before and after starting Exodus. From the early styles of cameras, to cutting edge technology, Matt share's his experience with various flash styles for trail cameras.
"I love this topic! It's one that I truly believe doesn't have a "one size fits all" type answer. I grew up (and for some reason still find myself) hunting mainly big woods, mountain terrain deer in West Virginia, and now Ohio/Kentucky. I hunt a lot of public land, and we really try to dial in on the oldest buck in a section of timber from year to year. With all the data we've gathered since I started running a lot of cameras several years ago, I can tell you that mature whitetail bucks in this setting just will not tolerate a white or red flash trail camera off of a food source. The only exception to this rule, as with most things whitetail related, is in that magical month of November. The kicker is that there is no concentrated food source in this type of hunting environment and you can't use bait. So for me... I don't have a place for anything but a black flash camera in my arsenal when I'm hunting these areas. I do believe midwestern deer are a different animal, but as we constantly say in our big woods camp "We've worked too hard, why risk it?"
Matt's Choice - No Glow/Black Flash
4. Nick Ventura
Nick is the co-founder and co-star of the sportsman channel series The Life TV, and he's been using trail cameras to help make outdoor television for years. Here are his thoughts on this topic.
"If you think about the reason that all of us use trail cameras, it should be too find out what deer are in an area without them knowing you're there. If I'm using a red flash camera, I feel like I am better off using no camera at all... That's just the way it is. Anytime better technology exists (like black flash cams) I will try to use it to my advantage."
Nick's Choice - No Glow/Black Flash
Most serious deer hunters that we talk to prefer black flash cameras, but that doesn't mean that other types of cameras don't have a place. Lots of guys use red flash cameras with success on food plots, and white flash cameras are much preferred amongst researchers and photographers. At the end of the day, it just depends on what they're being used for. When using them to find and pattern big mature whitetails, we highly recommend black flash/no glow!