Scouting is half the hunt. There was a day when a walking stick and some serious legwork meant the extent of a pre-season game plan. Enter trail cameras and the evolution of modern optics.
Things that go bump in the night now tell bowhunters detailed stories that improve the odds during shooting light. One-hundred yards may as well be the new petting distance with today's clarity and resolution options.
See which new trail cameras and optics BOWHUNTING recommends adding to your gear portfolio in 2015:
Bushnell | 14MP Trophy Cam Aggressor
The new 14MP Bushnell
Trophy Cam Aggressor offers fast, .2-second trigger speed, quick, one-second recovery time, extended nighttime photo range and one-year battery life. The 14MP, high-definition imaging and 1080p HD video with audio provides industry-leading clarity in all conditions. It's offered in two Low-Glow IR models and two No-Glow models, complete with black LEDs that are invisible to game and humans. The low-profile case holds eight AA batteries.
They are offered in Low-Glow Brown, Low-Glow Realtree Xtra, brown and Realtree Xtra No-Glow.
223 - $
Stealth Cam | GXW
all-new GXW trail camera provides wireless image transmission to mobile devices combined with some of the most sophisticated trail-cam technology available. It gives you 12MP, 8MP or 4MP image resolution and 1080p HD video. Transmission compressed resolution comes out at 640x360 at the high end, 320x180 on the low, with 320x180 video via H264 compression.
The unit includes a backlit, two-inch color LCD screen and 45 Black IR emitters reaching to 100 feet. Reflex Triggering provides .4-second response time. It also includes Matrix Advanced Blur Reduction, Retina Low Light sensitivity, a 16:9 wide-angle lens, GEO-TAG GPS positioning and pre-set or manual programming, among other features. It accepts SD cards up to 64 GB and operates on 12 AA batteries.
Browning | BuckWatchHD
Browning's newest line of trail cameras includes BuckWatchHD technology
to provide higher-quality video with sound that is sharp enough to watch on the biggest widescreen televisions. The Recon Force and Spec Ops series include 1920x1080 HD video with sound, and the Strike Force and Dark Ops sub-micro series have also been updated for 2015, providing 1280x720 HD video with sound.
All include excellent still-image quality, fast trigger speeds and recovery times, self-adjusting nighttime illumination, and at a price that should make just about everyone pleased in the
140 - $
Comanche Outfitters | Kodiak Series
trail cameras from Comanche Outfitters offer the hunter fully integrated WiFi functionality, delivering remote image and video files to your phone. Using the company's Kodiak Viewer app for iPhones, you can select from multiple cameras and quickly and easily download data.
The remote retrieval function operates from several hundred feet away to keep stand sites fresh and scent-free and allows switching between any number of cameras situated in the same area. The Kodiak Viewer app also allows sharing photos and videos on outlets such as Facebook, YouTube and e-mail. Cameras include a 12MP image sensor, 720p HD video recording with audio and 40 IR LED emitters.
Cuddeback | Black Flash E3
The Black Flash E3
trail camera from Cuddeback offers superior design and function at an affordable price. Like other Cuddeback cameras, it provides quarter-second trigger speed, but now in a smaller housing. Black flash won't alert animals or humans and gives this unit a 50-foot range.
Zone Control technology allows matching detection cones to terrain — from 4:3 to 16:9 ratios. Choose five different MP settings, day/night modes, different day/night delays and burst modes. It also includes time lapse and video with sound. Time stamp automatically adjusts for daylight savings and includes moon phase. Eight AA batteries provide a year of operation.
Zeiss | Terra XB75 2-7x32 Crossbow Scope
The new Terra XB75 2-7x32 crossbow scope from Zeiss
was designed to meet the special needs of crossbow hunters. It offers shooters the ability to determine aiming points from 20-75 yards, in 2.5-yard increments, via six separate crosshairs with incremental dots. Of course it also includes Zeiss German engineering and unsurpassed optical performance in a lightweight, rugged, one-inch tube design.
Bright, high-contrast SCHOTT glass and MC anti-reflective coatings eliminate the need for an illuminated reticle. Ocular-ring speed engravings allow programming for your crossbow's speed (275-425 fps) with ¼-MOA adjustments. The scope is backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Nikon | Prostaff 7S
The Prostaff 7S
binocular from Nikon Sport Optics includes a sleek, ergonomic body and improved optical system. Featuring fully multi-coated lenses and phase-corrected prisms, the Prostaff 7S provides sharper images with superior resolution and clarity.
Variations include 8x42 and 10x42 models, as well as compact 8x30 and 10x30 versions. The ergonomic design and durable, rubber-armored body make them easy to handle, and the multi-click, turn-and-slide rubber eyepieces are compatible for those with or without eyeglasses. Prostaff 7S binoculars are nitrogen filled and o-ring sealed for waterproof/fogproof assurance and backed by a Nikon limited lifetime warranty.
190 (8x models), $
200 (10x models), $
220 (Realtree Xtra Green)
ION | CamoCam Action Camera
The new CamoCam
Action camera from iON is skinned in Realtree Xtra camouflage and is extremely compact, lightweight and completely waterproof. This makes it perfect for outdoor pursuits, as its special barrel mount makes it easy to attach to any bow stabilizer and catch point-of-view action. It also pairs with iON's other mounts. The 14MP sensor delivers superior image quality and 60 fps HD video.
It also includes WiFi connectivity via a PODZ upload, allowing you to share your videos on social media through iON's iOS or Android app. It includes one-touch, silent recording with the flip of a switch, as well as a 180-degree, wide-angle lens. The camera's battery provides 2.5 hours of recording time on a single charge.
Leica | Geovid HD-B 42 Laser Rangefinding Binocular
Leica's award-winning Geovid HD-B 42
Laser Rangefinding Binocular combines exceptional optical quality with quick, accurate rangefinding capabilities. The ergonomic, bridged frame is easy to handle, even in wet weather or while wearing gloves.
Advanced ballistics technology enables users to create their own custom programs for specific weapons via Advanced Ballistic Compensation (ABC) and supplied micro SD card. Lenses are fully multicoated, and the unit is waterproof. They are available in 8x42 and 10x42 models.
2,945 - $
Celestron | LandScout Porro Prism Series
The new LandScout Porro Prism
binocular series from Celestron offer durability, quality lenses and a host of other features. Treestand hunters will love the compact dimensions. Large exit pupils give them low-light clarity, while BaK-4 prisms increase contrast and resolution for sharper images and detail.
They are fully multi-coated to further increase light transmission. They are nitrogen purged and fully fog and waterproof. They are tripod adaptable and come with lens caps, neck strap, rainguard, lens cloth, carrying case and a limited lifetime warranty. They're offered in 7x35, 10x50 and 12x50 models.
90 - $
HCO Outdoor Products | Spartan GoCam
The Spartan GoCam
is a scouting camera that sends motion-triggered or time-lapse images to e-mail or cell phone via the AT&T or Verizon Wireless networks. For AT&T, the SIM card is included and activated online, making it essentially ready to use out of the box.
There are no contracts, and you pay as you go using the AT&T DataConnect Pass mobile broadband plan costing $14.99 per month. For Verizon, no SIM card is required as the camera uses Verizon's Custom Machine to Machine data plans. Activate, deactivate or reactivate your Spartan GoCam at any time on either wireless network.
The camera is powered by 12 AA batteries and has a trigger speed of less than one second, a black IR flash, a 60-foot illumination, up to 8MP resolution stills and 720p HD video. The unit includes a two-inch color screen and two-year warranty.
399.99 (AT&T), $
Alpen Optics | Rainier 25-75x86
Alpen Optic's new Rainier 25-75x86
Spotting Scope has won accolades for both its low-light performance and resolution quality in independent testing. The scope includes a 45-degree eyepiece for easy viewing that won't put a crick in your neck.
ED HD technology produces glass with extra-low dispersion, high definition and exceptional clarity. UBX fully multi-coated optics, BaK-4 prisms and SHR metallic coating — plus a large 86mm objective lens — are all part of the Rainier's exceptional light transmission and image clarity. An adjustable body collar allows turning the scope for ultimate viewing comfort. They're o-ring sealed and nitrogen-filled to be fully fog and waterproof for use in any kind of weather. A rugged rubber armoring keeps the scope safe from hard knocks.
Swarovski | STR 80
Swarovski Optik North America introduces the all-new STR 80
Spotting Scope. It offers unsurpassed HD optics and an illuminated MOA or MRAD reticle with 15 brightness levels, allowing estimating distances while spying on long-range targets. The reticles can be removed from view and change size with magnification for accurate 1Z4 MOA or .10th MRAD increments.
The unit otherwise acts as a standard spotting scope. The 20-60x and 25-50xW (wide) eyepieces allow choosing the configuration most useful to your kind of hunting. Specialty coatings include Swarodur, Swarotop and Swaroclean. Three Picatinny rails and a winged eyecup can be purchased separately.
Nikon | Arrow ID 5000
Nikon's new Arrow ID 5000
includes advanced ID (Incline/Decline) Technology, which automatically provides a compensated range for steep up or downhill shots or those from elevated treestands. Tru-Target Technology also allows users to choose between first target priority and distant target priority modes. The screen displays ranges in .1-yard increments from 5-600 yards.
The unit wears multicoated optics and includes waterproof/fogproof characteristics and pocket-sized portability. The long eye relief includes an adjustable, 6X diopter. The rangefinder operates on a CR2 lithium battery and comes with a Realtree APG neoprene case and two-year warranty.
Stealth Cam | NVM Digital Night Vision Monocular
The new NVM Digital Night Vision Monocular
from Stealth Cam gives you a range of more than 400 feet during the blackest nights. It accomplishes this through an advanced low-light CMOS sensor and 1-Watt IR illuminator.
The unit includes a 9X digital zoom, a 1.5-inch high-resolution TFT display and 30, 25, 15 or 8 fps adjustable transmission rates. The 3x20mm high-quality objective lens also includes an IR filter for day use. The works are housed in an ABS high-impact case with no-slip rubber grip. It includes a 7-degree field of view, operates on four AA batteries and includes carry case.
Minox | DTC 400 SLIM
The German-made Minox DTC 400 SLIM Wildlife Camera
lives up to its name by offering one of the narrowest profiles in the business. The camouflage, waterproof housing is only an inch thick and lightly curved to fit snuggly against tree trunks and offer increased concealment. The unit includes a MINOCAR lens to provide distortion-free still or video images.
The powerful IR flash offers a 49-foot range, activated by a trigger speed of less than one second. The camera also offers six-month battery life, easy-to-use navigation and a 2-inch true-color TFT display screen. The camera comes with a fastening strap, SD card and USB cable.
Buckeye Cam | X80 Wireless Remote Repeater/Sensor Unit
Buckeye Cam's X80 Wireless Remote Repeater/Sensor Unit
helps bridge the gap on widely spaced Buckeye cameras for extended range. The X80 Wireless Sensor gives you the ability to extend transmission range with a built-in repeater feature. It can be used as a remote trigger for one or more cameras, tied into a ground sensor platform or placed in areas that may not need a camera to monitor activity levels. Sensors can be added to existing X80 Wireless Series camera systems.
The units are about the size of an iPhone and easy to operate. They run for months on five AA batteries or can be attached to a 12-volt SLA battery pack for extended use. It can be programmed to act as a remote PIR sensor or as a remote trigger for cameras. By adding the 12-volt SLA battery pack, the sensor can also be used as a repeater to extend wireless range between cameras and base without the need to use a camera as the main repeater hub.
Campbell Camera | Extended Reach Mount
The Extended Reach Mount
from Campbell Cameras is a tree arm for small POV and compact cameras allowing you to extend it up to 33.5 inches to create that unique second camera angle.
The arm features a ball socket with a standard ¼-inch, 20-thread per inch connector allowing you to rotate your camera 360 degrees and tilt it up to 90 degrees.
Bushnell | Trophy Cam Essential HD
The new Trophy Cam Essential HD
from Bushnell offers more advanced and exclusive features than any other trail camera in this price point, including a variety of adjustable settings and a fast, .3-second trigger speed.
They make the perfect choice for those who need a bevy of scouting cameras to meet their needs. The 12 MP resolution ensures sharp images, along with 720p HD video. The compact case is easy to hide and eight AA batteries power the unit for up to an entire year. The PIR sensor is motion activated out to 80 feet and the Low-Glow IR night flash won't alarm game.
Wildgame Innovations | K Series Cloak 4 and LightSout 4
The K Series Cloak 4 and K Series LightSout 4 from Wildgame Innovations
both incorporate top features like 1-second trigger speed, still and video capabilities and long-range flash. The Cloak includes an Invisible LED flash less visible to deer, whereas the LightSout High-Intensity Invisible Black LED IR flash is completely invisible to deer.
LightSout also features FlexTime, Time Lapse Technology, 4MP resolution, 720 HD video, 30-piece LED flash and 16:9 Wide Angle lens. The Cloak includes similar features with an 18-piece high-output LED flash. Both cameras include a 50-foot range, accept 32GB SD cards and operate on eight AA batteries.
Varies by model
Moultrie | A-7i
all-new A-7i trail camera is designed to help capture images of even the most skittish deer in the woods without breaking the bank. Built on the platform of the proven A-5, the A-7i is now the lowest-priced invisible flash camera in the Moultrie family.
It includes black LEDs invisible to man and beast, as well as an improved design to further conceal its presence and improve weather resistance. Other improvements include faster trigger speed and three-image multi-shot capabilities. The A-7i operates on AA batteries for improved battery life.
Hunter Safety System | Buck Spotter Mobile App
Hunter Safety System's new Buck Spotter Mobile App
is available on iTunes and Google Play and is specifically created to help you stay connected with other hunters and find new places to hunt.
The app gives you the ability to share photos, see who is out hunting and find out where big bucks are being taken before, during or after the hunt. The app is free and features real-time hunting reports from many of the hunting world's biggest celebrities.
Spypoint | MINI-LIVE-4GV
Stay connected to your hunting area no matter where you are with the new MINI-LIVE-4GV
cellular camera from Spypoint via the Verizon Wireless network. After completing your setup for a mySPYPOINT subscription, you'll be able to fully configure your camera, receive photos and get theft-alert notifications — all without stepping into the field.
Features include 62 invisible LEDs, 10MP photos, HD video recording with sound and a new compact design for the case. The camera runs on six AA batteries and includes an installation strap, mounting bracket, a USB cable and a quick-start guide.
Carson Optical | HookUpz Universal
The HookUpz Universal
from Carson Optical connects most popular smartphones to any optical device in seconds, allowing you to take quality, magnified images or videos.
The Universal adaptor is compatible with most microscopes, binoculars, monoculars, spotting scopes, telescopes, night vision, borescopes and more with eyepiece diameters from 20-58mm. It attaches to smartphones without adhesives or complications with a self-centering clamp with release grips.