February 01, 2023
Few innovations have transformed the hunting world over the past two decades like trail cameras, those now indispensable scouting tools that assist hunters in trying to pattern and/or inventory game in their hunting areas.
When it comes to trail-camera technology, one of the industry leaders is undoubtedly Browning Trail Cameras, offering a complete line of cameras for all interests and price ranges. Its products range from high-end cellular cameras with all the bells and whistles to more affordable options for individuals who are budget-conscious or simply need multiple cameras to cover various properties. One of the company’s most intriguing, new offerings is the Defender Pro Scout Max, a wireless cam that falls right in the middle of Browning's price range and is designed to meet the needs of almost any hunter.
When my Defender Pro Scout Max arrived in July, I was eager to test it in the woodlot at my house and found that activating the camera was an easy process. To start, you simply download Browning’s Strike Force Wireless app on your mobile device, pop in the SD card, turn on the camera, enter the control panel and scan the QR code that appears. It’s that simple!
As for setting up the camera, initial adjustments are made in the settings menu by scrolling up and down via the camera’s buttons. You can also enter the Strike Force app to choose, and later adjust, your preferences. The camera works with both Verizon and AT&T, and data plans start at just $9.99 per month.
In regard to image quality, the Defender Pro Scout Max offers a variety of options, including the ability to take high-quality photos up to 20 MP. Trigger speed is adjustable down to a fast .25-second to ensure you don’t miss shots of animals as they pass by, and the camera boasts a 100-foot detection range and a 120-foot infrared flash range for nighttime images.
When it comes to its nighttime photo technology, the Defender Pro Scout Max features what Browning calls “RADIANT 6” illumination, high-performance LEDs that are designed to deliver better nighttime illumination than previous generations of LEDs, yet produce only a low-glow, infrared “glimmer” to greatly reduce camera visibility that might spook game. Capturing good, clear nighttime shots is always tough, since you’re dealing with moving animals under poor lighting conditions. Browning, however, tries to mitigate this challenge by offering three different modes for its flash. These include “Fast Motion” for situations such as monitoring game trails where animals are always on the move, and “Long Range,” where the flash can reach out to 120 feet.
While I typically only take single shots, since most of my cameras are set up on trails and travel corridors, if you plan to cover a feeder or food plot, the camera has different settings for snapping multiple images. These include “Standard,” where you can take 2-8 images every 3 seconds, and “Rapid Fire,” where the camera will snap up to eight photos with only .3-second between each picture.
Individuals who prefer as much intel as possible while trying to put together the deer-hunting puzzle will also appreciate the info bar on the photos. Data includes not only date, time and temperature, but also moon phase and barometric pressure. The app then allows you to organize images by your favorites, date/time, moon phase, temperature and more. Put it all together, and it’s helpful info in trying to determine when and why a given deer is passing by the camera at a given time.
In addition to photos, the Defender Pro Scout Max takes HD video (1600x900 pixels at 30 fps) with sound. Plus, Smart IR Video capability directs the camera to only take video as long as the subject is moving. If the animal passes out of the camera’s range, it stops recording. That’s a great feature that not only saves battery life but helps eliminate clips that only have deer or turkeys in them for a few seconds.
One of the pluses to wireless cams is they allow you to keep your intrusion in the woods to a minimum, but they can also chew through batteries quickly, depending on how many images you capture and how often you transmit. That said, the Defender Pro Scout Max is designed to run for up to a year on eight AA batteries. Plus, the app allows you to monitor battery life remotely. — Associate Editor Mark Demko