5 Tips to Prevent Trail Cameras From Having False Triggers

It is frustrating to check the SD card on your trail camera only to find out that the that the memory card is filled up with pictures and video that have nothing in them because your camera had a bunch of false triggers. Bushnell defines a trail camera as having a false trigger when the passive infrared sensor (PIR sensor) thinks that there is motion and heat in front of the camera lens and captures an image or video when in fact there is no subject in the image.

To make matters worse if your camera has enough of these false triggers it will drain your batteries requiring you to constantly purchase batteries for that trail camera that was supposed to have a battery life of 6 months or more.

Luckily, we have a list of the top 5 easy things you can do to help avoid false triggers with your trail camera.

1) Avoid Placing Trail Camera Where There Will Be Direct Sunlight

Placing the trail camera in direct sunlight can result in false triggers as the sun moves across the sky during the day. Most of these false triggers will be associated with sunrise and sunset.

If possible it would be best to position the camera so it can still view your desired area, but facing in a more northerly or southerly direction with north being preferred in most instances.

Below is are a few images that are from a series of 26 false triggers I had on just one sunny late afternoon and evening in the fall as the sun was setting. These false triggers were caused by the changing shadows/light as the sun moved quickly toward the horizon. Luckily for me, my trail camera was facing pretty much straight north (actually a little NE). If not for that I could have had a lot more false triggers that evening. I didn’t have the correct time and date set on the camera as I was just doing some tests, but these 26 false triggers happened over a span of 2 hours and 51 minutes.

False Trigger
1st false trigger.
5th false trigger.
8th false trigger.

Because of the location I chose for my test I didn’t have any false triggers in the mornings when the sun was rising, but the sunset was obviously a big issue on sunny days. I can only imagine how fast it would have drained my batteries or filled up my SD card if I had left my camera there for a month –  especially if I was trying to capture video.

2) Mount your Camera to a Sturdy Tree

Sometimes people will mount their trail camera to a tree that is too small. If the tree sways too easily in the wind the camera will probably experience a ton of false triggers any time there is a windy day. As the tree your trail camera is mounted to sways in the wind the passive infrared sensor (PIR sensor) will interpret this swaying as a movement in front of the sensor even though there is no subject there.

Simply making sure your trail camera is mounted to a sturdy tree will do wonders for helping to eliminate false triggers.

3) Place the Camera Away from Branches

Most of us will try to conceal the location of our trail camera. This is especially true if we are hunting on public land (where we might worry about people stealing the camera) or if we are are using the camera for security purposes.

In either case, the efforts we take to conceal our trail cameras can sometimes very reason why we are getting false triggers.

4) Avoid Tall Grass

Similar to placing your trail camera in front of branches that can sway in the wind placing your camera in front of an area with a lot of tall grass could be troublesome. Depending on how much tall grass there is, how tall it is, and how close it is to the camera wind blowing through the grass can be enough to give you false triggers.

5) Adjust the PIR Setting On Your Camera

Depending on the age and model of your trail camera you might have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the passive infrared sensor.

Ideally, you want to look at this option after you’ve tried the first for ideas on our list. Reducing the sensitivity of the PIR will increase the risk that your camera might miss something that you want to see. However, if you have already tried the first four ideas and are still getting a lot of false triggers don’t hesitate and reducing the sensitivity of the sensor if your camera has that option.