Photo by David Griffith
Make a handy trail camera mount
by David Griffith
Various products are available that are designed to attach trail cameras to trees or other structures. But you may prefer to make your own, more robust product for a less money.
Here’s how to make a solid, adjustable trail camera mounting bracket out of common hardware store parts for very little cost. The bracket allows side-to-side and tilt adjustment after it is attached to a tree or other structure.
It works best in conjunction with metal security lock boxes supplied by the camera manufacturers. If you don’t plan to use a lock box, you will need to devise a way to attach the camera to the metal bracket.
Materials needed for one mount
- Length of 1¼-inch steel strap
- Two ¼-inch x ¾- to 1-inch screw head bolts with nuts
- One ½-inch x 1½” hex bolt with nut
- One screw lag with eyelet (see photo below as installed on tree). Find these items with gate hardware.
- Paint to protect the steel parts from rust
- Cut the 1¼-inch steel strap 3 inches longer than the bottom width of the camera box and drill ½-inch holes 5/8-inches in from both ends. Then drill ¼-inch holes through the strap that will correspond to matched, drilled holes spaced a half inch from the sides of the box bottom.
- The holes through the box need to be out to the sides to avoid interfering with the camera as it sits in the box. Quarter-inch bolts with screw heads work best to attach the strap to the box so the screw heads are inside the box, and allow just a little more clearance for the camera than hex head bolts.
- Use one ½-inch bolt to attach the strap to the screw lag. (A ½-inch bolt works best with the eyelets used to attach to trees.) It is possible to attach the metal strap along the top or even on the sides of the box, but the bottom location allows better tilt adjustment and avoids problems with security boxes that have sliding fronts.
- By putting attachment holes on the steel strap on either side of the box the camera can be mounted on either side of a tree or structure. This placement also allows tilting action if the box is mounted to the front of the tree or structure. Mounting to the top of the camera box would not permit tilting downward if the box were mounted to the front of the tree.
- Almost all angling of trail cameras is downward, so the attachment at the bottom of the box is the best way. This system is versatile in mounting to any tree at any angle. Remember you can leave the screw lag in place when you remove the camera box so replacing the camera at each location is easy.
Mounting without a camera box
If you do not use a camera security box you can still use the bracket and screw lag if you can devise a way to attach the bracket to the camera. Here is an example of such a modification where a piece of aluminum angle was bolted through the camera lugs and then bolted to the angle bracket. Take care not to hinder opening the camera to change batteries or retrieve the memory card. A Wildgame Innovations trail camera required that the angle bracket be placed on the side since access to the batteries and card are through the bottom. Also note that sometimes it may be necessary to have the metal strap at an angle (as shown).
Mounting to structures
You can use these brackets to attach the camera/box to things other than trees by creating transition hardware to go between the bracket and the mount.
Fence post (attached to a 3-inch round fence post with circular pipe clamp): Two pieces of slotted angle were attached to the bracket. The extra, short piece of slotted angle was needed to an allow up and down tilt. On this Reconyx unit, the sliding front cover limits placement of the bracket. The flat, steel strap attached to the bottom works best in this application. Note that a sun and rain protector has been added to the camera box.
Bridge truss: Use a clamp for electrical racks along with a length of angle iron.
Tripod: A metal tripod was made and two angled iron pieces used to attach the bracket. Two pieces of angle were required to get tilt and swivel action. The tripod legs were welded together from shelving parts obtained at a metal salvage yard. There are rods on the bottom ends just like the ones on top that spike into the ground. It was painted red to help prevent vehicles from accidentally driving into it.
With a little imagination and creativity you could come up the required mounting setup for almost any situation. As you change cameras from positions you may find it handy to leave the screw lags in the trees or other brackets attached to structures to easily re-position a camera at each location in the future. Another benefit of using security boxes with this type of bracket is that you can remove the cameras from the boxes to change batteries and memory cards and just drop the camera back into the box. No re-alignment is necessary.