Trail cameras growing in popularity, and it's not just hunters utilizing them to track wildlife

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Trail cameras are growing in popularity as sportsmen are looking for the latest and greatest products -- but it's not only hunters using the extra set of eyes.

"Hunters have more than just their direct observations during the hunting season to judge the deer population," DNR District Wildlife Supervisor Jeff Pritzl said.

A DNR study indicates 36 percent of deer hunters surveyed use trail cameras to scout deer. Each hunter used more than three cameras for a total of 95 days in the field.

Ted Kent has four trail cameras.

"I see a lot of deer on the camera that you don't see when you're sitting in the woods -- definitely," Kent said.

Scheels Archery Shop Manager Andy Sroka says sales have grown five times in recent years at the store in Grand Chute.

"If a guy really wants to go crazy and he loves his deer pictures, he can spend easily $500 to get HD pictures. You can get video. These things take video," Sroka said.

Sroka says if you're worried about checking your cameras, some systems will send the pictures to your phone.

And it's not just hunters looking at the pictures.

The DNR is launching a trail camera pilot program called "Snapshot Wisconsin." Five-hundred cameras will capture images from bears to mountain lions. The DNR will use the data in conservation management.

"Try to understand species distribution. Maybe be able to get after species abundance in some places, changes across the state or across seasons. I think it's pretty exciting. And I think once people have a trail camera out, there's no going back, because it's so exciting to see the pictures you get," Jennifer Stenglein said.

"I had one picture a couple of years ago of a woodchuck. It looked like the guy from Caddyshack, sticking his face in my camera with his tongue sticking out. Still one of my favorite pictures. It was hilarious," Sroka said.

You can get started in trail camera photography for less than $100.

CLICK HERE to learn more about "Snapshot Wisconsin" via the Wisconsin DNR's website.