The Ds4k Ultimate Trail Camera

The DS4K Ultimate Trail Camera

A trail camera junkie, sage hunter Scott Haugen has spent years developing his 90-plus trail cam inventory. When it comes to non-cellular makes, Haugen notes you can’t beat the durability and performance of Stealth Cam’s DS4K Ultimate Camera.

by Scott Haugen

As a full-time freelance writer, trail cameras are a big part of how I make a living. They provide me with valuable information all year long. They open doors for increasing hunting opportunities. What they teach me, I can’t begin to convey.

I currently have 93 trail cameras in three states spanning nearly 800 miles. Most are noncellular trail cameras. Most places I hunt and set trail cameras for scouting do not have cellular access.

For nearly 30 years, I’ve worked with trail cameras. I’ve even taken them to many parts of the world on hunts, including Alaska. I’ve used many models over the years. Some are good, but if I had one noncellular trail camera to rely on, it’s Stealth Cam’s DS4K Ultimate. I could get into the mega-giga bytes and hardware nomenclature, but you can find that online. My goal is to provide you with personal experiences and why I trust and love these trail cameras.

I run all trail cameras in high-definition video mode. Thirty seconds is the shortest clip I like to capture. If set looking down a long, straight trail along the edge of a river or forest fringe, I’ll often program a camera to capture a minute or more of high-def video footage. A video clip reveals so much more than a still image—or several still images—ever will. Add in audio, and you can glean even more information.

The Ds4k Ultimate Trail Camera

I run 64GB SD cards in all DS4Ks. This is mainly because their battery life outlasts smaller-capacity cards. A dozen AA batteries sound like a lot, but they keep these trail cameras going for months, even when capturing footage daily. I’ve had many cameras go over nine months and many over a year. All are still catching video with less than 5 percent battery life.

From 2019 to 2020, I lived in Southeast Alaska. We got over 25 feet of snow that winter. It’d snow a few feet, partially melt, snow a foot a few days later, then six feet, then melt some more. From mid-November to March, the snow was never gone.

The first significant snowstorm hit by surprise. It dumped eight feet in three days. I had three DS4Ks set in areas I couldn’t get to until spring. Though they weren’t catching videos while buried under several feet of snow, every single one had over 35 percent battery life. And all were in perfect working condition when I finally could get to them.

The most valid test of any gear is longevity. A few years ago, a magazine asked me to review several trail camera brands. We had a month to do it. I declined. Give me a year, and I’ll do it, not 30 days. Thirty days reveals surface knowledge only.  This is because not all software is equal. Proper testing takes time. Some trail cameras cut corners, and after several months, it shows.

 I checked 28 trail cameras in one day. All were the same brand in three different models. They weren’t DS4Ks. What brand they were doesn’t matter. It simply could have been a bad batch. Possibly the glitches are now fixed. I don’t know for sure. My emails to the company went unanswered. Of the 28 cards I pulled, 26 of the cameras were faulty, not capturing more than a one-second blurred video in the dark when it should have been 20-second clips.

It was frustrating as they missed some valuable shots, including multiple mountain lions I worked hard to get. The cameras failed to capture videos at dusk and dawn, too. All but two cameras had over 50 percent battery life, and many had above 75 percent. Nearly all the information strips were wrong, from dates to times to years. I started running all of those cameras at the same time, seven months prior, and it’s clear they had a software issue that went kaput all at the same time. Since then, the remainder of the cameras of this brand have done the same thing; they quit performing in low light, even with fresh batteries. I’ve replaced them, mostly with DS4Ks.

The Ds4k Ultimate Trail Camera

Another thing I love about Stealth Cam DS4Ks is how tough they are. A few months ago, I was checking trail cameras in the rainforest of the Pacific Northwest’s Coast Range. I’d buried a camera under a log smack in the middle of one of the most massive elk trails I’d ever seen. I’d checked it multiple times before. As expected, it had been covered in mud from elk stepping over it. But this time, half of it was submerged in mud and water. The door latch broke but the door was still shut. I came to find out that not only had multiple elk trampled and bit the camera and the strap, but two bears also tried prying it from the log. While the camera was partially submerged and continued getting stepped on, it still worked, capturing video clips even when I dug it out. These are the toughest trail cameras I’ve ever used, and I have many surviving encounters with brown bears in Alaska, too.

The Ds4k Ultimate Trail Camera

I lost about a dozen DS4Ks last winter to landslides, floods, and a massive ice storm that dropped big trees smack on the cameras. Day in and day out, the DS4Ks endured some of the most intense rains on the continent. Not only where I live in the Pacific Northwest, but also during the year, I used them in Alaska, where we received over 110 inches of rain and snow. I love that the SD slot is on the side of the Ultimate camera when you open it, not on the bottom, as with many brands. When you open those in a driving rain, it’s a struggle to save the camera and the SD cards, let alone insert a fresh one.

Several of my Stealth Cam Ultimate trail cameras have been in the same place for over five years. Once a year or so, I have to loosen the strap around the tree because it gets so tight from the tree growing into it. From elk to deer, cougars to bear, turkeys to a long lineup of furbearers, these cameras capture animals on the move, year-round.

The Ds4k Ultimate Trail Camera

They provide me with valuable insight I’d otherwise be left speculating about. They’ve increased my big game and predator hunting success and my turkey and waterfowl hunting opportunities.

The Ds4k Ultimate Trail Camera

I’m traveling to Africa on safari this summer, and twice, I’ll be in Alaska. On each trip, I’ll be packing DS4Ks. Even on brief, one to three-week trips, I’ll set trail cameras in order to learn all I can about the animals and the place.

Each summer, I take trail cameras to Alaska, on the upper Peninsula where I’ve hunted and fished for many years. One summer, I set up a few trail cameras on a river bank, hoping to catch foxes, wolves, and maybe a brown bear. The number of big brown bears I caught shocked me. It also shocked the outfitter who’d been operating in this area for over 25 years. He’d never hunted that stretch for fall brown bears, but he does now, thanks to the revealing footage from the DS4Ks.

Trail cameras are our eyes in the woods when we’re not there. They allow us to be in many places at once without an intrusive presence that detracts from an animal’s natural behavior. Before entering the outdoor industry, I was a science teacher for 12 years. What trail cameras taught me and many of my students was an education beyond words. We caught bears going into houses, bobcats hunting turkey poults on their roost at night, cougars with kills, and much more.

I continue to build my trail camera arsenal because I need more than 93. There’s too much to see, too much to learn, and too much to enjoy.  A trusted workhorse of a trail camera that simply keeps performing no matter where in the world I take it or what conditions it’s exposed to—that’s the Ultimate.

The Ds4k Ultimate Trail Camera

Enough said. A dozen new DS4Ks just arrived, and it’s time to get to work.


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