HELENA — Whether you see them or not, trail cameras are staple pieces of equipment for hunters, wildlife enthusiasts, and law enforcement like game wardens, but they can have their drawbacks.
The typical trail camera can only be hung as high as one's arms can reach, leaving them susceptible to tampering whether it be by a person or animal, but Spy High Mounts from Montana is trying to change that.
"Bears really like cameras, so hanging them down low. The bears — you get a lot of bears that would chomp on the cameras or tear them off the trees," said Spy High Mounts co-owner Brad Marten.
Marten is one of three people that own Spy High Mounts and noted it was his partner Steve DeMers, a retired federal trapper, that came up with the invention after having several of his trail cameras tampered with while he was working. Demers created a prototype of what's now known as the 'Spy High Mount' to put the camera out of sight and reach of people and animals.
The mount is comprised of a mount that attaches to a pole that screws into a tree, and then an adapter that hooks trail cameras to the mount; both faster and safer than the alternative of using a ladder or scaling a tree to put the game camera out of reach.
"Minimizing your time and your hunting area, a lot of hunters are real cognizant of their scent and being in that area," said Marten. "You can put a camera up in 30 seconds or less and, and be out of that area."
Shortly after DeMers created his prototype, people began asking if they too could get a version of the mount, and the ball began to roll.
"People started asking, 'Hey, build me one,' and so from there, we started going to the design phase and engineering," said Marten.
Marten says they currently ship their products to dozens of smaller dealers across the United States but distribute to Canada and Australia as well. However, like most businesses, Marten noted the COVID-19 pandemic posed various challenges to the business, but through it all, the owners of Spy High Mounts are proud to build their products in Montana.
"In manufacturing, we take a lot of pride, everything's, you know, assembled by hand, we, you know, wear all the hats for the company," said Marten. "We all have day jobs and call Spy High our all-night job, but take a lot of pride in a product that's made in the United States, made in Montana."
While the Spy High mounting system is a valuable tool to a variety of people who work and recreate in Montana's wilderness: Fish, Wildlife and Parks regulations forbid the use of, "any electronic motion-tracking device or mechanism that is designed to track the motion of a game animal and relay information on the animal’s movement to the hunter" during hunting seasons.