Trail Cameras - An Essential Tool for Scouting and Deer Success
I’ve always joked that I would love to have a clone to get even more scouting and work complete.Like with your days, there is never enough time. This is something pretty common with everyone and we can literally only do so much. Family, work and life often get in the way of our planned hunting and scouting schedule. So, what can possibly be done to try and combat this issue? Scouting cameras.
I'm a firm believer in trying to make the best use of my time. I believe deploying trail cameras are about as close as I can come to finding a scouting assistant. This aspect of locating and understanding how deer live and move in your area is extremely important. Scouting is truly one of the most underestimated parts of taking big bucks. If people spent more time scouting and only hunted when the time was right, I think success rates on mature deer would most definitely go up. I'd rather put in a ton of work before the season ever begins; hunt when the time is right, and make the best decisions possible based on the information I have at hand.
What I love is the fact that trail cameras have become so technologically advanced. The SpyPoint cameras I've put out even come with solar panels so dead a camera in the field is no longer a concern. I also have several cameras that send images to my phone. This makes things even more fun and absolutely addicting!
Contrary to what many people assume, they have great plan options that are reasonably priced and are simple to use. My favorite part is their new buck tracker technology that scans photos and only sends bucks to your phone, or pre-sorts images for you. This is a huge time saver and is pretty impressive if you think about it. We all love seeing thousands of photos on our camera as that means activity was high. It can be a daunting task to go through every single image. This new technology is making things easier and easier and more user-friendly.
As far as when cameras should be deployed and where they should go, I've picked up some pretty useful tips over the years that can improve odds of great photos. Everything I've done has been by trial and error so this is an easy way to skip some of the issues and get straight to the amazing photos!
1.Think about where the sun will be and don't place in direct sunlight during prime hours.
2. Place at correct height- Usually hip height is a great way to judge.
3. Deploy on trail cross-sections if possible to get more options. You will double your odds at getting great deer activity.
4. If baiting or minerals are legal, use them to your advantage! This can be a great way to attract deer to a specific location in front of your camera.
5. Practice scent control when checking cameras. I spray down with Scent Killer Gold as if I was going out hunting.
6. Don't check too often!
7. Get them out early to watch antler growth, usually I recommend by June or July.
8. Bring the entire family along to help in the setup.
9. Use ATV/UTV to speed up process getting in and out of locations quickly.
10. When the rut hits, place over scrapes/mock scrapes/rubs.
11. Late Season - place on food source.
12. Early Season think green!
13. Use water source or make your own!
14. Early season - get to know bucks that like to hang together. This can be advantageous because the bachelor groups tend to stick together. You may only spot one buck, but usually if they all like to hang out together they will be in the same location if you look hard. This is especially true on mule deer!
15. Use photos to help determine age, caliber of deer, and show the photos/videos to kids to get them excited.