Setting Up Trail Cameras for Big Bucks
Trail cameras are a great tools for seeing the big bucks in your area, but sometimes we abuse this tool and it hurts us more than it helps us. Putting cameras in the wrong areas can lead to leaving too much scent behind and too many intrusions, which can spook mature deer.
During the summer is when I put the most focus on trail cameras. It is the best time to take inventory on the bucks in your area and to observe their summer patterns for early archery season. Some of these bucks will stay in their summer patterns for part of September and this is important information because a lot of bucks will be more likely to slip up in these summer patterns. Summer patterns and the rut are two of the best times to catch a mature buck on his feet during daylight hours and these bucks don’t get big and old by by not paying attention. A mature buck will be on his toes at all times and placing cameras in places, such as right next to your stand or in a known bedding area will tip him off and he will avoid that area at all costs.
Some people get “camera crazy” and check their cameras way too often. By doing this you are leaving behind a ton of unwanted scent every time you step into the woods. Limiting these trips will reduce the scent you leave behind. If you can go two weeks or longer without checking your camera, you should be in good shape.
Setting cameras in feeding areas and on main trails are some of the more ideal locations for your these. You want to be in an area far enough away from your stand so you do not disturb the stand location or bedding areas, but you also want to be able to take inventory of the deer in that area. If you are not careful, you will push the deer by putting additional pressure on them which could turn your deer nocturnal.
Great camera locations are often spots that you can drive right up to with a vehicle on a large trail or in a feeding area. These spots are usually in locations where deer are used to farm machinery or vehicles and the smell won’t scare them away. In big woods country, the same tactics can be used, but you’ll need to walk to these locations. Doing it during or right before a big rain can help wash your scent away.
You need to trust your scouting abilities to pull this all together. Cameras will tell you if you are in a big buck filled area and the general direction and times of where and when they are coming and going. It is up to you to put this information to good use and place a stand accordingly.