Using Trail Cameras

An encouraging trail camera photo.

Every year throughout late July and the entire month of August I begin seeing all sorts of trail camera photos on social media outlets. Everyone proclaims this buck or that buck is on the hit list. They name the bucks and predict what day the buck will become an addition to their trophy rooms.

While many of the deer that appear in the photos from the Midwest are fairly predictable the bucks back here in the Northeast are nothing of the sort, especially the bucks that roam through the big woods.

Deer across farm country usually show themselves regularly on camera. Patterns become predictable and early season hunts can be very successful if a hunter uses all of the available information to the best of his ability.

This buck never showed himself during daylight hours on camera.

This buck never showed himself during daylight hours on camera.

The cameras make it easy to predict what direction the deer will approach an area from and what direction it will leave once it’s done doing it’s business. By using this information it becomes easier to study wind direction and set up accordingly. If the deer regularly approaches from the north it’s probably a good idea to make sure you don’t hunt that stand with a south wind. It becomes all about using your common sense.

The photos will also tell you what time of day the deer are using the area. Many places are productive in the morning and evening while others receive most of the activity in a specific time frame. If a lot of photos are captured between 8 and 10 o’clock in the morning it will be a good idea to plan on sitting until at least 11 o’clock.

On the other hand, if there seems to be a lot of activity between 3 p.m. and dark you should make a note to stay away from that stand unless you can get there before 2 p.m. If you walk into the stand anywhere around 3 o’clock there’s a pretty good chance you will spook deer out of the area on the way to the stand. If you do that more than a couple of times your chance of killing a deer in that place will rapidly decrease.

Many hunters become a slave to their trail cameras. Once they begin capturing photos of nice bucks they think the deer is going to be easy to kill. A common problem is checking the camera too often, especially after you begin getting the results you’ve been waiting for. The more times you visit the camera the more scent you will leave behind. Most big bucks will not put up with too much human interference. Instead of getting pictures in the daylight you’ll notice that the bucks begin appearing solely at night. That’s a sure sign to back off and stay away from the camera for a while.

Sometimes bucks will show up regularly until they lose their velvet in early September. That’s when I hear people saying the deer just disappeared. If a deer is in its core area it most likely will not move to a new area unless there is too much pressure.

When the velvet disappears more testosterone makes the bucks travel further distances than they have since last hunting season. Instead of appearing on your camera daily the buck might show up once every few weeks or maybe not at all.

Nothing gets your blood pumping like a card pull with this on it!

Nothing gets your blood pumping like a card pull with this on it!

As the leaves begin to fall things change daily in the woods and it’s the hunter’s job to recognize the changes and react to them. Apples might quit falling from the trees and nothing is left to eat where food was abundant just days earlier. One oak tree might be dropping so many nuts you need a helmet to stand under it while another tree might not have a single nut on it. These things can all be easier to capture by placing trail cameras in the right places.

A lot of cameras have a video mode, which also captures a picture before the video begins recording. This feature is probably one of the best items a trail camera has to offer. A blank picture or a flash of brown in the frame is always disappointing when we’re sorting through the images. Without a video we can only guess why the animal was running or why the frame was blank.

When the video records after the photo is taken you might catch a buck hot on a doe’s trail as well as some other amazing things you might learn by watching the video.

Trail cameras have definitely become a part of hunting and if used effectively can add to your success. Heck, some people become more addicted to capturing wonderful photos than they are to actually hunting. Pay attention to your photos, study them, and process all of the information. Although you might not kill the deer you’re after you will surely learn a lot more about the critters who are leaving all of the sign around your stand when you’re not there.





Leave a Reply