Part Two: Checking Camera’s
Once we get our cameras up and running we create a schedule to check them. If you are a whitetail fanatic like us you’ll want to check cameras hours after they are put out. RESIST THE URGE. We usually set up a rotation that allows us to check half the cameras on one weekend and the other half the following weekend giving each of them two weeks in the field. Two weeks allows the area to settle down and time for the big mature deer to continue with their normal movements, but at the same time is a short enough period to ensure the camera is functioning properly!
Brandon Checking his cam this summer
Checking cameras too frequently is a great way to run that mature buck onto the next property. If you put your cameras up in locations along field edges (which we highly recommended in Part I) don’t be afraid to check the camera’s by driving your vehicle, four-wheeler or tractor right up to them. Deer don’t seem to get as spooked as they do when a couple of humans come walking up. Another great tip is to check your cameras immediately prior to or following a good rain. The rain will cover up the majority of your scent and the deer will never know you were there! One thing to try and avoid is checking cameras during prime time, early morning or late evening. The deer are more likely to be on their way to or already in the field. It’s a good idea to be as scent free as possible when you head out to set or check your cameras. Human scent can linger for days and the deer, especially mature ones, will avoid the area around your camera. DO:
- Rotate weekends in which you check your cameras in order to feed that antler addiction
- Allow at least two weeks before checking a camera
- Remain as scent free as possible when checking camera, use the weather to your advantage i.e. rain.
- Check cameras during prime time feeding times; mornings and evenings.
- Disrupt the deer when checking the camera
- Be afraid to drive a tractor, ATV or truck to check cameras near fields
Utilize atv's, trucks or golf carts to check cams. Deer are less likely to spook and far more likely to visit the area!
The invention of trail cameras has dramatically changed the way we hunt. Many people will devote an entire season hunting a single buck they caught on camera; in some cases it pays off while other times the season ends with unfilled tags and frustration. This is Part One of a three part blog that will discuss the dos and don’ts of using trail cameras and how to analyze your picture(s)/video in ways that can increase your chances of harvesting that buck.
A 2.5 year old we named snow-sled.
The most important aspect of using trail cameras is the location of your camera. Obviously you have a fairly narrow window to work with for your camera to trigger on an animal. The new trail cameras have a great feature called plot mode that can help you narrow in on this zone. On new properties we will put a camera on plot mode to hone in on areas where deer are funneling out of. Once we figure this out we set out a camera near that location in hopes of catching a big one on camera.
The best place to put your camera is a place that you can easily access with little disturbance on the deer. We tend to place our cameras over food the majority of the time, especially in the summer months. Placing the cameras over food will give you the best chance at getting multiple pictures of the deer in the area. If your property doesn’t have a food source the next best thing is what is known as social networking sites. These are the little areas such as a meadow before a food source or a funnel between bedding and food. Though these social networking areas are a little trickier to find you’ll be amazed at the activity once you get your camera up. Other good options which tend to be deer hot spots include water holes or mineral if your state regulations allow for it. Places to avoid include bedding areas and trails in the middle of the woods; though you may get some pictures, the risk of bumping deer is far greater than the reward of getting that one picture. Remember looking at pictures isn’t nearly as nice as wrapping your hands around those antlers come hunting season.
Now that you found a good location here are some tips on actually setting up the camera. We like to hang our cameras roughly hip height on the tree. Be sure to clear out any branches or tall grass as they will trigger the camera and make for a very disappointing day when you pull the card. The best thing that I can recommend is to PUT YOUR CAMERAS VIDEO MODE ON, if possible. We had multiple times this past season in which we would not have seen shooter bucks if the camera was set on picture mode. (see examples below). Video also shows you much more than a picture ever can and will ultimately help you better analyze your deer (We’ll get to that in Part 3 of this Blog Series)
- Put your camera over easily accessible food sources, water holes or funnels
- Hang cameras about hip height and be sure to clear out any branches or grass that may falsely trigger the camera.
- Put your camera on video mode
- Put cameras in or near bedding areas or areas you will continuously bump deer
- Be afraid to use the plot mode to hone in on where deer are entering the field
- Forget to TURN IT ON BEFORE YOU HEAD BACK!