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!