Trail Cam Best Practices During Hunting Season - by Chris Gercken

Everyone knows how beneficial trail cameras can be in your hunting arsenal. The way trail cameras have evolved these days is remarkable. There are many ways to take advantage of your cameras and I’m going to share with you how I use mine to help me be as successful as possible. Whether you have only one property you can hunt or multiple tracks of land, hunting your cameras will benefit how successful you are any way you look at it. Obviously the more cameras you own and use, the more information you will obtain on the deer you plan to hunt. Here are some outside the box things to keep in mind when using trail cameras.

  • If you are using bait or any attractant for increased activity at your camera, try not to put that camera near your hunting stand. Any deer that are going to find that bait/attractant will find it regardless of where your tree stand is. I’ve made the mistake many times of putting my tree stand, camera and bait (legal in my state) all in the same 40 yard square. This has only caused me to run deer off and spook big bucks that I HAD coming during daylight hours. As any deer hunter knows, scent is your worst enemy. Going in to check the camera and putting bait out at your stand location will only leave tons of scent and traces of you at that spot. Even if it is only 100 yards away, you’re better off separating your camera and stand.
  • Try your best to check your cameras during middle of the day hours if possible, even if it is only once a week during the weekends. This way you’re more likely to not jump any deer off your bait/attractant.
  • Take inventory of your shooter bucks as well as places that are heavy with does. Chances are many of the early season bucks you had on camera will go off onto other farms or properties during the rut, where the does will likely stay as long as they have what they need to stay on your property. If you plan on harvesting does for meat, harvest those does as early in the season as possible. Also it’s a smart idea to harvest your meat deer from spots that you don’t have one or multiple of your shooter bucks on camera. Many of the best bow hunters I know have always stressed that you typically only get ONE shot at a mature buck. Shooting a meat deer and then tracking it through the woods, dragging it out while bleeding, as well as leaving your sweat and scent everywhere you were, are all good enough reasons to make a buck leave that area or go nocturnal.
  • Eventually your shooters should find their way back to where you had them on camera during the early season or pre rut. Save THOSE areas for only the most perfect wind and hunting conditions. Separating meat spots from big buck spots will increase your chances in getting the big one you’re after.