Trail Camera Tips & Tricks for Deer Hunting
Tips for Using Trail Cameras for Whitetail Hunting
Who doesn’t love trail cameras? They are relatively easy to operate, place, and check. They “scout” for you and keep your confidence up in your otherwise slow tree stand locations. Every one of the bucks that I’ve killed in the last 5 years has been captured on trail cameras before I harvest them or have an encounter with them. Otherwise, I might not even know a particular buck existed. Try talking to a group of hardcore whitetail addicts and not end up looking at the mega buck that they have on trail cam or being asked “got any good ones on cam?” It’s common lingo in the modern whitetail hunter’s dialogue. With all the pros to trail cameras I find it hard not to love them. But beware!- trail cameras can cause just as much harm as good. Here are a few trail camera tips that could help you this season.
Common mistakes when using trail cameras include, checking them too often, putting them to close to trails, not being scent free, placing them in sanctuaries or bedding areas, and checking them with the wrong wind. The list goes on but I’ve compiled a list of a few tips I use to get the most out of trail cameras while putting the least amount of pressure on deer.
Stay Out of “Sensitive Areas”
Areas where you have to travel long distances on foot, known bedding locations, and uncommon places where human scent is rarely found by deer, are places I try to avoid placing trail cameras. Big bucks are very sensitive to human traffic.
Check Your Cameras Sporadically in the Off Season
In late summer and early fall, try to check your cameras every 3-4 weeks. This will put the least amount of pressure on the deer. Every time you go onto your farm it puts pressure on the deer, checking them sporadically will help control human scent and busting deer off your farm. If you’re lucky enough to be in an area where you can use cell cameras, consider yourself lucky! In recent years cell camera technology has come a long way. They are more dependable and affordable now than they were just a few years ago.. without a doubt, cell cams are the least intrusive way to collect intel.
Wait for the Conditions to be Right
My favorite time to check cameras, especially in the off season, is right before or during a rain. Typically, deer will be bedded down and away from the food sources and staging areas. Rain also helps to “wash away” your scent. Although a rain will not completely wash your scent away, it can help reduce it.
Use Scent Precautions
When checking camera cards stay as scent free as possible. Spray down the camera with a scent away spray when you are setting the camera out and before and after checking cards. Wearing rubber boots will also help control scent.
Hide Your Camera
This may sound obvious but keeping your camera hidden is one of the most overlooked aspects of trail camera set up. Deer can be very sensitive to new objects in their environment and are biologically curious. Try to camouflage the cameras as best as you can. I’ve used the cameras strap to secure brush to the backside of the tree to help break up the cameras background, just make sure it isn’t something a deer would browse on or else you’re probably going to be getting a lot of close ups. Cedar trees for example are great at concealing your camera.
Avoid Putting Cameras to Close to Trails
Putting cameras to close to trails not only results in poor picture quality but will alert deer of your presence. Deer that are walking along trails will typically browse at their head level, cameras are typically set at 3-4 ft. staying 5-10 feet off the trails is optimal to keep deer unaware of your presence.
Odds are that placing trail cameras anywhere will probably be noticed by deer, the key though is to take all precautions necessary to reduce the chances of a mature buck busting your setup. You can reduce the wow factor of a new camera at a new location by hiding it as best as you can, staying as scent free as possible, and reducing the frequency of checking them. You have to weigh out the odds of even placing cameras in some locations. You have to ask yourself if it is worth the risk of bumping a deer off your property just to get a picture of him. If you know a mature buck is in an area, it may be best to stay completely out of his domain rather than risking getting a trail camera picture of him, or else at the end of the season the only thing you’ll have to show to your hunting buddies are pictures of the buck that’s still out there rather than you posing behind him.
To check out some of the bucks we’ve been getting trail camera pictures of here at the lodge click here>>
Last Updated: July 6th, 2023