Deer Hunting Game Cameras and Trail Cameras – Best Practices
The beginning of bow hunting season is upon us here in the Northeast, and as you well know many states are filing in line. Now is the time to begin scouting if you haven’t already done so. Clearly, the best way to do so is with at trail and game cameras. Hopefully you did not leave them in the tree all year long, or in the back of your truck like a certain uncle of mine (no names here, but it rhymes with leave).
First: Get out all of your old cameras. Then clean them off and take a air gun and LIGHTLY clear the hardware of dust mites and dirt and cobwebs. Next, check the game camera batteries. This is very important because some cameras require specific batteries for their units and if you have to order one do it now. Finally check your SD cards. Take them out and plug them into your PC and verify they are still operable.
A friend of mine runs a trophy deer lease Cranville’s Gap in Central Texas hill country. He says that they have up to 60 cameras tracking on their 10,000 acres. Mainly at corners of the 12’ game fences bordering the tracts, but also strategically placed on known water source trails and feeding trails.
He says that at the beginning of each season, he takes each section of cameras into his shop and does a full maintenance on them by September 15th. He does this by walking past them at different angles and patterns in the dark and in the daytime.
Tactical Trail Cameras DO’s and DON’Ts
For Optimal Game Camera and Trail Camera operation….
- DO set cameras in those places where you’ve viewed deer regularly if you are familiar with the area. Deer are ‘creatures of habit’ and you should focus on areas/tracts where you have had success in the past.
- DO set up attractants. When hunting a virgin tract, you may want to set up a salt lick or game feeders to draw deer in from the neighboring zone. This is the elite way to hammer down an preliminary catalog of bucks in an region before the rut winds up.
- DO Arrange game cameras on a tree or on a pole approximately 3-3.5 feet above the tree floor and 7-10 yards off a strategic trail or feeder for best results. Another idea is to create channels that force the deer to travel a specific direction such as fence holes or water crossings.
- DO check cameras in the late morning or early afternoon. For those of you who do not have day jobs, you could do it at night, so the activity won’t be associated with hunting. Or better yet, use a camera that sends you images from the field, like SpyPoint or Wildgame Innovations’ Premium Crush Camera with a Wi-Fi module.
- DON’T set the camera too short on trees in low-lying areas, i.e. creek-beds or swamps or dry holes that may be prone to flooding. Game cameras and trail are water resistant, not submersible.
- DO keep a list of where each one is located. It can be easy to forget about them if you are careful.
- DO alternate cameras to new positions every 7 days. Do this initially to pinpoint spots with developed deer motion. As the season approaches, concentrate on the superlative spots where you’ve observed the most activity; and more decisively – the biggest bucks. Note the time stamp on the images to reduce inefficiency.
- DO keep those cameras active near your best stand locations in the beginning. If the deer are changing directions in search for their mates and triggering new images and patterns: This is a clear sign of a great time to get after it and let your hard-work pay off.