Just over the past few years, I’ve become more interested in deer hunting and all the preparations that come with it. With each season, I learn more and more about the sport and what all it takes to make my hunts successful. One of the most important things that I’ve learned is getting everything prepared earlier in the year and not letting the season sneak up on you. There are many things you need to do to get started for the season, just a few things are sighting in your rifle/bow, food plots, mineral sights, and my favorite; trail cameras! I’ll share with you everything I’ve learned about the ins and outs of trail cameras.
When to put them out
If you don’t leave yours out all year, then the earlier the better. The whole purpose of having a trail camera is to learn what deer you have and their patterns and movements before season gets here. I keep some of mine out year-round just because I enjoy seeing what all goes on during the off season. It is also helpful having them out right after the season ends so you can see which bucks in your area survived the season or not (and hopefully they come back bigger and better the next year). The cameras that I don’t keep out all year, I try to have back out at least 3 months before season starts back to learn as much as possible. Putting them out a few months before season gives you time to move one if you aren’t getting any action. If a whole month goes by without anything more than the occasional doe, finding a new spot might be best.
The placement of your camera is probably one of the most important things I have learned. You’ll need to put the time and effort into scouting out the best locations for your cameras in order to have success. I keep at least one on our green fields to see what kind of traffic we have coming in and out of there and at what time of day they’re usually passing through. I’ve noticed we have had the most success with big buck pictures by walking deep into the woods and looking for fresh scrapes and rubs. Find a small tree nearby your scrape to see what size buck you have coming in. Heavily used trails to a water source are also ideal spots for a camera. Always be sure to keep long branches and weeds out of the view of your camera so you don’t end up with thousands of pictures of nothing. There is nothing worse than waiting two weeks to check a camera and having your card filled up with hundreds of pictures of tree branches!
In order to get the most out of your trail camera, you’ll need to have something that keeps them coming consistently. There seems to be an endless supply of options out there when it comes to choosing an attractant. I’m always trying new things to see what works best in our area. The one I’d say that I’ve had the most luck out of is Deer Cane Black Magic by Evolved Habitats. The newest one I’ve tried is Persimmon Crush by Wild Game Innovations, it seemed to have some success with many does and a few young bucks. If all else fails, there is always good old-fashioned corn which they are guaranteed to love.
Leave your camera alone
This is the always the hardest part for me! When I set a camera up on what I feel is a good location, I get excited and literally want to check it every day. As tough as it is to wait, patience is essential. Checking your camera too often will spook the deer and ruin a good spot. No matter how quiet you are every time, they know that you have been there. After setting up your camera, give it about two weeks before you check back up on it.
Maintaining your camera
Keeping your camera running properly is key. It’s important to keep good batteries in it at all times. I’ve noticed that when I have low batteries, but not 100% dead, my camera will still miss pictures and the sensor won’t work as well. There’s no point in having the camera if you don’t keep well working batteries in it. Organizing your photos makes it easier to keep up with the bucks in your area and their progression over the years. I really enjoy getting to watch how the smaller bucks grow each season, and I keep my folders organized so it’s easy for me to go back and look.
It’s been a fun learning experience for me learning how to use my trail cameras and figuring out what I need to do to have success with it. I love seeing the wildlife that lives in my area, whether it’s a bobcat, a coyote, does, or the big buck I’ve been hoping for. Seeing a big buck on my camera keeps it exciting for me, and keeps me coming back day after day during the season. After seeing a buck on my camera last season and knowing he was out there, it gave me the drive to hunt every day for nearly three weeks until I saw him. Using trail cameras has been not only a fun, but a rewarding experience as well!
Until next time,
Bucks of Alabama Pro Staff