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July 02, 2008


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IMHo setting trail cams and scouting now is worth nothing more than the pleasure gleened from doing so. The only worth other than that I see in it is to get an idea about the doe/fawn crop using the areas. Deer patterns even those of the does and fawns is dramaticly different after the first frosts kill off summer foliage used as both feed and cover. Once serious pre rut activity starts bucks have little or no interest in any summer travel routes other than to search out does.

Trail cams are an endless source of information, reguardless of the time of the year. They show you so many things you would never see if you didnt have one. Ive said it before on the small piece of property we have I never saw the bucks on it because most times they go nocturnal and if it wasnt for the camera I never would of known they were there. Sure you might see some rubs or scrapes but that doesnt mean the bucks are still there. How many times do you hear hunters never knew a certain buck was there then low and behold a trail cam picks him up somewhere! Now the relentless search is on to find and try and pattern that particular buck. As seasons and times change, so do our thought processes. We always need to try and figure out thier next move. Trail cams can definately help you do that. During early season I look for water sources when its dry and place a camera near by. Naturally set one near a feeding station. One of the best places to put one is in an area way off the beaten path where you may suspect the big boys may be hiding. If you scout early and you intrude in on their core area they still have a long time before hunting season and will forget you invaded their privacy. No matter what others may say, Ive used them and know many people who do and they are 100% woth it! All the BIG BOYS use them , the Drury bros, Lee and Tiffany, Jim Shockey, etc etc. And yes indeed they are a hell of alot of fun to use. On the off seasons or during the season its almost as cool as shooting the animal, only the camera is your weapon. When you leave your camera for weeks at a time and come back to check it, you start going thru the pictures and some how or another the oohs and ahhhs keep comin. Its a blast. Try it, youll love it! Good huntin.

I agree about the patterns changing BD. But first frost is a long way off. I hunt beginning in September. Add the fact that I live so far away from our land and the cameras become a pretty important part of scouting for me.

Plus, it is fun to see the pictures;)

Bigkahuna, I saw more bucks last year with three cameras out than I'd seen in years and years of just hunting. Some were ghosts that only gave me one fuzzy picture and some really liked getting their picture taken (like the young stud that Mike posted on here for me). I learned about travel routes that I never knew existed. I learned where the deer were coming into fields to feed and when. Some of that I could've done with personal scouting but as I said, I live nearly 2 hours away and the cameras fill in for me not being there.

The water hole idea isn't much help on our land as it's bottom land with natural springs and swamp and a big ol' slough that runs through it. But, I have gotten some good pictures of how the deer are using the little spits of dry trails to get around. I have a few ideas of areas way off the beaten path that I didn't watch last year. I'm also going to clear some quiet trails so I can into stands more quietly without bumping deer. That has always been a problem on our land. The cameras have caused me to re-think much of what I was doing before. They have helped make me a smarter hunter, for sure.

Trail cams worth nothing other than doe/fawn crop this time of year, are you kidding me? How abot finding out what kind of racks you got roaming the woods and the number of bucks to does so you can get a management plan started? Ya their patterns do change come foliage drop and as their testosterone increases but that first week or two depending on pressure can be just as good as any time. They should be on their summer patterns yet and a couple of months of no hunter pressure hopefully relaxes them a little. Right now or earlier is a great time to get ready for those first few days, I start looking for acorn crops and bed to feed patterns with optics and cameras. Who knows with all the flooding and damage you might have to find out how the deer have adjusted to it. To each their own but I certainly feel you can learn alot with the cameras right now and best of all youll be learning more about deer and their behavior which is priceless anytime of year.


Had my camera out for 10 days last week, took 650 pix in four days, filled my memory card. Lots of does and fawns with a couple of small bucks. I love using trail cams, have a new one coming next week! They can definently help to pattern a buck from summer months to early bow season. Last year i had caught a small 8pt on my camera about 6 different times in Aug. & Sept. I knew the area he was hanging out in, opening weekend Oct. sure enough there he was, shot him in the AM in 80 degree weather. Not the biggest buck i've taken but it was cool to have been whatching him the last couple of months leading into bow season. I think for sure you can pattern a buck from July thru Sept. to be able to get a chance at him early season.

I set one up on a water hole and one on a mineral site. I use them just to see what's out there and what time they are on the move. I only use them on the edges to avoid spooking them. I also never move them. We use no flash Cameras now. I still think they spook deer just like a flash with that illuminator that turns on a few seconds. That is the main reason I don't move them.
They are a great source of info and also a huge motivational tool. I think one big bonus is to have live pics of the buck you harvest, looks great next to the mount. Have a great 4th!!

Doug, What I've noticed is that summer bachelor groups can change, and they can cover larger areas during the summer months. One week there here, the next they're using a bean field several hundred yards away. Our areas may be different, however. I always tell people that scouting year-round can benefit hunters in several different ways.

Last summer I was getting some fairly consistant pictures of a buck I call "Notches" (both his ears are ripped out) in one semi-secluded bean field. I figured he'd stick around, but come October I never saw him. It appeared that a different buck (one I call Mr. T) had taken that area over once the pre-rut got going.

While the bucks you get pictures of now may, or may not be there come October, you can still find a travel route that bucks will be using once the rut approaches. And, it's just plain fun to do. Make sure you have fresh batteries and a clean card, so you can get tons of shots.

One other thing I've stated before on the blog: set your cameras up on wheat fields right now, because mature bucks seem to love those wheat kernels when they're mature and ready for harvesting. It's a preferred food source NOW (maybe not later), but is an area where you can get plenty of shots of the bucks you'll be hunting later. Right now my Cuddeback is set up on an open fencerow between a wheat and soybean field. I should have plenty of shots of the bucks I've been glassing in the same fields the past couple of weeks.

Most importantly...enjoy yourself!!!

Happy 4th of July everyone!!!

Roger on Doug's comment. Georgia's deer season opens second week in Sept. We may not get frost here till early or mid November. Leaves are not down till first storm after Turkey Day. All info can be added to your treasure trove of data.

You are right Dean. Wheat draws deer like candy. They cut wheat here two or three weeks ago and we would see deer feeding in any field with wheat all the way to work. Now the cut fields are full of dove!!

It sure helps to locate those bucks over 145"

I doubt you'd know know a 145" buck if you saw one. They have antlers on their noggins unlike those fawns you shoot at.


I know what a 145" buck looks like, Big Daddy taught me.

To those who do not put much credence in summer scouting, do as you wish. IMO it all helps, whether summer fall or winter. You can never see/learn too much. esp. if you are a close-in bowhunter. The more I have hunted whitetails all over America the last 30 years the more I have come to know that many/most big deer are homebodies that live close and in the same areas all their life. Some stray, but most live close; the older most bucks get the smaller their core areas get, just like people--the older you get the closer you tend to stay near home and in familiar areas, right? So, why not go out and enjoy the summer days, and see the bucks in velvet and learn all you can about their whereabouts and behavior, it all makes you a better hunter, right? BTW< what's up with the 145" thing, I must have missed something???

Mike-You are absolutly correct. Studies done when i was in school and more recently, and referred to in some American Hunter mags, where you had articles, verify all that- that deer stick to home ranges and return almost always when pushed out by hunters, dogs, or anything. They love to stay home and will almost never leave. We may think they are gone, but they are holed up and go nocturnal. Remember the articles. The dogging studies were done at the SC Savannah River Plant years ago and reconfirmed recently.

We're still waiting on seeing all those bucks over 145"

Thanks for the tips everyone. Dean, I agree completely. The young stud I mentioned ("Little Big Man") got his picture taken in the same area all autumn. When the rut rolled around he moved his core area across a highway to another part of our property. I would've never known this had I not had the cameras out. It got me an opportunity with him I would've never had.

Last year I got lots of pics of a few nice bucks. But they were mostly nocturnal. This year my goal is to try and get more daylight pictures. But isn't that everyone's goal? lol.

I don't use it so much to decide what and when i will hunt, but for a better understanding of how to manage the deer. what are they eating and when, how do they get there, etc.. I have found we can re-route deer by mowing paths even out of route to go by a stand using food strips (not plots) and a few groomed trails, it will become the norm for the resident deer and then by leaving scent and such that big boys cruising by in the fall will follow these paths searching new does or safety areas. GREAT TOOL, i would like to get honest opinion about which one is really the best and cost effective.

i have used cuddebacks and both are the same model, one works great, one doesn't,
so i am obviously 50/50 right now .......
wish they were user friendly

Mike: I do find it enjoyable to set out trail cams an do so year round. I also stand by my statement that I see little worth in using summer time pics of velvet clad bucks enroute to feeding areas as a pre rut /chase scouting tactic.
The 145" comments fall on the heels of one of your most predominate bloggers using an alias to question my success with bucks that have scored over 145". I assume because it's hard for someone whom hunts the same small area a few weeks each year to comprehend others hunt several states and Canadian prov. each year. Little people make little comments.
See you in Saskatoon on Nov. 16 ;>) BD

There are no little people on this blog. Everyone matters when you open your eyes and see the whole picture. I can understand that individuals that hunt thru guide servies might not see the need for a trail cam. I am certain that many on this blog hunt hard through the entire season in their home state and abroad , however, they are not always flappin their gums about themselves every time they post!! Eat some humble pie and get over yourself a little bit .....ok alot.


Speaking of 'lil people making 'lil comments directed at others.

BD, I agree with you, there isn't much to gain by using summer pictures to pattern fall bucks. But, like Jake said earlier, that first weekend can be as good as pre-rut/chase phase sometime. This time of year I'm using the cameras to figure summer travel patterns for that reason. To try and get a shot that first weekend. As the bucks antlers develop in the next few weeks I'll also be able to start identifying bucks from last year if they made it through the winter.

Doug yes isn't it a hoot to see a buck walk under your treestand that you watched grown from bumps on his head thru the velvet to shed velvet? I've been lucky enough to see that myself a few times.

there ya go guys keep at it.......fuel the Anti's fight by division among ourselves

there is no "I" in sportsman

just be glad you are not in a cave in Aphganistan fighting to stay alive and keep us free. someone else is doing that today for you

I guess the shoe fit


If I wrote all the reasons why it is worth having a trail cam I wouldnt have a page big enough! Try putting out some different products whether its mineral licks, maybe a new food plot source in a small confined area to see how they like it? Set up on river or a creek crossing. See what passes thru. I like seeing deer that made it thru the last season and how they grew bigger. The camera lets me know when horns start growin, helps pinpoint rutting activity, whos useing scrapes. Most of all what time deer pass a certain area and does this follow a pattern so I can be there at the right time to pass an arrow his way! Its just an all around learning tool for young and old and from novice to experts. Mike makes a good point that I live by, and that is you can never know everything there is to know about the outdoors and you are a fool if you think you cant learn something new. Cameras will drive you crazy too! Just like deer hunting. Things go wrong setting them up. A branch pops into veiw and sets the camera off 400 times. A raccoon or a pig or whatever has splashed a wad of mud on the lense! Ive accidently formatted my card while veiwing pictures and erased a whole card of great pics. Sometimes the camera has been there a month or so, I cant wait to get there and check it out and find out for some reason there is a card failure or something and there is nothing on the card, thats a real bummer. To me its just like huntin. Your still trying to get the best shot by putting the camera in the right place. Thats all part of it. Me, I dont have a lot of property to hunt in florida so I really enjoy the little bit I have. So the more I learn the closer I am to tagging one of those nocturnal bucks that keep outsmarting me!

Grant Woods, American's top deer biologist, told me that some bucks disperse from their summer range about velvet-shedding time--Septe 10 or so, so those will not be where you spotted him today or this weekend--he once knew of a buck that dispersed 100 miles. But his studies show that man, many bucks live in the same area all yaer, their fall and summer ranges overlap as one. So some of the bucks you see this weekend or on cams will be there, some won't. If you see one of the homeboys and watch him grow and see him for months and then kill him that is damn cool.
Anyhow I like the varying opinions and the bit of conflict I sense amongst some--that is what a blog is about, edgy--but just keep it civil and straight up as we blog on brothers of the hunt, thanks.

My summer scouting are evening field trips with the video camera. I have hours of taping both individual bucks and those in bachelor groups, mostly during late August and early September. Once they are hard horn,(and some go nocturnal) I then will place trail cameras at any large secluded scrapes I can find. Do the total scent elimination stuff and go slow. The best set-ups are either coming to or leaving the scrape trails. I learned not to place them directly over a scrape. (This is their sensory alert zone)

Most big boy camera hits are at night , but I'll be dang from what I video taped
earlier are now active to the area I can concentrate on for stand placements, entry/exit routes, and wind directions.
Then it is just a matter of holding off hunting them and surprising them when the rut kicks in.

I find that having summer trailcam pictures provides a lot of value. I run them year round, and I see most of the same deer on the camera during the summer as I do during the fall. Sure they move around a bit, but they are still in the exact same general area. You may have to move your stand around to get a shot, but if you provide everything that a buck needs (food, water, cover and does), he will stay nearby.
I survey our hunting areas during the summer by having one feeding spot per 100 acres, then putting a camera on each spot for one week. This should show you almost all of the deer in that area. And again, they will have moved around some by fall, but they will be in the same general area unless you don't have enough food or does to hold them. And of course where most hunters go wrong... too much pressure. But even then, chances are that the bucks are there, they just won't be out during shooting light.

Set the trail camera facing North or South. Remember during this time of the year the areas that get shaddy first in the evening and sun last in the morning are the areas you will find the most deer activity. I also set my cameras at about 2.5 - 3 feet off the ground facing on a slight angle down the trail. Your more likely to get a group of deer in the picture then a butt, head, or a blank.

If your going to set by a fence jump or creek crossing move it back some. Depending on your camera you may get a bunch of blanks. Have you ever seen a deer take a couple fast steps to cross a creek or fence? I have. There is a lot of good information here. Even if "you cant pattern a deer using trail cameras"?, You get a picture of some nice bucks in the area your sure to stay on the stand a little longer.


I forgot to mention - There are many big bucks that have be taken the past couple years that have had trail camera pics of them. While most had nothing directly related to the cameras, the pictures let the hunters know the deer was still in the area, alive, escaped the previous season. It will help you determine if its a shooter in your eyes or not and when you see him in the woods you will recognize him and be able to judge him better. When a buck enters your world in the woods you often have to make a decision in under 2 mins. You can look at the same deer in a picture as much as you want and show to others (like us on here:)) to get an idea of how old a buck is or its size if that stuff interests you.

Good luck! Take a scrape dripper with you
and put active scrape in it. It works all year long for trail cameras!!


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