A trail camera is a landowner’s best friend. A unique setup, a few batteries, and an SD card are all you need in order to capture some truly awesome photos. Most hunters and land managers primarily use game cameras just before and during the actual hunting season. By doing this, you are missing out on learning a valuable amount of information about your hunting land. Checking trail cameras is also is a great way to incorporate young hunters into the outdoors, all the while increasing your chances of success this fall.
There are many things you can learn from using trail cameras. The predator density, fawn recruitment, movement patterns, and the overall wildlife usage of your property. In this case, let’s touch on creating an inventory. Flash-forward to hunting season and let’s say a border-line shooter buck appears in your food plot. Should you take the shot or pass? There is a great chance that if a trail camera was out on that property during the summer months, you would have seen this buck before now. That would have given you the opportunity to age him and decide if you would take the shot if an opportunity presented itself before setting foot in the field. Of course, deer move more during the fall than any other time of the year, but the chances of you “knowing” this buck are still high. By being familiar with as many deer on your property as possible, you can limit mistakes in the form of harvesting deer that may not meet your age or antler restrictions.
Whitetail bucks are in all male bachelor groups this time of the year. While the size of a bachelor group may vary, they usually range from two to eight bucks per group. Even though their antlers are not hardened bone yet, they will still determine a pecking order and establish dominance over one another. This is another useful bit of knowledge to understand. How dominant or aggressive a buck is can determine how and where you hunt them during the fall. These bachelor groups will disband around early September and each buck will establish a home range. In some cases, you may not see much deer activity during the summer but that doesn’t mean activity won’t increase during the fall. Thousands of deer are killed every year from small hunting tracts.
Lastly, the predictable movement patterns of a buck will disappear when he sheds his velvet, but the way he used your property is important to remember. While he will not be nearly as predictable during the fall as he is now, you can still nail down where he beds, where he feeds, what other deer he bands with, and his age. On one than more occasion I captured trail camera photos of bucks I later harvested. There is no doubt in my mind that it wouldn’t have happened had I not learned the information presented to me during the summer months.
Now is the time to gather information in order to experience more successful hunting trips this fall. Keep your cameras out and document what happens religiously. You will be glad you did.