A unique mature buck that survived hunting season.

What You Can Learn From Late-Season Trail Cameras

A unique mature buck that survived hunting season.
A unique mature buck that survived hunting season.

Last week’s blog covered a few tips and tactics for setting up trail cameras for various types of wildlife. This blog post is about the information you can derive from those late-season camera setups.

With the colder weather and the possibility of snow and ice in the forecast, I knew deer would be on the move seeking food sources. For this reason I packed a few fresh SD cards, a couple packs of batteries, and a few bags of corn, and set up a trail camera site. With the rut long since passed and food sources limited, I figured the unharvested soybean field on my hunting property and a couple bags of corn would get the attention of any local deer and other wildlife. This is not the first time I have conducted a simple, yet effective late-season camera survey. While next fall seemingly couldn’t be further anyway, the information you learn now can provide invaluable knowledge. There are two major ways this can happen.

  • You can spot bucks that have survived the season. This is no easy feat and most bucks that have made it to this point, especially if they are of decent age, are not slouches. Hopefully, you are able to capture some crisp photos that will allow you to age the buck on the hoof. On the other hand, you may notice an increase or decrease in deer activity on your property. No matter which side of the fence you are on, you can learn what your property has or does not have that will attract deer to your property. This allows you to decipher and begin fixing or enhancing the habitat in the upcoming months for the improvement of the habitat on your land.
  • You can learn deer patterns. Of course, a bag of corn will alter the natural movement of deer. If you are setting up a camera for the sole purpose of figuring out a new property or learning travel routes, avoid the bait. This type of survey will last longer than the previous type. In the first type, deer sightings will decrease as the bait dwindles. In most cases it needs to be refreshed. I would recommend leaving the cameras out for a few weeks when trying to determine travel routes. Deer don’t typically use the same routes every day, so you want your camera to stay on a tree for as long as possible.

Luckily, if you have not already put up a late-season camera site, you still have time. Bucks may begin dropping their antlers anytime, but this typically occurs in mid-February to early March. Who knows…not only can you learn a ton about your property and the wildlife that uses it, you may find a few shed antlers in the process.

Andrew Walters