By Dan Infalt
In the last decade trail cameras have had a huge impact on deer hunting in the United States. With the placement of a camera in the woods we can now see what’s there when we are not. Cameras have helped us pattern bucks, establish goals, they have exposed super bucks we were unaware of, and given us the confidence to stay focused knowing what’s out there.
But, do they always help?
I think the misuse of trail cameras has to rank as one of the biggest reasons some hunters fail to tag mature bucks. Lots of hunters seem to be getting addicted to getting deer photo’s. And it’s significantly hurting these hunters’ chances of killing bucks.
If you’re putting trail cameras next to your hunting spot or tree stand, and then checking the camera on a regular basis, you are getting your scent in there when checking, just as if you hunted. You’re burning your bridges and making your deer more nocturnal, or relocating them to a safer area without human scent.
In my opinion, if you found a good buck bed / staging area, hunt it. Keep the camera out of there. You need to decide if you would rather hang his trail cam picture on your wall, or his shoulder mount.
If your intention is to kill big bucks, keep the cameras where the deer expect human scent. Those areas being field edges, deer trails crossing your human trail, food plots, etc. Keep them away from where you hunt. Keep yourself out of there till kill time too.
– Red circles represent bedding areas that hold target bucks near the river.
– The blue arrows show deer travel out of the bedding areas.
– The pink dots are the stand locations
– The yellow dots are the trail camera locations.
The trail cameras are placed over active scrapes, food, in travel funnels, or over minerals ( check your local laws if using bait or minerals for pictures). Notice the cameras are a distance from the actual bedded bucks. They are placed in areas where deer move mostly after dark, and don’t associate danger close to their bedding area.
But, on the other hand, the tree stand sites are close to the buck bedding areas, where deer do move freely in daylight. Hunting these types of set-ups will spook deer, so it’s important to only go in and hunt a few times a season so the deer don’t catch on. I hunt my set ups about only one to three times a year.
Let the cameras do the work, but it smartly. Check the cameras without going near the buck bedding areas and when the bucks you’re after show up and start showing on the cameras close to daylight times, move in for the kill.
The Big Buck Serial Killer
A recent episode of Dan’s web show – Hunting Beast TV – highlights these exact tactics, as Dan uses them to harvest a great Iowa buck. You can watch that video at this link –> Hunting Beast TV – NE Iowa 10 Pointer