As some of you may know, I’m particularly excited about the 2012 season because there’s a very high likelihood that I’ll be hunting in the great state of Iowa this fall! I’m still waiting on drawing results, but the odds are in my favor. So with that in mind, I’ve made plans to join my pals/Wired To Hunt Pro-staffers Peter Lynch and Ross Hausmann to chase whitetails in their home state. Fortunately for me, with them living in Iowa, I’m able to have trail camera pictures of bucks I might be hunting down there sent to me in Michigan all summer! On the down side, it’s got me awful jealous that I can’t be there all summer to check cameras myself, scout for bucks in fields and just live the Iowa dream. None the less, the first batch of Iowa trail cam pics have come in and there are some bucks with great potential (see pics above and below)!

Now as much fun as it is to check out these early velvet bucks, there are also valuable bits of information you can glean from these summer trailcam pictures. Below are 4 things I know can be learned from these early pictures, and if you can think of any others – be sure to share in the comments!

1. Potential For A Property: The first thing you can get from these early pictures is an idea of the potential for a given property. While buck’s aren’t fully developed antler wise, you can still get a good idea whether a given buck has “shooter” potential. It’s important to remember that many of the bucks on your property in the summer, will relocate in some cases to a new fall range some time in September. But – there is still a good chance that a handful of current residents  will stick around. If you’re seeing good bucks now, there’s a good chance that you’ll see some of these guys in the summer, as well as a few new comers. If you’re completely striking out in the summer, while not a for sure sign of disaster, you may want to start exploring new spots – rather than put all of your time and energy into an area that just doesn’t hold the kind of buck your looking for. Remember, you can’t kill a big buck if there isn’t one there.

2. Estimated Age: Tying into the idea of determing if there are “shooter” bucks, you can also use these summer pictures to help age and judge the bucks that you do capture on camera. By taking note of the different bucks you can start estimating how old they might be based on body characteristics, which will allow you to begin putting together a list of target bucks. Being able to have this list and have decisions made on certain bucks will allow you to act faster in the field this fall – since you won’t need to make game time decisions on these deer. One thing to note, is that aging deer in the summer can be difficult – the fall is really the best time, as certain charactistics are more noticeable during that time that really point to a certain age class. That being said, you can still look at things like relationship of leg length to body, belly size, face/nose length and antlers.

3. Summer Core Area: As I mentioned before, many bucks relocate to new areas once velvet starts peeling in late August/early September. But – a decent percentage of bucks will still stay around – and understanding their current core area can help you come fall. By having several trail cameras across a property, you can start deciphering what areas a buck uses and what time of day he is there. Keep track of this information in a journal and you can start putting the pieces together. If you’re getting consistent daylight pictures of a buck in a few areas, you may have stumbled upon his core area. Come fall and as food sources change he may adjust this range – but in many cases (especially if a variety of food is available) he’ll remain in this general area because he has come to know it as a safe location. Develop a plan with this core area assumption, and once the season dawns you’ll hopefully be ready to take action!

4. Deer Density, Sex Ratio, Buck Age Structure and Fawn Recruitment: Wow – that’s a lot! And how can you learn all of that? By performing a thorough trail camera survey of your whitetail population. Ideally this should be done a little later in the summer – but you can start preparing now. For a full step by step guide for conducting a trail camera survey, visit the following link … How to Run a Trail-Camera Survey