Wondering if your trail camera is in a good spot or if you are missing out on better spots? Getting anxious to see those velvet bucks, fawns, and any other creatures on your properties? Or have you just been too busy? Get up and get your trail cameras out! Here are our 7 trusty tips to help your summer time trail camera scouting.
Tip 1: The Right Camera makes a Difference
With all the improvements to game cameras, the right camera is a crucial tool to make sure you aren’t missing game or getting pictures you cannot make out. Quality and trigger speed are some of the important features to look for in a camera. Flatline Whitetails trusts Exodus Trail Cameras to get the job done. With their 12-megapixel photo resolution and under .4 second trigger speed at up to 60’ detection range the Exodus Lift Mark II has everything we love in a camera. The 2.5 inch LCD color viewing screen makes it quick and easy to go through pictures right there on the spot. The customizable options for video length and photo burst really make it easy for our team, as each person likes to run different settings. Exodus provides a 5 year no BS warranty which shows that they really stand by their product and the quality of camera that they provide. Their Mark II camera is easily secured with a cable lock. It also features a lockable SD card door and password protection to keep your photos a secret from unwanted eyes.
Their other popular camera is the Exodus Trek. Built on the backbone of their Lift series cameras, the Trek is a high quality, easy to use camera with a friendly price. This camera features .7 second trigger speed and a 55’ detection distance. The major difference is the trek does not feature the 2.5’ LCD color viewing screen to make it a more affordable style camera.
Tip 2: Location
Location, location, location. A big factor in trail camera usage to scout for deer. Below are some responses from each team member when asked, “What areas or setups do you like to focus your cameras on in the summer time?”
“I primarily use heavily traveled trails between bedding areas and food sources in the summer to keep it as natural of a setting as possible when scouting bucks on my properties. This gives me an upper hand on knowing which deer are bedding in each bedding area and when they are traveling to the food source. Using trails gives me a great idea of where to place tree stands. Trails are usually fast pace so this is where the camera trigger speed comes into play. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a trace mineral site though,” said Darton.
When asked Nick replied, “I like to run trail cams on mineral sites and if I can find a water hole with a tree to hang my camera on nearby I will make a mineral site close to it for the kill two birds with one stone type of effect. I also look for high deer traffic areas or pinch points between bedding and food sources which a lot of the times is fields of alfalfa, clover, or soybeans. Trail cameras during this time of year can be one of the most fun things to do and get into as a deer hunter. There’s so much anticipation in every card pull. If you aren’t running at least one camera I firmly believe you are missing out on a good time! You don’t have to go in and check it every month if you are skeptical about pressure. Just put it up and leave it until season if you want to be stealthy. It is a fun tool as well as an extremely useful tool to use to gain knowledge of your deer herd.”
Tyler says, “I set up cameras to work in my favor by attacking mineral sites in easy access locations. I strongly believe in location being a vital part of trail camera usage. Mineral sites are great because they provide me with a quick and easily accessible camera location, so I can check them more frequently. Mineral Sites allow you to attract the bucks to keep an inventory on your property. A lot of the properties that I have been hunting for years I know where the deer like to be so by just using easy access locations for mineral sites it allows me the opportunity to check which deer are in the area without disturbing the areas they’ll most likely be in during the fall. Depending on terrain and property layout I will also focus on travel corridors into bedding areas and only check them once in mid-August and again in October when I go in to hunt that area that way I have an idea of when bucks are heading to those bedding areas.”
George explained, “A lot of the areas I hunt are big hardwoods, so a lot of my cameras are on mineral sites and transition trials/pinch points that are leading to agricultural crops. Trail cams supply me with loads of information like how fawns are doing, whether I have a predator problem in the area, overall health of the herd, and help me pick out hit list bucks as the #velvetfest saga unfolds.”
Jared states, “For me I like to base my camera locations on what I’m trying to capture. For velvet pictures I like to set up my cameras in proven locations from past years. I rely on mineral sites, clover plots, and watering holes during the hot summer months. All three sets have the potential to produce a great velvet buck picture. I like to keep the direction the sun travels in mind when setting cameras up because it can play a big role in capturing some great photos. Trail cameras are a BIG passion of mine and I like to get as many as I can out there.”
Tip 3: Checking/Pressure
Anyone who uses trail cameras gets that itch, the itch to see what they have on camera. The biggest key is to control that urge to go in their weekly and disturb the area. Minimize your trips into the area to every 3 weeks or monthly at minimum. Big bucks don’t like to stay in areas that constantly have human pressure. Plan your access and exit routes to give yourself the easiest accessibility with the highest possibility of staying undetected. Aerial views give you a great opportunity to see where you can access and exit from. Flatline Whitetails readily uses OnXHunt to give us a leg up on the terrain and area the deer are using. It’s easily accessible from any smartphone and provides great information to every hunter. It allows you to mark stand/ trail camera locations, where last blood was, or track where you have walked and so much more.
Tip 4: Scent Control
Scent Control goes hand in hand with checking/pressuring the area. A few ways to leave minimal human scent in the area include clothing, spray, and weather. Rubber boots that are sprayed down with scent control to keep scent levels low are a good practice. At all costs don’t go and check cameras in work clothes or right after the gym. Take all precautions to eliminate odor. At Flatline Whitetails we wear Lacrosse boots to keep us dry and comfortable. Elimishield Hunt is the system of scent control we rely on to keep us scent free in the woods year around. They have developed the first FDA compliant, direct to skin scent control that kills over 99.99% of odor causing bacteria. It was designed to provide all day protection from a single application of the product before going out into the field. Check their full process out on their website! Last but not least, try and organize your trips to check your cameras during or right before it rains to wash away as much of any leftover scent as possible in the area that may come from anything you take in with you to check the camera. In this case less is more. The less human scent you leave behind in the woods the more chance your hit list bucks show up. Don’t decrease your odds of getting your bucks on camera before you even get the camera on the tree.
Tip 5: How Many Cameras
A lot of people wonder how many cameras they need. It all depends on a bunch of different factors like property acreage, field to woods ratio, food sources, mineral sites, watering holes, terrain, and the size of your wallet.
Tip 6: Camera Settings
A frequently asked question is what setting to put your camera on. Often overlooked are the settings of a camera and the importance they can play in your scouting. Taking the time to enter the time and date is crucial as you want to know what time these bucks are visiting the area you have the camera set up on. After that is all taken care of then you have to select the mode you would like to shoot.
Photo- The most common setting on the camera but highly regarded. Most often we use a 3 photo burst with a varying delay depending on location. Typically a short delay for trails and a longer delay for mineral sites and food plots are our preferred settings.
Video- This setting has come on rather strong in the last few years with the quality of the videos greatly enhancing making it a more desirable and reliable mode. Video can be used to help study deer behavior and interactions along with helping you see where they are coming from and leaving in particular scenarios. It also give you a longer look at a bucks rack and body as he moves around to help determine age and size of the deer as photos can sometimes look deceiving depending on the angles.
Hybrid- This gives you the 2-in-1. With a combination of quality photos along with high definition videos with a length of your choice you can really get the best of both worlds.
Time Lapse- This is a tricky setting, but can prove to be beneficial. Over watch of a food plot or field would be a great area. Knowing when to set the camera to start and stop is the key to being able to put together the story of how the deer are traveling in, across, and out of the field. If mastered, time lapse can be listed as another deadly tool to have in your arsenal.
Tip 7: Maintenance/Organization
No matter the camera you always need to maintain it routinely. Make sure to keep an eye on battery percentage and switch out for fresh batteries when the battery life is getting low and you know it won’t make it to your next check. Downloading and clearing SD cards in a timely fashion will keep you on top of the game and make your checks go a lot easier. Organizing your photos will help you keep track of deer. Try setting up files by year, property, location, and possibly folders for specific bucks so you can pattern when and where you are getting pictures/ videos of them.
Trail cameras are arguably the most useful and dangerous tool a hunter can use. Following these 7 tips will help keep you ahead of the game and increase your odds at capturing that buck you are chasing on camera. Thanks for reading and be sure capture those #Velvetfest moments!
–Darton Harwick, Flatline Whitetails