Trail Cameras: A Key to Whitetail Success, Part 1

Blake Hagemeier

Trail CameraLiving hundreds of miles from your hunting property can really make it tough to put in the time needed to prepare for the upcoming season. Combine the time needed to do so and the soaring gas prices and it's nearly impossible to do enough preseason scouting to put yourself in a good position to harvest a bruiser come this fall. But, with today's advances in trail camera technology, these constraints can put less of a burden on your whitetail success.

There was a time when a hunter had to do all of his scouting via field edges and talking to local farmers. Now days, he or she can still use those resources, but incorporate the use of digital trail cameras to really increase his pre season scouting. With the use of these cameras, hunters can capture a glimpse of what their property has without spending much time there. You can spend one weekend a month through the summer on the property yet gain knowledge of what is on the property as well as potential patterns the deer have throughout the entire summer months.

I live over three hours from the properties I hunt on. Work and family constraints make it nearly impossible to spend much time on the property prior to the season. Plus, I need to keep the wife happy through the summer months in order to spend time in the woods during the fall. Living so far away makes it tough to get fully prepared for the season, but with the use of a handful of trail cameras I quickly learn about the properties I hunt on. I like to set cameras around the end of June and check them about every 4-5 weeks. With the advances of trail camera technology, I have the ability to still do some scouting even hundreds of miles away. Many trail cameras now have the battery capacity to run for nearly 6 weeks. Combine that with a large memory card and the camera will be snapping hundreds if not thousands of pictures while I'm completing my summer "honey-do” list.

During these summer months, I like to focus in on known well traveled corridors especially early in the summer. Come August and early September, I like to look for well used trails entering and exiting bean fields, and also near water sources. During the dry late summer months, many water sources get low or even dry up. If you can find one that still offers whitetails a quench to their thirst, you've found a magnet. Setting a trail camera near one might not offer you much of an idea at patterning a particular buck, but it will definitely offer some insight into herd numbers, sex ratios, and allow you to form a so called "hit list” for the upcoming season. Another great area for a camera is a summer bait station. Unfortunately, here in Illinois, mineral licks and feed piles are illegal all year. If you state allows it, these are great places to begin your summer trail camera scouting.

Although you may live hours from your property, you still have the ability to do plenty of preseason scouting with the use of trail cameras. They can give you insight into the property you're hunting without having to spend too much time away and money on gas to get there.

In the next article, I'll take a look at different features on many of the trail cameras available today.

Posted by Blake Hagemeier under Hunting on August 25, 08 09:00 AM | Permalink

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