In my opinion, the introduction of trail cameras has revolutionized deer hunting and has taken scouting to a whole new level. These handy devices can tell you the exact time, date and even the temperature when a shooter buck is on the move. Trail cameras simply take the guesswork out of where to hang a stand or when to hunt a particular location. With opening day just around the corner, right now can be the perfect time to start scouting and see what kind of deer your hunting area is holding. On that note, let’s take a closer look at how you can get the most out of your trail camera this year.
Food Source Setup:
Try pinpointing an early-season food source and setup cameras overlooking trails leading to the feeding area. Green fields, soybeans, clover patches, apple orchards, or commercial summer blends and food plots are great starting points. Another good setup is to locate high-traffic areas in the fields and hang a camera directly over these hotspots. Multiple tracks and large concentrations of deer droppings will let you know which sections of the field are being hit the hardest. The photos you collect from these locations will give you a good idea of the current buck-to-doe ratio along with the overall quality of bucks that are frequenting the area.
Mineral Attractant Setup:
In states where it is legal, adding salt blocks, mineral licks, or other commercial attractants like Vita-Rack during the summer months can draw a lot of bucks to your hunting area. In fact, it’s not uncommon for bucks to hit these sites on a daily basis and dig huge holes into the ground. Last season, I set up several mineral sites with the Hunter’s Specialties Vita-Rack blend and by the end of summer it looked like a meteor had hit the area. The deer had dug amazingly deep holes into the mineral site and I was able to collect hundreds of pictures from this setup.
Mock Scrape Setup:
Making mock scrapes should not be something you only do during the fall rutting period. In fact, deer use community scrapes throughout the season to communicate with one another. During the late summer months, try making a mock scrape in a high-traffic area. Take a rake or stick and scratch out a large circle beneath an overhanging branch. Next, add straight doe and buck urine directly to the fresh dirt below the overhanging branch and position a trail camera overlooking the scrape. On a side note, make sure you wear rubber boots and gloves when making mock scrapes to avoid spooking deer. Some of my best pictures have been captured from trail-cams pointed toward early-season mock scrapes.
All of these trail-cam setups will provide you with detailed pictures of both does and bucks that are in the area and this information can pay huge dividends on opening day. Utilizing trail cameras will take your scouting to a whole new level and can completely change the way you hunt. Give these trail-cam tactics a try this summer and get a jumpstart on your season.—Travis Faulkner