Whitetail Tips: Maximize Your Trail Cam Scouting Strategy

Get better at scouting with trail cameras this season.
Get better at scouting with trail cameras this season.Outdoor Life Online Editors

Are you starting to feel it yet? Over the past few days, my wife has begun to notice some obvious symptoms of whitetail fever from both her husband and son. For example, she has been unable to keep either of us at home during the daylight hours and her "honey-do list" is only getting longer with each passing day. To make matters worse, my son and I almost spent the entire weekend cutting shooting lanes, clearing safe routes to stand locations and checking trail cameras.

In our defense, you can't really blame us for our erratic behavior and recent absenteeism. We all know that it's difficult to mow the lawn when trail cam photos of big bucks start to pop up. But there's more to analyzing trail cam photos than just drooling over tines. Here's what I look for when I go through my photos. Follow these tips to maximize your trail cam scouting this season:

Make Evaluations

Carefully studying my trail cam photos can help me better determine sex ratios, age class, genetics, population numbers and overall health of the deer I'll be hunting this season. These photos may reveal that I need to harvest more does or let a young buck with a lot of potential grow another year.

Improve Camera Setups

Capturing a lot of big buck photos at night is great for pinpointing a shooter, but these shots are probably not going to help me punch a tag. If I am only getting nighttime pictures of a particular buck, I will automatically relocate my trail camera or setup additional units across the hunting area. The trick is to establish a daytime pattern that will help me intercept a buck during legal shooting hours.

Analyze Clues

Reviewing all of my trail-cam photos can provide little clues that will ultimately tell me when, where, and how to setup on a shooter. For example, the buck I am after may only be sneaking off the bed during the mid-morning or early afternoon hours to visit a nearby acorn flat. These photos might also reveal that the buck prefers to move just before or during periods of rainy weather. Analyzing this valuable information can definitely expose daily habits and tendencies that will allow me to exploit a hard-to-handle bruiser.

With that said, I wouldn't mind bumping into the top-heavy nocturnal giant that my good friend Jarrod Jackson has been seeing around his place in southern Illinois (pictured above). I know my son James would also love to close the deal with the high-racked 8-pointer that has been visiting one of our secluded ambush plots during the daytime hours. Hopefully, our trail cam surveillance and photo analysis will generate some close encounters this season.

We would love to see any recent trail cam photos (send to ttfaulkner@msn.com) or just hear some in-the-field scouting reports from your neck of the woods. If things go well, I should have a few more trail cam photos to post by the end of next weekend. Good luck and good scouting!