Every summer thousands of trail camera photos get posted on Facebook, discussed over drinks, and saved on hard drives by excited hunters—but rarely are these pictures put to any real use in a hunting strategy. Now that fall has arrived, it’s time for those trail cam photos to shift from simple conversation pieces to tactical tools.
Here’s what to look for in your next set of big buck trail cam photos to make sure these important pieces of data are helping formulate your hunting strategy—and not just cluttering your desktop.
The first thing to key in on with trail cam photos of a big buck is how often he’s showing up on camera. If you’re getting photos of him several times a week or more, there’s a good chance he’s living nearby and you can likely hunt him.
Another variable that can help you understand a buck’s home range and behavior is the timing of the photos. If you’re getting photos during daylight, or just before or after dark, you can bet that you’re set up relatively close to his bedding area. This is a great clue that you’re in the right area and an indicator that it’s likely time to head in and hunt him.
When analyzing photos of a buck it’s also important to note the conditions present when this deer passed through the area. Wind direction, moon phase, temperature, and precipitation all influence deer movement. If you can start understanding what conditions lead to activity from this buck, you can plan your future hunts accordingly. I use a tool found at HuntSoft.com to aggregate and analyze this kind of data from my trail cam photos.
The final thing I pay attention to in each photo is the direction that a buck enters and exits the frame. This is an imperfect science, but if you can decipher which direction a buck is approaching from in the evening, it can give you another handy clue in determining where he is bedding and where he might be headed to feed.