A trail camera can be a hunter’s best friend, but if used improperly they can also be your worst enemy. The risk in using trailcams lies in the hunters’ addiction to looking at the photos too often. So the question then becomes, when should you check your cameras?
The answer is as infrequently as possible. Every trip in to a hunting property to check cameras puts pressure on the local deer, just as if you were hunting them. This pressure can eventually lead to local bucks going nocturnal or relocating.
That said, there’s not much point to using game cameras if you don’t ever find out what they’re capturing. If you need to check a camera, try to coordinate the task with a hunt, when you can simply walk by a camera on the way to your stand. Another option is to place cameras in locations where you can drive up to them when routinely traveling your property. Spots like field edges, logging roads, or an ATV path are all good options.
If you have to make a special trip in, I recommend refraining from checking cameras more than once a week during the season. To ensure these trips are as low-pressure as possible, wait for a wind direction that will not blow your scent toward known bedding areas. Head in around mid-day when deer activity will likely be lowest, and if possible, try to take advantage of rainy days to get in and out quietly and relatively scent-free.
Definitely take advantage of trailcams this season, but don’t check them so often that they end up hurting your hunt more than they help.