Over the last two decades the game trail camera has no doubt become the biggest tool in a hunters arsenal when it comes to scouting whitetail deer. It has become so popular in fact, that a game camera could easily be the equivalent to a cell phone in today's world, because pretty much everyone has one. Back in the day, late summer was just a time when hunters shot their bows in the backyard, and perhaps put out a few mineral sites. However, that was the extent of deer season preparation.
In present times, hunters begin pouring out minerals and feeding deer in front of trail cameras as early as mid May, all in hopes of getting pictures of the deer that they are feeding. They continue this routine all throughout the summer so that they can watch antlers grow in hopes of finding "the buck" that they have put on their hit list when the highly anticipated fall season finally arrives.
A couple of the most popular questions of game trail camera users has to be "how can I get more pictures?" and "how can I get bigger bucks on camera?" Here are a few tips that will not only fill up a memory card, but also improve the overall health of the entire deer herd.
Where Do I Hang My Game Trail Camera?
There are two main ways to place a game trail camera
1. In a mineral and/or food site
When placing a game camera in front of a mineral and/or food site try to find an open area where deer already travel. Place it in open areas that deer can easily get to, as well as have plenty of room for more than one deer to gather at the same time. Open areas also give room to capture more deer in the pictures.
2. On a natural pathway for deer, such as trails, scrape lines, water sources, etc.
When placing a game camera in front of natural areas, place the camera at a good distance so that deer can be seen coming and going into a water source, or coming to and from a scrape, as well as coming and going on a natural travel route.
Tip: Catching deer coming and going is a great way to see which way deer are traveling, at what time, and how often. Knowing this information is a good tool when scouting
When Do I Hang My Game Trail Camera Up?
Again, if putting a camera out over a mineral and/or food site, it should be put up around late May to June in most areas, this is the time that antler growths begins. Leave the camera up until the first part of September, this will allow time for pictures to be taken of antlered deer that may be encountered during the fall season. Leaving cameras up for approxmently 3 months also allows time to see how big of a deer heard there is on one select property.
Tip: Check your states game laws to see when mineral and/or food sites have to be cleaned before hunting.
Somewhere around mid October, hunters usually start seeing scrape activity, this is a great time to put a camera out to catch deer using the scrapes. Once the camera is hung on a scrape, leave it up all the way through the rut. This will allow hunters to see what stage of the rut that bucks are in by seeing if they are chasing does, as well as how often they are checking scrapes, etc.
Tip: Scrapes are also a way to use deer scent such as Wildlife Research Center Golden Estrus, this will lure more bucks to the camera which in turn helps take a better inventory of how many bucks are on a property, as well as if there are any mature bucks using the scrapes.
What Do I Use To Get Healthier Deer?
The answer to this often asked question is fairly simple. Remember this statement, "don't just feed deer, give them what they need to thrive". It is no secret that corn is the most used attractant when using game cameras. Although deer love corn, and it produces a lot of photos, it is not always the best thing when wanting a healthy deer herd. This is because corn is high in starch. Deer are ruminant animals whose digestive system is set up to digest fiber.
When a deer consumes a high amount of starch from a corn pile or a feeder filled with corn, they are more likely to have acidosis which can lead to damage in the digestive system that can be permanent resulting in intake, weight loss, and in worse cases even death. Once a deer has experienced acidosis, it is likely not to return to the area. Deer also need high protein levels in their diet, which corn does not give as well. Instead of corn, try a deer nutritional attractant product like BB2 from Big and J. BB2 has at least 110% the energy value of corn alone, plus it is high in protein, as well as the right amount of starch. One of my favorite features of BB2 is its high aroma. Deer can smell it from a far distance attracting them to come in close and check it out, resulting in more deer and that means more pictures.
Tip: Using products with a lot of nutrients like BB2 along with other mineral sites on a property will give deer a complete balance in nutrition that they need to be healthy.
Putting multiple game trail cameras on a property with nutrient filled feed and/or attractants as bait creates the best of both worlds. It gives more picture opportunities to be able to get an exact count on how many deer are around, all while making deer healthy year round with healthier does that are producing healthier milk to fawns, as well as providing the proper nutrients in antler development which is what most hunters strive for.
Watch Video: Summer Deer Feed and Deer Minerals | Michael Waddell's Tips For Big & J Attractants