Admit it: At some point while sitting in your deer stand, you’ve thought about how cool it would be to have the power to turn invisible. Think of all the mature bucks you’d see as you slip through the forest! Of course, such a power isn’t going to be available anytime soon, so the next best thing for checking on whitetails is investing in several scouting cameras.
Regardless of whether you call them trail cameras, game cameras or scouting cameras, they provide an invisible you when time or terrain limits your ability to scout. Time is the big factor in scouting. Family, career, extracurricular activities and community volunteer hours all limit the amount of windshield time you actually have to place eyeballs on buck activity.
Terrain also limits firsthand scouting. Obscured fields, interior food sources, nocturnal bucks and a host of other habitat factors hinder seeing deer. By using an invisible army of trail cameras you can monitor these out-of-sight areas and bucks without giving away your presence to the local whitetail population.
To guarantee outstanding deer images, begin with a high-quality scouting camera. You’ll want to purchase more than one camera without raiding your child’s college fund. Many sales outlets include product reviews onsite such as Cabela’s. See what others are saying and then consider solid options that have fast trigger times, infrared, large memory capabilities, video and compactness, all at an affordable price. Next, load up your scouting partner with the highest memory allowable and with long-lasting batteries such as lithium selections. This combo promises your invisible army won’t give out on you regardless of weather conditions. Plus, your cams will continue to track deer movement even if you don’t visit it for a month or more due to little league commitments.
Lots of memory also allows you top-secret status if you follow the “less is best” rule. Many top deer hunters stress that fewer visits to check scouting cameras is best. Too much activity on a hunting property allows deer to pattern you instead of vice versa. A 32 GB memory card or larger allows you to space your visits to every other week, or more. And instead of checking the card onsite, simply swap cards for a speedy exit.
Another school of thought works without secrecy. Simply combine camera checks while planting food plots, filling protein feeders, or even putting in ground blinds. Station the cameras along field edges or trails where you can drive up to them in a truck or ATV. Swap cards with the engine running and then exit just like a farmer doing daily chores. When deer hear you coming, they have time to casually move out of the way or hide in nearby thick cover.
Of course, if you party with Donald Trump, your bank account may allow you to shop for scouting cameras with a live, wireless feed. Several companies now market models that zip images and video straight to your screen device.
Finally, consider trail camera placement. You likely have several sites you hope to monitor. As you set cameras, consider a 45-degree view of the pathway instead of a broadside setting. You gain a larger trigger area with added potential to capture fast-moving targets. For secrecy, consider using infrared and placing the camera higher. This puts the camera out of the field-of-view of most animals, but still allows the capture zone to activate and trigger the camera.
Not only will scouting cams help you pattern whitetails and increase your chance of success in the field this fall, but every time you sit down at the computer to check a memory card, you feel a little bit like a child on Christmas morning. Scouting cams are a vital component of my hunting strategy, and they’re just plain fun to use, too.
This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s.
Hunter and deer image by Mark Kayser; product images courtesy of Cabela’s