Scouting Cameras and What You Need to Know
by Wade Middleton
Scouting cameras are one of the most important tools you can use during the season to locate key hunting areas, identify deer, manage properties, and even find a few surprises now and then. I’ve used scouting cameras all year long for several years now while relying on them to inform me what’s in an area, helping me make decisions on when to hunt areas as well as when to not hunt areas. Additionally, they’ve been invaluable in helping me to determine game populations and the health of the herd in several areas to help determine how many deer and turkeys are in an area as well as identify predator issues. Some of the main things I’ve learned over the years when it comes to scouting cameras are broken down below to help you whether you’re a first timer or seasoned veteran of using scouting cameras.
Place Them in High Percentage Areas
I prefer to place my Stealth Cam scouting cameras near food sources, field edges where trails come into key areas, near water sources (especially in dry times), and finally over bait (where legal). These high percentage areas will provide photos that not only provide an inventory of the bucks and does on your property but also insight on where and when the deer are traveling in certain areas. Keep in mind I am not saying these are the best places to find a big buck, but they will certainly help provide insight on game in the area.
I like to place my scouting cameras near key bedding areas or sanctuaries as I call them. What I try to do is find the travel corridors the deer come and go with into and out of those areas and hunt those. What I am talking about here is I always have locations on my leases that I never go into except when I have no other choice to hunt a certain deer.
As I mentioned earlier, I try to hunt the edges of those areas and in the same manner place cameras on the edges of those key areas to never spook those deer out of there to another property. I use this strategy regardless if it’s a 50-acre property or a 10,000-acre property.
Don’t Keep Them in One Spot All Season
Next up when it comes to deploying cameras is that I am always moving cameras around, but I only want to do it in a manner that it is not intrusive or will risk spooking deer. For instance in Texas where we generally hunt larger areas so I will put cameras out while driving to and from areas in my Yamaha Side X Side as I travel around the ranch mid-day just like a rancher, oil field workers, border patrol or someone working in the area does. When I do this, I try to do it around the same time that others travel on the property. One thing I avoid doing is going out during the fall or winter early and late in the day and place cameras out when deer should be moving as I don’t want to risk spooking them out of the area to another property.
Do Use Wireless Cameras If You Can
Recently I have begun using the cell style cameras such as the Stealth Cam Fusion or the Muddy Outdoors Manifest. These cameras allow you to monitor from afar what is going on in a certain area without ever going into it until you are ready to hunt. By doing this you can go hang a set of stands, go in during turkey season, or in the summer set the camera up and receive the data as you desire it.
On that same note In a hunting situation when I do sneak into an area to hunt I may put a camera along a trail, scrape, or key area that I pass as you sneak low-impact into a stand and then grab it on the way out. My reasoning is you are going through there anyway. This might give you valuable information, especially when bucks are on a pattern in the pre-rut that you can use later in relation to how deer are traveling in and out of an area.
Regardless of how you set up and use scouting cameras rest assured they add an all-new aspect to deer hunting and there isn’t anything better than looking at photos and all of a sudden you see a new deer you’ve not seen before!