Do's and Don'ts of Summer Trail Cameras Part #1

Nothing feeds a fall hunting fix like placing a summer trail camera. The hope of catching a glimpse of that big buck or bull often clouds the judgment of otherwise woods savvy hunters. The purpose of a summer trail camera is to track inventory. Use it to try and calculate how many shooter bulls and bucks are living in an area. Don’t depend on it to pattern an animal because more often than not, their patterns will change from summer to fall. In fact, many people notice a change in behavior right after the animals shed their velvet. A lot has to do with food sources, where the ladies are living etc... Regardless, don't depend on September camera surveillance for November hunting plans.


They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and this rings true with trail cameras. Carefully placed summer cameras can be a huge factor in fall hunting success. Adversely, a sloppy, all-too-eager hunter can ruin a season by being careless with a summer trail camera. Here’s a list of things you should do, and things you shouldn’t do this summer with your trail camera.


Do- Be scent free

The closer we get to hunting season, the more important effective scent control becomes. Hunters can get away with stinking up the joint while post season scouting, but in the dwindling months before the season starts, scent control is important. Follow all of the regular season rituals; such as a scent free shower, and wearing scent free clothing/boots. Also use Trinity Blast spray liberally! Be sure to spray down the camera, the tree, and anything else that human scent could be left on.


DON’T - Be quiet?

That’s right, be noisy! It’s important to make noise when hanging a trail camera. If possible, drive a quad or utility vehicle to tend the cameras and leave it running. The game animal’s associate vehicles with human presence, but most of them do not take it as a threat. On the other hand, if a hunter continuously sneaks out to check his camera, and gets busted a time or two, chances are that wise old buck won't stick around too long. Hang the cameras loud and proud, and keep the sneaking for the hunt.


DO - Hang them high

To properly hang a trail camera high, be sure to be scent free and bring some climbing gear. The benefits of hanging a trail camera high are twofold. First, the risk of spooking game is much lower if the camera is aimed down from above. Rarely will deer or elk look up into the trees, and when they do, if they happen to see a small light or a brief flash, they’ll associate it with the weather. The other benefit to hanging a camera high is that the chances of it getting stolen are considerably lowered. Thieves also don’t tend to look to the trees for cameras. Just bring some sticks, steps, or a ladder and get about 10’ high. Aim the camera at a certain spot, and prop a stick behind the top to keep it in place.


DON’T - leave them in obvious places

Think of the trail camera as top secret spy gear that nobody else needs to be aware of. In this case, it’s important to hide it from game animals and other hunters. Unfortunately, some dishonest hunters would see another hunter’s trail camera as an opportunity to help themselves. Like we mentioned before, hang them high and keep them well hidden.


DO - hang cameras in high traffic areas


This high traffic area like a fence crossing is a good spot for a summer trail camera. This high traffic area like a fence crossing is a good spot for a summer trail camera.

Remember, no matter how much effort is put into being stealthy, the game animals will recognize some human presence with a summer trail camera. Try to keep them in “high traffic” locations where human presence is expected; like a farm gate, creek crossing, food source, two track, etc... Find someplace where a bit of human scent is expected, and not such an alarm. Most pictures will come at night, but that’s ok. The point of this is to take inventory, not pattern an animal.


DON’T - invade a bedding area

Never ever hang a summer trail camera near a suspected bedding area. Nothing good can come of it. This is where the animals need to feel the safest and old bucks and bulls will not tolerate a lot of human interference near their core area. Hang it on the perimeter, in a high traffic area. Once a shooter is known to be in the area, analyze maps, take notes of weather and time patterns, get a good set of binoculars or spotting scope, and scout from a distance. Don’t bump him in the summer!


DO - use attractants


These summer bucks are curious about the ScentBlocker DUI that  they smell. These summer bucks are curious about the ScentBlocker DUI that they smell.

Where legal, a great place to hang a trail camera is over a bait station or mineral site. Minerals are best because they not only attract every heavy horned brute in the county, but they are healthy for the animals. Try to splurge a bit and get something more than salt. Deer and elk do crave salt, but it doesn’t help develop antler and herd health like a well-balanced mineral will.


Another trick to catch an animal’s attention is to create a water hole or “drinker”. There are several ways to give the animal’s water, from leaving a livestock tank in the woods, to digging and lining a small pond. Either way, deer and elk need water to survive so rest assured if there’s a drink available, somebody will stop by for a picture.


DUI-BOTH-MockupAnother trick and new on the scene, is to use DUI (Deer Under the Influence) to attract deer to feed stations and keep them there longer. This new product is already paying dividends for us and many of our pro staffers, who are finding that many previously nocturnal bucks are showing themselves more readily during daylight hours, and lingering longer at the feed. This product uses a naturally found organic root extract to calm and pacify normally high strung animals. You might consider giving this a try also, as it really seems to boost trail cam activity. Also, and we can’t stress this enough, be sure to check local or state regulations before putting out any bait, mineral supplement, or attractant such as DUI.


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