Tips for Summer Trail Camera Deployment
The summer months are the perfect time to get back on the trail camera train as our collective minds turn to summer scouting. We always stress the importance of the summer when it comes to setting the stage for success in the fall, and there is good reason. It's just plain difficult to put an arrow or a bullet in a mature whitetail buck without some kind of scouting intel in your back pocket.
Trail cameras are obviously all of the rage when it comes to scouting in 2019, and that has been the case for many years at this point. There is simply nothing more low-impact and effective than a modern trail camera sitting on a tree and doing your scouting for you. No offense to those who enjoy some old-school eyes-on-deer scouting. It's all good, but trail cameras just do it better.
I can still sense some of you out there shaking your head in disagreement, and that's perfectly fine. We can all have our preferences. However, I'd be willing to bet that those of you who disregard the value of the trail camera have bad experiences with them. Maybe you failed to properly set it up, bought a junky camera, or simply didn't have any luck deploying them in the field.
The summer is a perfect time to fine-tune your trail camera game, whether you are an experienced pro or a struggling newbie. That is where we come in with some tips and tricks for trail camera success this summer. Let's jump into it.
Get a Quality Camera
Just like your favorite bow, gun or any other piece of gear in your kit, you get what you pay for in trail cameras as well. Luckily for the modern hunter there are tons of reasonably priced yet high quality cameras on the market today. You can get into a high quality camera for under $100 without a question. Look for a quick trigger speed somewhere under 1-second, a solid photo resolution in the neighborhood of at least 8 megapixels, and you definitely want an infrared flash system to avoid spooking deer.
It's All About Location
You can buy the most expensive and fancy trail camera on the market today, but can you guarantee that it will produce results? Only if the camera operator (YOU) places it in the right spot. These cameras today really expand our margin for error, but location is still paramount. Try to place your camera over a hot summer food source. That could be on a trail along a green soybean field, over a feeder or mineral station, or even on a simple travel route between the bedroom and the feeding fields. Your best location will obviously vary per situation.
The more important note has to do with how you mount that camera and set it up once the perfect location is selected. Mounting height should be somewhere near your belt line or abdomen. Be mindful of the objects that your camera will be staring at constantly. Avoid fields of blowing brush and tree branches that will trigger endless shots of nothingness. It's also important to have your settings down. Always opt for the fastest trigger speed setting possible, a multiple photo burst, and the quickest reset option as well. All of these things help you to get less noses or butts and more full-body photos.
Believe me, I know how hard it truly is to stay away from a trail camera once you have deployed it. You're just dying to get out there and see that big velvet bruiser on your card. After all we are months away from the season. That may be true, but you defeat the purpose of a good trail camera system when you constantly bust into the field to check them. Pick a location and let it marinate for at least a couple of weeks before you bust in again. If it yields solid results, swap that card and let it roll. If not, simply reposition and repeat. You just don't want to be the guy who wears a path to his camera. Not only does it hurt your chances of producing hot pics during the summer but it conditions the deer to your presence ahead of the fall season.
Knowing When to Deploy
You really can't go wrong by running your trail cameras at any point from now through the beginning of your respective season. However, it's always best to have a strategy. I have always been a big believer in deploying my trail camera arsenal no later than the first of July. So, that means you can start positioning them now and through the next few weeks. It's go time.
I like to use the middle or latter portions of June to hash out that all-important note on the proper location. The earlier you get those cameras into the field, the sooner you can jump in and see if that camera is going to produce. It's always best to know if you're on deer before those bucks start piling on inches of antler in July. You definitely do not want to be hunting for the proper trail camera location as the antlers are blowing up in late July or August.
As a finishing point, I want to be sure to remind every hunter out there to enjoy the summer trail camera scouting process. If you have never given it a shot, definitely change that this summer. Running trail cameras can get nearly as interesting as being in the stand with your bow or gun. Seriously. You can definitely tap into a quick adrenaline rush as you pop that SD card into your computer and await the results. Not to mention what happens when you flip to a picture of a true giant.
The summertime is the perfect time to get into trail camera scouting and truly perfect your craft, so have some fun with it!