THE BIG PICTURE YOUR TRAIL CAMERAS CAN'T TAKE .
A thin strip of oaks spanning 80 yards wide linked two larger timber lots on one of my bowhunting properties. From all accounts, this was the definition of a funnel…but I never got much on my trail cameras there so I avoided hunting it. Deep inside, I always had this gnawing sense that something was wrong, that there ought to be deer moving through there. I neglected my gut feeling for over five years, until one day, on a whim, I walked in with my climber and setup for an “observational” hunt.
What I saw that evening astonished me.
I stopped counting does after 20. Multiple young bucks came through, including a 120s class followed by a 140s class buck during sundown. Between bouts of heart-thumping close encounters (I took a doe thatnight) I kicked my own tail for writing off this part of the property for so long. I made a mistake that I’m afraid too many hunters make in that I relied solely on my trail camera for local intel on deer movement.
Wait, an article bashing trail cams on a website that sells trail cameras?!?
Well, I’m not bashing, but I am cautioning you to avoid the mistake I did. Trail cameras need to be a component of your scouting, not the sole extent of it.
In this particular instance, deer were coming through the funnelon an angle that took them away from my camera. Had I spun the camera on the tree just a little to the east, I would have caught the deer train years before. I didn’t take the time to really look for trails, or scat. I didn’t sit in my vehicle during the summer with binos glassing the area. Had I done any of those, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time not hunting the spot.
Most hunters are busy. We’re balancing family, work, and friends with our passion for the outdoors. There’s just nottime to do it all…and that’s not what I’m suggesting. You probably can’t sit and personally observe every inch of your properties before season, so focus on those areas that seem “bucky” to you. Don’t feel like you have a good sense on what that might be? Invite a more experienced hunter to give you their opinion.
Your trail camera is an important tool, but not the only one in your arsenal. Don’t rely solely on it to give you the big picture of deer movement on your property. That’s your job as a hunter.