There is an unexplainable excitement that overtakes a hunter when checking game cameras. It’s a feeling of anticipation and wonderment. Thoughts of a possible big buck and new buck sightings begin to fill a hunter’s head as they arrive at their camera. However, once the process of sorting through the pictures that were attained on the camera begins to take place, it becomes easy to quickly lose that excitement and become discouraged at all the doe pictures that are taking up space instead of bucks. I urge you not to be discouraged at the sight of an abundance of does on your game camera, they are a very good thing.

Setting Cameras Up During the Summer to Capture Deer

One of the most common places to put a trail camera is over a popular food source during the summer months of the year. This allows one to capture a lot of different deer at one time. One of my favorite techniques to capture a lot of deer on camera is by putting out something that deer want. A lot of hunters will use something such as corn to draw deer into a specific area. Besides keeping deer from being hungry, corn doesn’t have much nutritional value that is beneficial to deer. Instead, I prefer to use a mixture of something that is good for deer such as Big and J’s BB2. This is a high aroma blend of different flavors that consists of high protein – which is excellent for antler growth on bucks. As an added bonus, the taste and smell keep deer coming back, which means they are staying on a specific piece of property. Even more importantly, they are staying in front of the camera. When creating this type of setup, I use 4 to 5 bags, then leave the area for at least 2 weeks. This prevents pressuring the deer by coming into the area too much, which can push deer away from the area for an extended period of time.

The question still remains as to what one can learn from having an abundance of doe and fawn pictures on their camera. After doing so much prep in order to have sightings of bucks, it can be disheartening at first, however having a concern for the overall health of a deer herd is a huge factor in managing wildlife, especially bucks. When putting out my Stealth Cam DS4K camera over a popular food source during the summer months of the year, I am able to see how the deer herd is doing. Things such as how many fawns were born in the spring, how fawns are doing throughout the summer and having pictures with a lot of does helps me to figure out my buck to doe ratio. Keeping a good balance makes hunting bucks during the fall easier.

How to Get More Buck Pictures in The Summer

Even though it is good to have multiple cameras set up capturing pictures of deer in general, I still like to have a couple of different cameras specifically set up for bucks. The way I do this is by placing them in front of minerals only. Yes, does will still appear on cameras that have only minerals in front of them, however during the summer, bucks are growing antlers and need those minerals for better growth. Even though it is not a sure way of having buck-only pictures, my personal experiences have shown that buck pictures outweigh doe pictures when placed on minerals only. Another tactic to try to increase buck pictures is by putting cameras on travel routes or on a water source. Again, the doe pictures will show, however, one will not have hundreds and hundreds of pictures to go through as they have when viewing pictures from a camera that has been set up over a food source.

Fall = Buck Pictures

The most popular technique to get the majority of buck pictures on camera is setting them up overlooking a scrape when fall arrives and they began pre-rut activity. Setting up a game camera over a natural scrape allows for the opportunity to acquire several pictures of different bucks as they check on scrapes. This will help the hunter to determine what bucks are in the area, when they are in the area and what bucks are using it the most. These are all factors that can help in having the knowledge of when and where to hunt. Another tactic I like using is to set up a mock scrape with a Wildlife Research Center Active Scrape Magnum Scrape Dripper. This allows the scrape to stay fresh, which in turn makes bucks visit more often, this too helps with determining what bucks are showing up and when.

I also like to use my Stealth Cam DS4K during the fall over travel routes with the camera on video mode. This allows me to see when deer are going through, and what way they are traveling. More importantly, the biggest advantage of video mode is seeing does travel through and being able to see if a buck is chasing her. This can help determine what phase of the rut bucks are in during a particular part of the season. With the technology of the Stealth Cam, I have been able to hear bucks grunting because of this cameras ability to capture sound.

If used in the proper areas during certain times of the year, game cameras will not only help the hunter see how many deer are on the property, it will also help the hunter become more successful with a harvest. During the 2017 Missouri firearms portion of season, I was able to capitalize on using a game camera. After setting up my Stealth Cam DS4K over a travel route that was near my treestand, I was able to capture does coming through within 20 yards of my stand with multiple bucks a few seconds behind them. After collecting this information, I decided to hunt that area on the first evening of season. At around 4:00 p.m. several does were starting to make their way down the side of a hill to my right. I kept watching behind them in hopes the bucks would still be in chase mode. Sure enough a buck that I had several photos, as well as videos of, came trotting down the hill trying to catch up to the does. I was able to harvest this buck at a mere 25 yards with a Ruger 6.5 Creedmoor.  By having this vital information from my game camera videos, I was able to slip in to my stand when buck movement was at its peak and harvest a buck.

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Heath Wood has been published in many major hunting magazines, websites, and blogs for over the last 15 years. His favorite topics include deer, turkey, and predator hunting. Wood has also appeared on Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World TV, Hunters Specialties' The Stuff of Legends and the popular DVD series Cuttin' and Struttin', as well as the NWTF's Turkey Call TV. Heath enjoys helping introduce newcomers to hunting.

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