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University » Articles » Trail Cameras; A Deadly Tool

Trail Cameras; A Deadly Tool
by Russell Scarbrough

Trail cameras can help you determine when deer are coming into your set-up and what quality they are

Trail cameras can help you determine when deer are coming into your set-up and what quality they are

If you’re like me, then you can be leery of trying new things. It’s hard to make yourself change to something new, when the product you already use seems to perform just fine.  This was the case for me when the carbon arrow crave started some years ago, while my friends and I were still shooting aluminum arrows.  I fought off the urge to try them for several years, but I eventually caved in and purchased some carbon arrows, just so I could see what the rage was all about.  I can honestly say that I have never looked back since that day.  The advantages of carbon are ten fold, and I could not ignore it any longer.  I had this same stubborn mindset when it came to the use of trail cameras.  I avoided them for years, constantly telling myself that didn’t need them and that they would be no help to me with my style of hunting (mostly public land) at the time.  I had no feeders or rice bran piles to set the cameras up on, and I thought they would be useless and bothersome to me.  Boy was I ever wrong.

My first experience using trail cameras successfully was in November of 2007.  I was on a three week hunt, and I had bought three new cameras to use while on the trip.  With not being able to bait on a NWR, I had to locate the hottest sign I could find to set my cameras up on.  In my mind, that was going to be red hot oak trees and active scrapes.  I started setting my cams up on several different active scrapes.  After moving them around a little, I started getting pictures of a few deer in different locations.  For an evening hunt, I decided on a stand location where I had captured several pictures of a few young bucks and several does feeding under a cluster of five water oaks that were dropping acorns like rain.  I quickly climbed to twenty feet in one of the oaks, and set up my Lone Wolf hang on stand.  Shortly after, I was settled in for the evening hunt and sure enough, an hour into the hunt, up walks the young eight point I had pictures of on my camera, on a steady walk right to the cluster of oaks, just like he had the previous days before.  He slowly progressed right to my set up and stopped at 12 yards broadside.  As he put his head down to pick acorns, I came to full draw and anchored.  Seconds later, I sent a Grim Reaper tipped arrow threw his chest.  A couple of short jumps followed by a loud crash, and he was down for the count.  Looking back now, there is no doubt in my mind that I had killed that deer because of the information I had gained from using my trail cameras.  These days when I am going on a hunt for a week are two, you can guarantee I will have three or four trail cameras with me.  Those days of sitting in one spot, wondering about what may be happening at another location are long gone.  There is no need for a hunter to spend his quality hunting time sitting in a tree that has tons of sign under it, but come to find out the  deer are only visiting it after dark.  One way to avoid sitting in a tree like this, and to maximize your stand time, is with the use of trail cameras.  I like to go into an area, scout it out, and pick the best looking spot I can find.  Then I will set up a camera on the sign using my best judgment for placement.  After the first camera is placed, I keep moving and looking for another spot with enough sign to make me hang another camera.  Once I get all my cameras out, I will start hunting the best sign first.  Then, while checking my other cameras for activity, I can move them as needed and plan my next move based on the information I gather.  The scouting and camera moving never stops, because I am always looking for the next set up.  This allows me to hone in on a high activity spot, it tells me what time the deer will arrive, and most importantly what kind of deer arriving, without me having to sit and wait.  This routine keeps me on the move and seems to really work well at maximizing my stand time and increasing my odds for sitting in a stand with deer underneath it.

The author used the information that his trail camera showed him to kill this buck.

The author used the information that his trail camera showed him and killed this buck.

Last season I had the chance to lease some quality land for the first time in my life.  Needless to say, I jumped at the chance full force.  I had known about this property for several years, and had always watched it from afar.  I knew it held some great deer, but I never had the chance to actually step foot on it. I signed the papers with the land owner in mid September and hunting season opened October 1st, so there was no time to waste.  There was one problem; living eight hours away and having to be at work, left me with no time to scout or prepare. The morning of October 1st arrived and I found myself hunting in Illinois with a few friends.  From the time I signed the paper work, until the end of my Midwest trip, I had no time to return to my newly leased land in Arkansas.

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