It is no secret that trail cameras are a tremendous scouting tool for deer hunters. You are now capable of monitoring your deer herd 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This amount of visibility can increase your success rate if used correctly.
Many times hunters are tempted to use bait piles in front of trail cameras. This is a great tactic to survey the population of an area but many times these areas are avoided by mature bucks. Master hunters like Joel Snow tend to focus trail camera use on funnel trails and trails entering or exiting a food source.
Using a natural food source is a great way to scout for deer without alarming or increasing awareness. Setting up a feeder or a bait pile is not natural. You are also required to visit this area much more often to restock the area and this increases human scent and pressure in the area. Setting up a trail camera on a food plot or agriculture field will reduce pressure and provide a more natural travel pattern of the deer.
This is not a tip about the perfect trail camera placement but instead we are going to focus on trail camera direction. The direction the camera is pointing can completely screw up the picture but it can also tell you alot about the deer you are hunting.
Watch the Sun
Deer move most during the early morning and again in the late evening. This is the time of the day when the sun is low in the sky. If you have your trail cam facing directly east or west you risk losing the picture of the giant buck. The camera may capture the image but it will be washed out because of the over exposure caused by the sun.
So you have avoided the sun and your set up is perfect. The Bushnell Trophy Cam HD is watching a creek crossing where you have been seeing a gigantic track. It is the day before Halloween and you are excited to check your camera on your new deer hunting lease. Bingo…The fifth picture is a wide 10 point that is crossing the creek at 7am. His tarsal glands are black as pitch and he looks like he is cruising for does. The picture is perfect and he is definitely on your hit list. You email the picture to your hunting buddies and file it away in a folder
BUT..What else could you learn from this trail camera picture?
Time Stamps and Weather
The timestamp on the picture tells me there is a plenty of shooting light left because it is only 4:38pm. Please remember to keep correct time on your trail camera. It is pointless to put a camera out if the date and time stamp is incorrect.
The trail camera picture on the right shows two bucks moving down a ridge. I know the camera is facing north so this must mean the deer are moving to the east. Cool that is a start.
With the help of technology and the hard drives at WeatherUnderground we can search historical weather data. You can search by zipcode and date to get detailed weather data. This lets me know the wind was out of the NE at 6mph and the deer were traveling east when they tripped the camera.
To Summarize Trail Camera Direction
- Keep sun position in mind when setting a trail camera
- Set the time and date stamp correctly
- Catalog deer direction and travel patterns
- Make note of wind direction and weather details when saving trail camera pictures.
Using the tips above are guaranteed to increase your odds at bagging a trophy buck.