What I Learned From My Trail-Cam Photos

This past week I made my first card pull from my trail cameras. I will move the cameras around quite a bit throughout the early fall to find the bucks and to see which ones are moving during the day. It is truly exciting to stick the SD card into the reader and see what pops up. With that first pull, I was not disappointed. I found a number of nice mature bucks on the farm and that really got me excited for this coming season. In this week’s blog, I want to take a few minutes to tell you what I learned from that first set of photos.

First, I learned that a few of the bucks we had been following all summer—two of them among the four I had on my hit list—are still on the farm and living in places where we expected to find them. In fact, they are living in the exact same places where we found them last year in early October. I think that is almost comical in some ways. They are so predictable, yet so hard to kill. The reason they are hard to kill is the fact that they slip increasingly into nocturnal habits as their testosterone levels rise and they drift toward the month of October.

However, I was encouraged by the fact that the buck I call “Big” was showing up repeatedly in front of the camera in daylight. This is earlier than I usually put out cameras, so I am trying not to draw too much of a conclusion from this evidence, but there is some hope that this year he will be a different deer. I have seen it happen before, where bucks actually become much more visible once they get past a certain age. It is almost like they become complacent or overly comfortable in their setting and their infallibility. I will keep watch on this buck to see if that is really the case or if the images just came early enough in the year that the buck hadn’t yet slipped into his fall nocturnal bias.

Second, I noticed that he is the dominant buck in that area. Whenever he showed up in front of the camera, all the other bucks that had been there only a few minutes earlier evaporated. He had the small corn pile all to himself. That tells me that he is likely the most dominant buck in that area. At age 6½ he is finally “The Man” and all the other bucks know it. That makes me think that a well-timed rattling sequence on the fringe of his core area might just do the trick. I know exactly where that is going to happen too; in fact, judging by the direction he came from when approaching the camera (the first image in each sequence pretty much tells me his approach direction) I have a pretty good idea where he is bedding. I am not going to push that area at all, because it is pretty much the same area as last year. I have a high degree of confidence that I know right where he lives now.

Unless something changes dramatically over the next few weeks, I have a much better sense of where and how to hunt that buck this year than in the past. Experience with the buck and trail-cam photos have given me all the information I need to put together what I believe to be a very good plan.

I will talk some more about that plan next week, but for now, it is enough to say that you can learn a ton about the deer you are hunting if you will really study those trail-cam photos.

Good luck! Now check out the video.

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