Tips for Summer Trail Camera Scouting

Tips for Summer Trail Camera Scouting

Trail cameras have made scouting easier for a lot of us. No matter the time of year, they are a constant and watchful eye in the woods. During the summer, scouting isn’t about patterning the deer so much as it is assessing your herd. Rather than worrying about where the deer are going to be on opening day, use the warmer months to estimate the bucks’ health and age, and start making a hit list.

Use the Right Camera

If you’ve got food plots on your property, hang cameras there first. Cameras, such as the PlotWatcher, will take time lapse images throughout the day. This ensures you’ll never miss a photo opportunity and will get a snapshot of the deer herd. Assess the number of bucks, as well as which ones will be shooters come fall.

While the most basic trail cameras take still images, those with video capability allow you to better gauge a buck’s age and rack. Many brands offer high definition. If you prefer a model that only takes photographs, ensure it has a short delay and allows bursts of successive shots. Different angles of the same deer will aid in assessing him.

Most all trail cameras are motion sensored and equipped with a flash for nighttime shots. Be sure to choose a model with an infrared flash. It’s subtler than a white flash model, which can spook deer.

Focus on Food and Trails

Food plots are ideal locations for summer trail cam scouting. So are feeders or bait piles. Focusing your efforts around food sources is the best bet to get consistent images. Trails leading to them or to bedding areas are other good locations. Since the deer will be moving, it’s best to use a camera with a fast trigger speed.

The best spots for summer trail cam scouting are near food sources, where bucks are guaranteed to roam.
The best spots for summer trail cam scouting are near food sources, where bucks are guaranteed to roam.

Target Water Sources

In the dog days of summer, it’s hot and likely dry. For the deer, a lack of water can be a real concern. Creeks come to a trickle and ponds dry up. Any water sources that are left will attract every deer around. Hang a camera here. These locations, where the herd congregates, can be among the most reliable to get quality images during the summer.

Minimize Your Impact

It’s tempting to be in the woods every few days to check on your cameras. The idea of having a trophy somewhere on that SD card can drive a man mad. But it’s best to only enter the woods every two or three weeks to minimize your scent in the area.

Make an Assessment

You’ve got more pictures than you know what to do with from all different parts of your property. Now what? Keep organized files on each buck with potential. Assess his age and rack size. Then, make a determination if he’s a shooter. Once you’ve whittled down your list to a few bucks, study where they like to hang out. While, in the fall, this will change, having an idea of where he beds, travels and eats can put you in his general location early in the season before the hunting pressure intensifies and the rut starts. You’ll also be able to gauge how many fawns are being reared. This helps in estimating future population and overall health of the deer. You can also monitor them for any diseases.

As fall approaches, bucks will go nocturnal and other sources of food will become available. That means patterns change, but it doesn’t mean your summer recon will have been in vain. By then, you’ll have a firm grasp on the health of the deer, reliable early season hunting locations, and a hit list of bucks you want to target.