The whitetail crowd has been part of the trail camera craze since the first film/wind cameras hit the shelves well over two decades ago. Since that time the aforementioned “craze” has only grown. Today, whitetail fanatics use these digital wonders to monitor their coveted deer grounds 24/7/365.
The problem? Many, including top whitetail experts around the country, believe serious whitetailers are relying “too much” on their digital surveillance devices and are putting “too many” of them on small acres of ground. I see the point. These devices are addicting, and when I first started chasing whitetails I found myself checking them every day or two. Before long I was running seven cameras on 40 acres. I noticed over time that the number of deer I was capturing on these cameras diminished, and the quality bucks I had on camera disappeared.
While you will have to make up your own mind on just how much is too much when it comes to your whitetail cameras, I have a little four-step cure to satisfy your trail camera obsession while leaving those “big buck” cameras alone.
- As of this moment, I’m running a total of seven trail cameras over pronghorn waterholes, and because these goats are used to ranchers coming in and checking pond levels and floats in the stock tanks, I can check them every three or four days. I do try to avoid peak drinking times, but in three years of running pronghorn cameras over water, I’ve yet to alter the pattern of a buck using a particular refreshment station.
- In addition to my pronghorn cameras, I have seven elk cameras running in the mountains of Colorado. Like pronghorn, I realize many don’t have access to elk, but many do head West each year to chase these magnificent creatures, and more and more of you black-top burners are finding a way to make a hands-on recon mission months before the opener. I suggest bringing along a few cameras and placing them over wallows, on benches littered with past rut sign and at major trail junctions. You can leave these cameras for months and know exactly what’s been going on in the area when your return for your hunt. No, this doesn’t satisfy the card-pull need, but you’ll spend more time wondering what’s walking past these mountain-cams and less worrying about those big-buck cams.
- Bears are another great trail camera species. I highly recommend, if you have access and can bait fall bears, putting a few cameras (in protected boxes) over your bear baits. The great thing about game cameras over bear baits is you don’t have to worry too much about spooking bears. You have to haul bait in regularly anyway, and this allows you time to check your game cameras.
- Lastly, I always set a few easy-to-access deer cameras. I put them in places I don’t plan to spend a lot of time hunting, but know I will get a few deer pictures. I do this for one reason: to satisfy my card-pulling obsession. It works, and last season I captured a buck on one of these easy-access cameras, set a treestand and killed him three days later.