Trail Camera Strategies by PSE’s Will Jenkins
By Will Jenkins
There’s been a surge in Trail Camera interest, technology and options in the last few years. I started using them about 3 years ago. Recently a few friends and readers have come to me with questions about where and how to set cameras up since they were new to the game. I have 3 major strategies to the placement of trail cameras and you can hybridize them and they can all overlap but each provide a little bit different information about deer movement and identifying where your deer are.
Travel Routes: If you’d like to see when and which deer are using the travel routes through your properties, this should be in your arsenal of camera placement strategies. Look for game trails, find major entry or exits into a field or where they are crossing a road and follow them into the woods a good ways. Put the camera about waste high 10 – 15 feet off the main trail. I try to let these cameras set for 2-4 weeks and take note of what animals are traveling the trails during what time of day.
Fields/Food Source: Putting a camera on a field is great because the camera’s field of view is so wide and not restricted by trees and brush so you can see a large area. Strategically placing a camera in a field can give you a lot of information as to where the deer enter the field and at what times. With some of the ‘Plot Watcher’ cameras or cameras with a ‘Plot Watcher’ option like the you can really get a good idea of the activity on fields or plots in a time lapse style video. This could save you a lot of frustration when you hunt a well traveled trail that you think is a field entrance in the evenings but is a field exit and the deer won’t be there until well after shooting light or at dawn. Look for high traffic areas in the field or points in the field edge that are between any know bedding or staging areas.
Bait: Being in Virginia where you can’t bait during the season I use bait outside of the season to take inventory and get better quality pictures helping stop the deer in front of the camera and help draw some more deer into the area. Use bait when you can’t nail down a trail and the property holds little or no food source. It helps draw the deer to an common place for some good pictures and if you place the camera with some thought to where you think they are coming through it can help you further identify travel routes. For instance behind my house it’s a maze of thick areas and infrequently traveled trails with a few areas of sign. However there is also a creek and a couple of clearings. Both provide good visibility to where I think the deer are traveling. I put bait in the clearing and by the creek, faced the cameras so they have the most clear view of potential travel routes and hopefully when I check them this weekend I’ll have some good intel on the movement in the area.
As I mentioned it’s easy to mix and match them, put a little bait on a travel route to give them a reason to pause for a picture or maybe bait a field edge before crops are planted to keep them interested in the area. This may be obvious to some but as a new comer it can be daunting to have one or two cameras and hundreds of acres worth of options. In comparison to many I’ve only been using cameras for a short time and these are the strategies that have worked for me. What are you’re strategies?
Will Jenkins is creator of TheWilltoHunt.com and Harnesses For Hunters. He’s an avid outdoorsman who enjoys sharing his experiences through his blog. He also writes for Bow Adventures e-Magazine and is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association.
Will lives in Central Virginia with his wife and two kids. He hunts in Virginia and Maryland but has dreams of heading west to hunt Elk and Mule Deer.
Keep your eye out for the #elktour DVD over on huntography.com! Watch PSE’s Emily Anderson and Dustin Jones hunt elk DIY style on our amazing public lands in the Western United States. Huntography also films a deer hunting DVD called #deertour which you will be able to watch PSE’s Will Jenkins hunt whitetails. Huntography…filming America’s hunters, one at a time!