There is a lot more to positioning a trail camera for successful pictures than simply mounting it in a tree in the bush. Deer can be canny enough to make it necessary to go to greater lengths to ensure regular subjects pass in front of the camera lens.
There are a number of ways that you can improve your prospects of capturing a wide selection of bucks in all their glory. Some of them will require a little bit of extra work before the start of hunting season while others should merely rely on your ability to read the signs.
- Create A Deer Funnel
- Take note of the bedding and feeding areas
- Take note of water sources
- Create A Food Plot
- Set Up A Deer Feeder
We will take a closer look at the logic behind each suggestion and how using them will increase your prospects of, firstly, taking a picture of the deer and, secondly, learning their habits and movements.
Create A Deer Funnel
The way in which a deer or a herd of deer move around can be very predictable because they like to travel along the easiest paths where they have a sense of safety and security. These paths are known by the term deer funnels and they are created by the repeated passage of hoofs over the same ground. But they can also be created to persuade deer along the routes that you want them to travel along.
The process of setting up deer funnels should start well before hunting season begins. The idea is to look for an existing deer trail with the most likely places to be between the bedding area and a food source.
When deer travel they choose the easiest path rather than the most direct route. So a path can tend to meander along flatter, safer terrain. They also tend to travel along routes where consistent protective cover can be found for the majority of the way. When a safe trail has been found that the deer feel comfortable traveling along, they will use those same funnels season after season making them far more predictable in their movements.
In order to persuade the deer to move in front of your camera position you can create a blockage along a favored path to divert them where you need them to go. This blockage will have to be set up well before hunting season begins so that any scent that is left behind has long gone and the deer have returned to the trail.
One of the necessary factors that must be included in any redirected funnel is protective screening cover. A whitetail will feel most secure if there is a thick mass of vegetation along the trail. This might mean planning well ahead and planting some vegetation along the way. Alternatively it might mean cutting through a particularly dense stretch of vegetation and leaving a thin channel that creates a naturally protected funnel through which the deer will feel secure.
Pinpoint Bedding and Feeding Areas
By understanding the places where the deer are moving from and to you can position your camera in a location that is more likely to get regular passersby.
If you are going to mount your camera between a deer bed and their food source you should do so in the early season period. During this time of year a whitetail deer will not move around much. They will tend to limit their movements to and from their primary food source.
Working out where deer bed down is the first step that should be taken. The easiest way to do this is to start at the end of the previous season and follow the deer trail from the feeding area. You will eventually be taken to an area of dense cover such as tall grass, thickets or other protective foliage. Finding a matted down area with droppings in the vicinity will tell you that you have found their bed.
Now that you have established both the bedding area and the preferred food source you can position the trail camera. As already mentioned, the deer will not be doing a lot of moving during the early season but any moving that does take place is going to be along this small stretch.
Take Note of Water Sources
It’s not enough to merely look for a water source and expect that this is where the deer will come to get a drink. It must be a sheltered water source where the deer will feel secure with plenty of covering vegetation in the area. If you can locate this popular drinking spot and the bedding area it will provide you with a good opportunity to set up a trail camera along the trail between the two locations.
Deer lose water in three ways, urine, their droppings and their breath. On average a deer will require around 2 to 3 quarts of water per 100 pounds of body weight. This rises as the weather grows warmer and drier.
If you are trying to get deer to your trail camera during the warmer months your best opportunity is going to come by positioning the camera on a trail that leads to a water source. You are more likely to meet with success if the foods that provide the deer with have a low moisture content and the temperatures are high.
Naturally, the usual rules will apply when it comes to mounting your trail camera. Try to disturb the surrounding environment as little as possible so that your scent is not spread across a wide area. Also, make sure you remove scent from the camera by spraying it with a scent elimination spray.
Create A Food Plot
The movement of a herd of deer can be controlled over a longer period of time by good deer management through a quality food plot. By growing a tasty crop of clover or corn you can train the deer to return to the same ground year after year.
Once the deer become used to moving into the abundant food source the trail camera, which will have been positioned in anticipation of their traveling habits should get a more than adequate selection of subjects. By setting up a food plot that is planted with an array of different food sources you will be able to keep the area populated all year round.
Plan ahead. Set up a suitable location for mounting your trail camera then plant your deer plot. A good late summer crop will bring a consistent parade of deer past your camera to provide you with plenty of chances to get a great shot of a whitetail buck.
An added bonus is that if the camera (or at least the security box) has been mounted before the food plot has been established the deer will accept it as part of the landscape when they first move in. This means that there is less likelihood that the camera’s presence will spook the animals later.
Set Up a Deer Feeder
A deer feeder might be an idea to consider to bring deer to the exact spot you need them to be to get good shots. This idea is only going to work at the times of year when natural food sources are depleted. In the early season they are more than likely going to be more interested in the sweet green offerings such as clover.
As the deer become used to the workings of whichever deer feeder you use they are going to be happy and feed from it. The added advantage of getting them used to something like a feeder is that they are less likely to bolt just because the trail camera has made a clicking noise.
Drawing deer into the field of vision of your trail camera at a deer feeder is certainly one of the more popular tactics that are employed. This is the tactic that you might like to employ if you have a camera with an overly slow trigger speed. The lingering nature of the feeding deer will give the camera plenty of time to capture good images.
A problem is, tough, that the resultant shots don’t show the deer performing in their natural habitat. It all looks a bit too domesticated for my liking.
There should be no reason for day after day of no deer pictures. With some planning, a little bit of work and a good quality trail camera s\you can orchestrate things so that the deer are more than happy to parade past your mounted camera so that a nice clear picture can be taken.