Scouting has been made significantly easier thanks to the technology of trail cameras. While in-the-field scouting still plays an important role is honing in on your targets, trail cameras can pick up what one may miss due to human error. The trick is placing these extra pairs of eyes strategically, and accurately depending on the season, or patterns of the animals you may be hunting.
During the beginning stages of the season, larger groups of male bucks looking for mates, and others looking to shed their velvet hides tend to populate most areas. They have yet to be pressured by hunters or predators, so they are often much less keen on their surroundings, letting their guard down at times. Keeping that information in mind, deer will be searching for food and water first and foremost. Setting up cameras around food plots and sources of water is a great way to track their movement.
Try to find a herd’s bed-to-feed trail. This is the path that they commonly stick to when traveling from their bedding areas to their favorite sources of food; a great area to set up cameras throughout. Early in the season, mature bucks traveling solo tend to use these paths as well because of the reduced pressure.
During the pre-rut stage of hunting season, deer are much more aware of hunters and have begun to adapt much stricter schedules, with bucks’ testosterone levels rising as well. Because of this, rut signs will begin to pop up everywhere. Keep an eye out for scrapes along trees and heavily wooded areas. Setting up cameras overtop of or near these trees can capture great photos during any time of the day.
Once the rut has arrived, bucks are plentiful. Pinch points are landmarks to always look out for. These are high-traffic areas in which paths begin to narrow, forcing herds to cram together. A visual representation would be an hourglass shape within the brush. Setting up a camera in or just near one of these is ideal.
Following the rut, it can be a little trickier finding your desired targets. At this point in time, it’s typically best to revert back to older strategies, sticking to food and water sources and bedding areas. Deer will be more focused on bulking up before colder temperatures. Keep in mind that deer will be significantly more skidding having been hunted for several months on end. They will be in the densest hiding areas imaginable. Hanging cameras downwind can give you great insight in this scenario.