With the price of today's trail cameras well within reach of most bowhunters, you're hard pressed to find a hunter who doesn't own at least one or two. Most of us put these handy little devices out during the mid-summer months in hopes of catching a monster buck lurking within our hunting areas. Just one photo is all it takes to get your blood pumping and cause many nights of lost sleep leading up to the hunting season. However, this isn't always how it plays out in the whitetail woods.
Heading into this summer I was admittedly anxious to find out what would show up on my trail cameras at one of my primary hunting areas here in the Chicagoland suburbs. Last year was one of the worst years for getting pictures of good bucks on this farm, despite the fact that I was able to connect on a very nice whitetail in mid-November. Having taken out the lone buck that was a consistant resident of this area I was unsure who would take his place come this fall.
After shooting this buck last fall I was somewhat concerned to see what bucks, if any, moved in to take his place. During the course of the fall he was the only buck that showed up with any consistancy on my trail cameras.
With 6 trail cameras running since early July, my fears have somewhat come true. I have yet to get a single picture of a buck I would consider a shooter. In fact, it took several months before I got a picture of a buck at all! If anyone is proof that there isn't a Booner behind every tree here in Illinois, it's certainly me.
This up and coming 2 year old has been a regular on two of my cameras this summer. He's nice, but not a shooter.
It seems like each year I have a plethora of these messed-up yearling bucks running around. I have no idea what happens to them after the fall is over. They seemingly disappear.
I'm pretty sure this buck is a 3 year old, but his jacked up left side doesn't exactly get my heart pounding.
I believe this the the oldest buck I've captured on my camera this summer at 4 or 5 years old, but he won't score much over 100 inches with that rack. If I see him, there's a very real chance he'll get an arrow flung his way...
Another up and coming 2 year old who will probably disappear after this season.
Possibly the best buck I have on camera so far, I think this buck is 3 years old and will be lucky to hit 125 inches gross. A nice buck, but not what I'm looking for this season.
Despite my lack of targets for this fall, I'm not worried yet. Every year there's always a few bucks who move through this area during the end of October and into November when the rut kicks in. I know my stands are hung in the best spots to catch one of these cruisers when they make the mistake of coming through, so there's no need to panic quite yet. The same goes for those of you out there who are in a similar situation. Just because the big bucks are eluding your trail cameras right now doesn't mean they won't make the mistake of moving into your area later in the year. The key is to hunt hard, hunt smart and be ready when he shows up! After all, you just never know what's going to happen in the whitetail woods.
I captured several photos of this buck, nicknamed "Big Mac", last season but nothing after November 18th. I didn't find his sheds and don't have any photos of him so far this year. Although I have no idea if he's alive or not, I'm still holding out hope that he's around and until I know otherwise he is my #1 target on this particular farm.
With that said, heading into opening weekend Mike and I will be hunting a new farm that we picked up roughly 2 1/2 hours from home. We know there's at least one shooter roaming those woods and we're pretty sure there's a few more where he came from. This weekend we plan on putting out a few mock scrapes using our Tink's Power Scrape and seeing what our new Stealth Cam Prowler trail cameras can pick up. I have a feeling we'll be pleasantly surprised the next time we check our trail cameras. The Prowler shoots great HD videos so I'm excited to see what shows up. As most of you know, scrapes are possibly the single best place to get a lot of photos/videos of the bucks in your particular area.
The angle of this photo is deceiving, but with a few weeks left to grow I'm hoping this buck topped out well into the 140's, which makes him a shooter in my book.
Good luck to those of you who are heading out for October 1st this weekend. Remember to always wear your safety harness and shoot straight!