Summer Scouting and Pre-Season Preparationon Aug 26, 2013
Written by Bowhunting.com contributor Jason Herbert.
Like a kid at Christmas, I clicked through each picture hoping for just a glimpse. Fingers crossed, praying to the deer God’s that he survived another season; I finally saw what I was waiting for. There he was, in all of his velvet glory. Heavy mass, wide rack, and 8 points; buck number one on my 2013 hit list has earned his spot- hitting one of my mock scrapes early in June.
Summer Trail Cameras
All the velvety anticipation aside; summer trail camera use is a very controversial topic because of the fact that they are not foolproof. Some cautious hunters don’t bother to hang a trail camera until September. Other brave souls run them all year long. Many well-meaning hunters accidentally ruin a perfectly good season by being sloppy with summer trail cameras. A few false moves while getting a bit too close to a bedding area, such as leaving a trail of human scent, and the deal’s off; that shooter will find someplace else to hang out.
Even though deer season doesn’t begin until the fall, there are all sorts of things hunters can be doing to feed their fix and get prepared for the upcoming season.
Being scent free is crucial here. This goes for all game animals; deer, elk and bears. The animals do not know what month it is, and don’t care why a human is invading their sacred territory. They just know to panic. So, in order to keep the game around, it’s important to not alert them to the hunter’s presence. Be sure to wear scent free clothes; be in hunting gear or regular clothing washed in scent free detergent. Also, spray down everything with a scent killer once the camera is hung.
Trail Cam Locations
The best place to hang a summer camera is in a high traffic area. I like to locate them at pinch points, fence crossings, water holes, popular trails, feeding areas, etc... The camera should be in a place where a lot of game will be, and they won't mind a bit of human interference now and then. With even the most scent free regimen in place, the animals will hear truck doors slamming, talking, the quad running, branches cut, etc... In fact, be loud. By being loud and acting “human”, the deer will notice our presence, but not associate it with our alter-egos, sneaky hunters, come fall.
Hang a summer trail camera in a high traffic location where human presence is expected.
If there are no real obvious high traffic areas, create some. With landowner permission, tie fences down for an easy crossing, fall a few trees to create a funnel, plant a food plot, or dig a water hole. Also, talk to the farmers and landowners. Ask them where they see the most deer. Hanging a camera in any of these areas will be a great place to start.
When hanging a camera, we recommend hanging them high in a tree. Climb with a few sticks or steps, attach the camera, and then use a broken stick behind the top to aim it down. By having the camera sit high in the tree it will help eliminate any animals getting spooked, and also keep it out of eyesight of dishonest hunters. Try to imagine how the shadows will behave throughout the day and face the camera away from that area as shadow movement will drain camera batteries very quickly.
We can’t stress this enough, check local regulations! Where legal, attractants like bait or mineral sites will really attract game from all over the area. In the summer months bucks and bulls crave the precious antler building minerals found in many supplements. Also, if nothing fancy is available, plain old salt works. A lot of western hunters will hike back into their honey holes with 40 pound bags of water softener salt. Elk will come for miles for a taste of the salty mineral that they crave.
During the summer, bucks are highly attracted to minerals and suppliments that contribute to antler growth. Choose a quality product and place it in an area you suspect might be harboring a trophy buck.
Another option is simply putting out shelled corn or other baits. During these same summer months, bears are starting to fatten up for winter, and deer and elk are always hungry. The animals won't be able to meet all of their nutritional needs with these tasty treats, but they will keep them coming back for pictures. When baiting, don’t dump it all out at once, but rather a little at a time, to keep the scent fresh and the animals interested. Every two to three days should suffice to create a popular photo destination.