Now that deer season is rapidly approaching, it’s time to put our scouting techniques into high gear. Hopefully we’ve been out to some perspective spots and have done a little bit of looking around. I like to narrow down the best three locations and have a plan for each one. One great way to actually see what critters are moving through our spots is to use a trail camera. It would be nice to know for sure if all those tracks include one good sized buck. There is no real way to know, even if you’re an expert tracker, the quality of the game in a specific area. A good trail camera leaves no doubt.

There are many good quality cameras out there, some under a hundred bucks, that will do the job. I chose the Stealth Cam G-30  and have been pretty happy with the quality of the pictures. A few of the things you want to look for are LED flash for good night pictures, one with high megapixels, video capability, and the ability to shoot bursts of pictures. Most of the newer cameras offer all these options. There is no need to get the most expensive, highest quality camera out there. A hundred dollar camera takes just as good pictures. The other thing you want to think about is getting a cable lock and a body lock so that it doesn’t get stolen (it happens).

A couple of ways to ensure you see the whole picture is to try and point your camera to the north. That keeps sun glare from ruining your pictures. It also prevents too much backlight and overexposure. Another thing many people do wrong concerns the angle of the camera. Instead of pointing the camera perpendicular to the trail, try to take a 45 degree angle. I learned this the hard way when I looked at my shots and saw a lot of deer butts. The angle gives the camera time to respond and more of a chance to get a few shots of the game. The best way to make sure you’ll get some good shots is to try it out. Sometimes you think it’s a clear shot, and then you see a branch in the way. Or, the angle looks right but the camera is aimed too high or too low. Also, if you are in an area frequented by people, finding an inconspicuous spot is a good idea. People generally leave them alone but there are those guys (the same ones that shoot road signs) that will put an end to your investment.

Finally, get out there early and move the camera around between your best spots. It takes time but is worth it in the end. As the season gets closer, you will have a pretty good idea of what to expect come opening day. A trail camera is a wonderful tool to help you get the most out of all that time and effort and it’s really fun, especially when you find out there’s a big mountain lion lurking in the spot you’ll be sitting at in the pitch dark. Well, it’s fun to me anyway.

Photo credit: Rich Wright