Hunting season is approaching quickly. Have you been collecting pictures and scheming to kill your hit list bucks? If you don’t have cameras up yet, now is the time to pattern a big boy for opening day, or create the perfect plan for when the conditions are just right to slip into the woods.
Here are some tips for finding those big critters in the end of summer and early fall months.
Mineral Site: A mineral site (where legal) can be a deer magnet during the late summer and early fall. Scrape out an area in the ground and pour the mineral brand of your choice, mixing it in with the soil and then pour the remainder on top. Select a tree about 25-30 feet away where you can mount your camera for optimal photos.
- Typically it takes a week for deer to locate this and start using it regularly.
- This is a great place to condense high volumes of traffic in front of your camera.
Green Fields: Green fields are always a good spot to catch deer on the chow. You can collect a lot of photos and view most of the deer in your hunting area.
- These are great spots for those who want easy access to collect their cards or are learning a new property.
- Most of these pictures will be near or after dark when deer feel safe to feed.
Both Mineral areas and food plots are solid, no-brainer spots to hang your cameras. These spots can load up an SD card quickly. However, those pictures may not necessarily help you tag your trophy. Here’s why: If you are looking to form a game plan to stick Mr. Big in the early season, you have to be collecting the information that will allow you to pattern him during legal light. There is no denying the joy of plugging in your card and seeing that there are thousands of pictures, but I would choose 100 pictures that I can learn something from over 1000 pictures after dark when hunting isn’t possible. If you want to take your summer scouting to the next level and if you are looking to put the pieces of the puzzle together to find your trophy, here are some places to start.
Secluded water: Deer have to drink daily, and the wise old ghosts often hang around in heavy cover close to these secret water sources. If you hunt in an area where water sources are sporadic, you can bet that there will be some traffic in these hidden watering holes.
- Make sure you do not disturb the area too much entering and exiting when you go to check these cameras, you don't want to let the big guy know that you're on to him.
- Don’t have water on your land? You can make a strategic watering hole on your own property. Even a cheap homemade design can draw deer.
Heavy Cover Corridors: Heavy cover corridors are especially great areas in the summer. Find a spot where trails intersect and hang a camera so it is shooting down the trail rather than across it.
- Deer often move through these areas fast and if your camera isn't facing the right direction, you may be looking at a lot of butts.
- Map out your hunting property and use these photos to trace the trails towards where he is bedding, and where you can ambush him on his way out to feed.
Staging Areas: One of my favorite places to hang a camera is the staging area because deer will typically post up in these spots for a while before they enter a field or make their way to sleep. They are prime for seeing your deer in “legal light”. These pictures will provide information about which side of the field a deer enters, and how much time he spends “hung up” before he is ready to step out.
- Bucks are normally still in their bachelor groups so often times if you get one on camera, you get multiple.
White Oak: If you find any white oaks on your property look no further! You have located a hot spot for hungry timber donkeys. This is one of the more consistent spots to get big deer on camera in the early season.
- Find your enter and exit strategy. Do not just go busting into the woods and stink up the place.
- Leave this camera if you can until you go in to hang a stand or hunt that day. Keep your success levels high and do not alert game in the area unless you have a good reason to be there.
Find the Fruit: Deer love apples, and if you have an orchard or some clusters of apple trees on your property, stop reading this and get a camera on it! One thing I have found is that bucks will often stop by apple trees before they head out to the crop fields to eat. Taking advantage of this would increase the chances of catching him before dark.
Burns and Clear cuts: Recent burns or clear cuts in the area will draw deer to the new greens shooting out of the ground. This is a protein packed source of browse for all deer, and typically they are more willing to browse in these areas in daylight with the feeling of safety and secludedness.
- Look for a ravine or low spot that enters these areas and hang your camera accordingly