Turkey season is a thing of the past and the dog days of summer appear to have arrived whether we were ready for them or not. If you’re like me, the next couple of months are the most dreaded months of the year. Hot weather, and nothing is in season. Sure, there are things to do to pass the time in the summer but bonfires, fishing, and golf just don’t suffice. One thing that keeps us hunters mildly sane in the summer are those velvet bucks that we start picking up on the trail cameras. But this also poses a lot of questions..
When should I be putting my trail cameras out?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Some people will run their trail cameras year round, and that is absolutely fine. I typically pull mine after all the bucks are shed out sometime in March. I do leave a few out during turkey season but the bulk of my cameras get a few months off before heading back to the woods in late July. I choose to wait until July for a few reasons. I like to leave the woods as undisturbed as possible during the late spring/ early summer months because this is when deer are starting to calm back down and settle into their summer routines. If they are left alone, the better the chance of them getting comfortable on the ground that I hunt. I also wait until late July to put them out because this is typically when the bucks become recognizable. I don’t see a sense in getting inventory before then on deer that have knobs on their head, I rather stay out of the woods and let the growing season take its course uninterrupted.
How often should I be checking my cameras during the summer?
Weekly? Bi weekly? Monthly? Again, this is a controversial topic. No matter the circumstances, I would say weekly is not doing you any favors in the summer. The longer you can hold out in between card pulls the better. It’s not like you are going to be hunting anytime soon, so you might as well let the cameras soak. A fresh set of batteries and a large SD card will suffice for a long time in the summer, even on a mineral site. I try and wait 4 to 6 weeks in between checking trail cameras in the summer. That said, I still don’t check them without throwing caution to the wind. Mid day checks in the rain are ideal.
Aside from mineral, where are the best places to hang my cameras this time of year?
Bean fields are becoming more and more appealing every single day now, these field edges are a great place to start. Water is often over looked but whitetails have to drink several times a day, a local pond, or stream crossing is another great place to gather summer inventory.
What can I learn from summer pictures?
I take summer pictures with a grain of salt. It gives you a good idea of the bucks that are going to be in the “area” in the fall but not necessarily the bucks that will be living on or near the ground you hunt. Sure, there are cases where you will get particular deer on camera all year long, but most times the deer will split from their bachelor groups in late August/ early September and set up their fall home range. This is when people begin scratching their heads wondering where the bucks they had on camera all summer vanished to.
Besides checking cameras, what else can I be doing during the next couple of months to ensure that I am ready for the season when it arrives?
There is no better time to burn up the foam. Shooting your bow needs to become a daily thing during the summer. Build up your muscle memory so by the time fall comes, you are ready. I read an article awhile back that related target shooting, to shooting an animal. Practice at twice the range that you would consider shooting an animal at with your bow. If you are going to plan to shoot at 30 yards, practice out to 60. If you are going to plan to shoot 40 yards, practice out to 80. Shooting a target is one thing, but when the moment of truth presents itself this fall, it’s not worth leaving anything to chance.