Summertime Pics

I truly can’t remember what it was like to live in a world without digital trail cameras. My hunting life has been so greatly enhanced by these invaluable tools that I think I get almost as much enjoyment from monitoring my cams as I do from hanging a tag on a big buck. Almost.

I love running cameras in the summer because they provide me with updates on the incredible process that is antler growth. To see a buck go from fuzzy bulbs to branched antlers in just a few weeks is truly one of nature’s most amazing processes. Beyond keeping tabs on individual bucks, monitoring cameras in summer can also tell us an awful lot about the status of our deer herd as a whole.

POPULATION CENSUS

POPULATION CENSUS

It’s entirely possible to get an accurate estimate of the total deer population in the area you hunt by using trail cams. And if you want to get serious about doing a trail camera survey the right way, be sure to check out the Quality Deer Management Association’s vast resource library. It’ll give you excellent insight into conducting a survey that will provide highly accurate details on your total population, as well as sex ratios.

But you can also take a little more laidback approach to your survey and still get a solid idea of the number of bucks summering in your hunting area, as well as monitor for any emerging disease issues when it’s hot and dry.

BUCK INVENTORIES

BUCK INVENTORIES

There’s no better time to see what kind of bucks an area is holding than during the summer, and the very best way to do it is to with a mineral station, which will position deer in front of your trail camera and give them a nutritional boost to boot.

While some of those bucks you see will stick around for fall, keep in mind that many have distinct summer, fall, and winter ranges. You can minimize their dispersal a bit by providing quality food sources (food plots, feeders, etc.) but don’t be surprised if you lose a few bucks come mid-October.

For mineral sites, I like a camera that captures both top-quality photos and HD video. Moultrie’s M-50 is a solid choice that won’t break the bank. For food plots, the Panoramic 180i is a great option because it can cover an entire plot and capture images of every deer in a 180-degree arc.

RATIO AWARENESSRATIO AWARENESS

Because mineral sites and food plots draw a good number of deer, you will begin to see a pattern with regards to the number of does, fawns, young bucks, and mature bucks. Again, we’re talking about an informal census here, so you can’t take those numbers to the bank. But you will get a general and consistent idea of the makeup of the deer herd in your area, which will in turn help you develop your hunting strategy for fall. —Tony Hansen

About the Author: Tony Hansen manages for and hunts mature whitetails in his home state of Michigan, where sweating the details is the only way to succeed. When not hunting his own properties, he can be found pursuing deer on public land throughout the whitetail's range. Tony's writings have appeared in Outdoor Life, Traditional Bowhunter, North American Whitetail, and Bowhunter