Fine Tuning Moultrie Camera

Early season is typically the easiest time to pattern bucks. Deer are more predictable when it comes to water, feed and mineral locations from mid-summer to early September.

Velvet ShedVELVET SHED

When bucks begin shedding velvet in mid to late September, they tend to start separating from their bachelor groups. This is around the time when you’ll want to make your first camera transition. Continue to monitor mock scrapes but start transitioning some cameras closer to known-bedding cover and funnels that lead to food sources. Bucks will start becoming loaners preparing for the long rigors of the rut, and they will separate themselves into different areas of your property.

Scrapes and Mast CropsSCRAPES

As we get closer to October, deer will begin feeding heavily on mast crops and bucks will begin working scrapes with much more frequency. Some of the most productive mast crops are acorns. Be on the lookout for white oaks and red oaks that are dropping acorns. Deer will naturally be drawn to these energy and fat-rich nuts and you’ll want to transition some cameras to the most active trees. If you find chewed acorn hulls and deer droppings under these oaks, chances are they are being frequented by deer. Keep in mind, these mast trees will only drop for a few weeks, so if you find a hot tree get a camera on it to see what’s feeding.

You’ll also begin to see a major uptick in scrape production now. When you locate fresh scrapes, immediately move cameras to those that are near inside corners of food plots and fields, as well as any good scrapes and rub lines inside the timber. These will be the key places leading up to late October when things start progressing quickly as the pre-rut stage begins. Look for main travel corridors between bedding and feeding areas and place cameras there. Bucks will be cruising these areas during the daylight more as they search for does that will soon be coming into estrous.

The RutTHE RUT

As the rut turns full swing and bucks start to lock down with does, moving a few cameras to those key thick places where bucks will push does for breeding will pay big dividends. Places such as small CRP patches, small cedar thickets, and thick cover in the woods. These areas are tricky and seem to be good for only 24 to 36 hours as a buck will stay with a hot doe while she’s in estrous. Other bucks will be looking and searching and likely scent the hot does as well. However, moving a few cameras to these key locations just prior to lock down will keep you ahead of the game. Keep in mind that some of these areas are very sensitive to human intrusion. Using a cellular camera setup or only checking when entering or exiting a stand location will reduce the human-intrusion factor.

The second rut will be about 28 days after the main rut. This is when young does — and does that weren’t bread during the rut — will come into heat. You will see small flurries of rut activity that seem to happen randomly. Keep some cameras in those rut-travel corridors leading to and from doe-bedding areas. This will keep you scouting in productive areas.

Post RutPOST RUT

You will want to transition some cameras back to key food sources, as much of the deer movement will once again start to happen in and around food. Focus around well-worn trails leading into the food source. Look for the trails with tracks that lead into the food and not leaving the food. However, many trails will be used for both entry and exit and so those are good sets as well.

Keep cameras rolling in and around food sources but don’t forget those transition areas leading from bedding to feeding. Many mature bucks will enter food well after dark, so you’ll want to catch them in the timber near the bedding cover leading to the feed.

If you will take the time to map out your hunting area using an aerial photo or topo map, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the seasonal transitions and your success rate will sky rocket. Getting these pictures will help you put together a big-picture view of how the deer transition and move through your hunting property at different times of the season — which will help you pattern that mature buck that you’ve been after.

About the Author: Chris Parrish has won turkey calling contests at the highest level and has hunted up and down this continent. He has a well-honed knowledge of the habits and patterns of mature whitetails — having recorded 22 bucks in the Pope & Young and Boone & Crockett record books. He’s been an ambassador for PRADCO Outdoor Brands as well as many more. Chris has a passion for sharing his knowledge with others, so look for more of his articles here and at Moultrie Products and Summit Stands.