placing cameras during the rut

With peak breeding on the horizon, scrapes are my go-to camera locations right now. While it was once believed that scrapes were a territorial signpost created and maintained by a single buck, we now know — thanks in large part to trail cams — that they are often visited by multiple bucks as well as does, and they play an important role in determining the overall travel patterns of bucks during the days leading up to the peak of the rut.

Make Mock Scrapes

make mock scrapes

Active, natural scrapes aren’t your only option now. This is prime time for creating a mock scrape and doctoring it up with Code Blue Scents — I’ll be using some combination of Buck Urine, Doe Estrous, Scrape Mate, and Tarsal Gland in my various mock scrapes in the coming days. A mock scrape is a great tactic to employ when you want to coerce bucks to utilize a specific area due to wind conditions or available treestand options. Position a camera near an active scrape to get a sense of the bucks in your hunting area.

Go to Beds

go to beds

Scrapes are far from the only location where cameras should be focused as the rut starts to crank. Bedding areas — particularly those that are known to hold entire groups of does during the day — are critical for rut setups. Those are the bedding areas that will draw daylight-cruising bucks, and cameras using the Moultrie Mobile system are ideal for monitoring them. I don’t like to intrude on bedding areas during the season, so I place cellular cameras on trails that border these areas of thick cover and monitor those sensitive spots without having to disturb them. When bucks start cruising, I know immediately and can plan my hunts accordingly. Knowing which bedding areas a big buck is targeting is vitally important because that seeking phase doesn’t last long. Once does begin to come into heat, all bets are off and that buck might disappear for days on end. Fresh intel is critical.

Don't Forget the Food

don't forget the food

 I’ll also keep cameras rolling on secluded food plots. Again, the goal here is to determine which areas the buck I’m after is frequenting in search of does. Plots that were filled with nothing more than does and fawns all fall can suddenly light up with bucks as the rut draws near. Keep in mind, though: Big bucks don’t get big by being stupid. They can show up in big ag fields, but during daylight hours they’re far more likely to frequent smaller, secluded plots. Your cameras can tell you exactly when that happens.

 Scrapes, bedding areas, and secluded plots — grab some fresh batteries and get those cameras out now before you miss your chance at a hit-list buck.


 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.