We’re actually coming to a pretty important time of year for deer hunters, especially those looking to tag a big buck.
Huh, you ask? You’re kidding, right?
Not really. The fact of the matter is hunters are perfectly capable of blowing their chance of a lifetime at a big buck in the middle of summer.
Let me start by saying I love trail cameras. I enjoy them as much as those diehard whitetail pursuers – of which I am admittedly not one, preferring spring gobblers instead – who set out numerous cameras and monitor them religiously all year round. You can get a great idea of what’s happening in your hunting area, what might be available this season in terms of bucks, and you also get a bonus image or two of a black bear, bobcat, fisher or something really unusual, like a bat or an owl triggering your camera at night.
But there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing, particularly when you’re locked in on one specific, trophy buck.
Big bucks didn’t get that way by sheer luck. They have made a living out of avoiding hunters and hunting pressure – or any kind of pressure for that matter. So when you slap a trail camera in his core area and monitor it regularly in anticipation of capturing him on film, you’re essentially creating the kind of pressure he’s used to avoiding. Do it too often and he’ll soon be off limits when it’s time to tote a bow or gun afield.
Like I said earlier, I’m not a big buck hunter. Sure, I enjoy bowhunting and the regular firearms seasons in both New York and Pennsylvania, but I live turkey hunting, not deer hunting. So my wallhangers are limited to a fine 8-point that was my first buck back in the 1970s, and a 136-inch 10-point that blundered into range a few years back as he pursued a trio of does.
But I know enough about whitetails and their habits to know big bucks don’t like to show themselves and don’t react kindly to overzealous hunters acting like paparazzi with their trail cams.
Push them too hard now, and you won’t see them when you most want to this fall.
Low-impact scouting is much more effective when you’re dealing with a big buck. Long-distance observations with a spotting scope work well in many cases. If you insist on running a few cameras – and that’s understandable; they are fun – set them in feeding areas at field edges, and don’t try to wedge one or two in a buck’s bedding area. And don’t monitor them daily; once a week is much better. When you hit the woods to grab the SD card, treat the visit as you would an archery hunt. Cover your scent as you would when heading to your stand.
Because big bucks didn’t get that way by accident. And what you do now can go a lot way in determining whether you’ll get that shot of a lifetime this fall.