Documenting deer data with trail cameras and through the use of photo management software can significantly increase your level of learning.
By: Alex Comstock
Trail cameras have become such a revolutionary part of deer hunting, it seems as though everyone uses them. To get the most out of your cameras, there is more to them than to simply set one out next to your treestand, and hunt at the first evidence of a deer, buck, mature buck, etc. There is a plethora of information to be learned through using trail cameras and using them as effectively as possible will help your chances of success go up.
The first thing that I do after pulling an SD card from a camera is to go through it and determine what photos I want to save. For me, I usually save all pictures of bucks that I can identify, even if they’re young, because I may be hunting that buck a few years down the road. If you are going to get the most out of your cameras, organization plays a large role.
Photo management software can increasingly aid your ability to learn tendencies and habits of deer. The software that I choose to use is DeerLab. DeerLab is a great option because of the number of tools it has within it to help you be successful. All you need to do is import photos into it (from the ones you’ve chosen as pictures to save) and then that’s where the real fun starts.
DeerLab lets you create cameras on an aerial map, and then you can import photos to that camera.
After you create your cameras and import the pictures, you can tag photos, like you would tag a picture on Facebook, but instead of tagging your friend who’s in the photo, you can create multiple tags on each picture. For example, you can tag all of your mature buck pictures “mature” and then within all of those photos, if you want to tag a certain buck, on the pictures of that certain buck you can tag “Gary” (or whatever you call him). Once you tag pictures, this is where DeerLab becomes particularly helpful. You are then able to siphon through the data and see when he’s active based on time of day, wind direction, wind speed, moon phase, etc. But the work isn’t done here, the software provides you the data, but it’s up to you to translate it, and have it truly help you.
Analyzing The Data
If you are hunting a mature buck, you need to find a chink in his armor. He’s mature for a reason and has avoided death for a number of years. Hunting like everybody else, or sitting in your “proven” spot probably isn’t going to get it done. The beauty of trail cameras and software such as DeerLab, is that they are there to help you. If you use it correctly, you no doubt will learn more about either a certain buck, or mature bucks in general, and hopefully, you’ll end up on more successful blood trails as well. So what do you do once you gather the data from the cameras and software?
What I look for when looking at data is twofold. First I’m looking for the obvious. Something such as a buck is more apt to show himself in daylight on a Northerly wind when it’s blowing above 10mph. If I am able to figure out something like that, I then cross check that with other data. What was the moon phase on all of those days he moved in daylight? What was the barometric pressure? How about the temperature? If I can connect more than one dot, I know my odds will go up at having a chance at a buck.
The second thing I’m looking for is general tendencies across all of the mature bucks I’ve got data on. If I’m not hunting a specific buck, I want to learn as much as possible from all of the bucks I have pictures of. Is there some type of general pattern? Are there more daylight pictures on Southerly or Northerly winds? Are bucks moving more when it’s windy, or not windy? A lot of these factors I will then put into play when I decide where to sit, to hopefully have an encounter at one of these bucks.
The amount of data you can compile with trail cameras and photo management software may seem overwhelming. If you are organized and are able to clearly sift through the important pieces of that data, you can learn a great deal of information. The data is one element of the game, if you are able to question everything, including why the data is saying what it is, I firmly believe you will be setting yourself up for future success.