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Finding Bucks By Using Trail Cameras

Finding Bucks By Using Trail Cameras

 By: Alex Comstock

Often times, the first step to being able to send an arrow through a mature buck is by locating one. Of course, you can always get lucky and put down a buck you may have never seen or knew of before, but it doesn’t always work out that way. A great way to locating a mature buck and starting the process of figuring out how to harvest him is by using a trail camera to locate him in the first place. Once you know where one is living, you can then start to make a game plan on how to hunt him. The beauty of locating bucks with trail cameras photos is that it can be done in a variety of different ways, and today that’s what we’re going to talk about. 

Locating Bucks in Food Sources

Arguably the most popular way for hunters to locate bucks is over food sources. Whether this be food plots, ag fields, hard mast, or even mineral or bait stations during the summer. Depending on your hunting area, finding a big buck utilizing a food source on trail camera could just give you knowledge of the fact that he is just living in the area, or if he’s visiting the food source in daylight or close to it during hunting season, you may be able to make a play to hunt him. Don’t get yourself in trouble with this one though. Many hunters like to use trail cameras on food sources because of the ease – which is great. But with that, a lot of bucks coming to a food source might be occurring under the cover of darkness, but people will still hunt over the food source hoping the buck randomly shows up in daylight. This isn’t the best strategy, but don’t let it deter you though. Once you use that trail camera to identify where a buck is feeding or using water sources, you can then start to put the puzzle pieces together to try and figure out how to send an arrow through him. 

 

Scrapes

 

Scrapes are a fantastic way to find bucks through the use of trail cameras. Though all deer visit scrapes, bucks prioritize them, especially later in the fall. Hanging a trail camera over a scrape can be a great help in identifying many bucks in an area. I will run some trail cameras over scrapes all throughout the year but come September, I start to transition all of my trail cameras over scrapes. I think this could arguably be the best way to actually identify bucks through the use of trail cameras. Once again though, just as with food sources, a lot of scrape action can be during the nighttime hours and not in their core area. But just like the first point, don’t let that discourage you if that’s the case. If it’s early in the fall, work backward. Where is a buck headed to or where is he coming from? Start to answer these questions, and the information you get from the trail camera photos can help you get in a favorable position of tagging a target buck.

Annual Rut Areas

Have you ever scouted a spot in the summer thinking “This could be a great rut spot”? Whether it be loaded with rubs from previous years, some type of natural travel corridors, adjacent to bedding areas, or something along those lines, by getting a trail camera up and leaving it to soak all fall, you could get a great idea of how bucks are using the area. Maybe they are doing what you thought they would be, or maybe something will show up that will make you re-evaluate the spot. What I’m getting at is by having a trail camera up for the entire fall, you can then pull the camera after the season, and use that information for the following year. 

A great example is a camera I just pulled last weekend. It sat all year last year and after going through the photos, the only time I had good daylight movement from mature bucks was the first two weeks of November. Going into this year, I’ve now got a good timeframe on when I should hunt it if I choose to do so. 

Conclusion 

I’ve always said that trail cameras have been the greatest technological advancement in deer hunting and the best scouting tool. They are an unbelievable tool and when used properly, they can really help your deer hunting efforts. There’s a lot of ways to use them and locate bucks, but these three specific ways are some of my favorite. Between these spots for camera locations food feeding areas, scrapes, and annual rut areas, once you locate a specific buck(s), that’s when the real fun starts. Those photos are just a small piece of the puzzle, and it’s up to you to put the rest together.