By Alex Comstock
During a time not too long ago, trail cameras seemed like a tool that made hunting easy. I’m talking about when trail cameras were first introduced to hunting and hunters. People thought that by having a trail camera in the woods, it was practically considered cheating. As time went on, more and more people began to realize that’s nowhere near the truth, as utilizing trail cameras doesn’t guarantee you anything. What they do though is give you an added layer of knowledge of what’s happening in your neck of the woods, and by using that information correctly, you can no doubt increase your levels of success.
Since trail cameras first came out, they have developed and come a long way. Think about how crazy the difference is between the first trail cameras, where you had to go get film developed at Wal Mart as you anxiously waited to see what had walked in front of your trail camera, to today, where now you can instantly see what’s moving in front of your camera via cellular trail cameras. It’s honestly kind of mind-boggling to me when I really think about it, but at the same time, I think it’s extraordinary. Trail cameras have changed the game, and now with cellular cameras, they’ve changed the game yet again. The question for a lot of folks now though is how to use cellular cameras when it comes to deer hunting, and that’s what I’m going to cover here.
In my mind, there are two distinct differences in ways you can use cellular trail cameras for deer hunting, and they’re very different. One is using them for out of state hunting, and the other is to help you decide exactly when to head into your stand, even if it means within a few hours.
Out of State Hunting
The first way is throughout of state hunting. I find that cellular trail cameras have made an enormous impact on this type of hunting. You can better plan your trips, know what kind of activity has been going on in your out of state area, and you don’t have to guess as much upon arrival to an out of state hunt, or you don’t have to spend your first-day checking trail cameras.
For me personally, I do a lot of out of state hunting, and I run a lot of trail cameras. I’ll usually decide when I’m going to leave for an out of state trip strictly based on time of year and weather, and when I show up for that out of state hunt, I’ll check my trail cameras and pray that the buck I’m after is still alive, that deer are indeed using an area I thought they were, etc. I’ll then a lot of times base my hunting decision largely on what my trail cameras show me.
The advantage that cellular trail cameras give you is you can be monitoring deer movement via trail camera from multiple states away. Let’s say for example you know you want to take a trip on this particular out of state hunt sometime in late October or early November. If you have the flexibility in life, you can wait until those trail cameras start lighting up or until more mature bucks start showing up and THEN decide to make your trip. When you arrive to hunt, instead of first having to check trail cameras to see what’s been going on, you already know and can jump right into hunting.
When Do I Make a Move?
The other big reason I’ve seen cellular trail cameras make a big impact is when you’re after a certain mature buck, and you don’t want to hunt until you know he’s showing up in daylight or close to daylight. Instead of having to go into a spot again and again to check a camera, you can stay completely out, and once those bucks show up, you make your move.
A great example is a friend of mine was hunting a giant in North Dakota a few years ago. It was early September, and he was determined to not hunt the buck until his cellular camera told him to go after him. One early September morning, he got a text from his cellular trail camera, and it was a picture of that buck heading back to bed. It was already 8 am. What did that tell him? He knew the buck wasn’t going to bed far, given the fact that when the picture was taken of the buck, it was already daylight and he knew the buck wouldn’t venture much further in daylight. With that knowledge, he figured the buck would be coming back through the area in the evening in daylight, given how close he was probably bedded to his stand. That night, he went into his stand and ended up sending an arrow through the North Dakota giant. If it wasn’t for his cellular trail camera, he might not have shot that buck.
Cellular trail cameras can no doubt help you as a deer hunter, the key is just being able to put them to use in the correct way. As I touched on in this blog post, the two things that I find most attractive with them is being able to monitor hunting areas from out of state and being able to stay out of a spot until your trail cameras tell you to go in. There are other reasons they can help you, but these two are at the top of my list to help you as a deer hunter.