Learn how to effectively run trail cameras on small properties.
By: Reese Johnson
Small tract hunting is becoming more and more common as it has been forced upon the hunting community as parcels have been divided and divided again over the past century. Picking up a 10-30 acres tract to hunt whether it’s through a friend, lease, or your own land can be a honey hole in the right area.
Wildlife doesn't see the property lines, they see funnels, food, and travel corridors. Understanding how your target species is traveling through this land is everything in setting up for quality trail cam pictures.
Recently, I purchased a house on 5 acres that backs up to several hundred acres of timber with a few roads and houses between. At the end of the road, lays a farm of similar size that is row cropped. My small chunk of land somewhat fall between the bigger chunk of timber and the agricultural fields. While they do not have to directly cross my land, I’ve improved it to with a little bit of work to make it a spot they would want to come check while going back and forth.
Being in the thick of the timber in a big draw, I spent a couple afternoons after work with hand tools making an opening. In this opening, I built a blind from the trees that were cut and then preceded to clean up the opening and sow wheat and some grasses. The purpose of this was mainly to hold the soil in place while offering something green for any potential turkeys that may use the plot as a strutting zone this spring. As soon as the job was complete, I put my camera on the plot to see the activity. Less than two weeks later with the seeds sprouting, there were two longbeards strutting in the plot with several hens. This is how I will hopefully be able to harvest a turkey on 5 acres with nothing more than a little time and labor.
The key to hunting or running trail cameras on small acreage is to focus on one of two things. The first thing being whatever your property offers that is different from the surrounding farms. Maybe it’s bedding or maybe it’s food, figuring out the natural lay of the land combined with whatever your acreage has to offer should provide you with a great opportunity to gather some pictures. Many times this would be a scrape on a field edge or one of the better trails in the area leading to a bedding area.
The second option and this will vary by state is what you can offer in the form of minerals, bait, or even food plots. This is by far the easiest way to gather some decent pictures on small acreage, but the key is to be consistent. Over the last ten years in Kentucky, some of my best pictures have come from a corn pile in the back yard. While I usually only hunt over the pile for does late season, there have been several solid bucks become regulars but usually after dark. If you can put together a food plot, a mock scrape along the edge is always a great option for pictures. Even something as simple as creating a trail with a machete and chainsaw that is the path of least resistance will attract critters. In the end, it all boils down to what the acreage has to offer that will appeal to your target species. It will also correlate directly to the amount of time and effort put into developing these tracts.