"Running trail cameras through the summer months is a waste of time"....."There's no valuable "deer" information to be gained over the summer". At one point or another I think we've all heard those lines or at least something similar. At a certain point I've leaned in that direction. However, over the last few years of running 100+ cameras and talking/interviewing some of the greatest deer hunters on the planet my opinion is swaying back to the importance of summer trail camera data.
June is month where we can finally start getting excited about whitetails again. Spring Turkey season is a wrap, summer food plots are coming to a close, and #velvetfest is just around the corner. If you think running trail cameras in June is a waste of time, think again! We're going to give you a handful of reasons you need to get your trail cameras out in June to jump start your whitetail season!
KEEP TABS ON MATURE BUCKS AND ANTLER GROWTH
When it comes to running trail cameras in June, it’s more about what’s to come rather than instant gratification. To explain that further, during the month of June we are placing and setting cameras out that we’ll be checking in July and August. While every trail camera user may have slightly different goals for each camera, the underlying theme and main goal is to keep tabs on how bucks are developing and which bucks will be on the target list.
There’s a couple of great trail camera setups to accomplish this. One is a mineral site and the other would be a secluded inside corner of a bean field. One of these two locations will typically give you the most efficient way to monitor bucks throughout the summer without over pressuring your deer.
In addition to just monitoring antler growth and building out a list of your desired bucks, there actually might be some information gained on summer bucks that pays dividends come fall. In a recent Trail Cam Radio podcast interview with Don Higgins, Jake and I carried a conversation about mature bucks coming back to their summer ranges in search of the first hot doe. Don mentions he finds this only to be true around a very narrow window of dates but with great consistency.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR FAWN RECRUITMENT
I think it safe to say, all trail camera users love to view photos and videos of fawns. Something about their playful spirits and new life coming with spring green up draws at our connection with the outdoors. Beyond the pure enjoyment there's also some relevant deer information obtained in June about what the fawn crop looks like. How many fawns are dropping, how many are surviving predation, and when exactly were those fawns dropped.
A healthy deer herd will produce somewhere between 80%-100% fawn crop. If you find that less than 80% of adult does on your property are dropping fawns then there could be a serious problem. That number simply includes bred does dropping fawns, it does not include any fatalities of fawns. The fawn survival rate is definitely something to monitor through the summer months and it should give you an idea if further work such as predator control or a specific type of habitat is needed on your parcel.
One of the most important things to note with fawn crops is the actual day the fawn hit the ground. Understanding that adult whitetail does have approx a 200 day gestation period you can mark the calendar to the day of when she was bred last fall. Gestation periods differ a day or two from herd to herd and even between does but having a ball park conception date gives you some great frame work of the details of the rut on your parcel. Also, with more scientific research published around spike bucks, we now better understand that those spikes were likely late born fawns who are at nutritional disadvantage.
WORKING OUT THE KINKS
June is a great time to get new cameras, that you’ve added to your fleet, out into the field. Regardless of the camera brand or model if it’s new to you it will take some time to learn the best settings, locations, and best use case for that camera. If you’re running cellular cameras that statements holds even more weight. Some guys will want to wait until September or later to get these out but if you have the time, get intimate with your cameras now! Figure out where they excel, figure out where they struggle, get familiar with the mobile app so when the hunting season rolls around you’re all business.
GET OTHERS INVOLVED
With a growing family myself, this is one of my favorites on our June trail camera checklist. June is great time to get your kids, family, or other friends out into the field to experience how much fun it can be to run trail cameras. The weather is typically mild, there’s less worry about the pressure and human intrusion you’re putting on the deer, and there’s no need to sneak around. Get them out there, teach them about nature, how to identify a track, how to setup a camera, how to change cards, and most importantly teach them how to enjoy the outdoors.
There's no doubt that with each passing week the anticipation for whitetail season grows. In June, we're excited to get cameras out! In July, we're excited for that first card pull! In August, we're excited to see where all the antler growth ends up! By the time September rolls around we're simply ready for that first sit and from everyone here at Exodus we wish you the best of luck!