Trail cameras on public land- everything you should consider when scouting in a national forest.
The Exodus team has spent countless hours of scouting and hunting public ground in the Buckeye state. Since starting Exodus Outdoor Gear, we've placed close to a hundred cameras across the various national forest, in hopes of locating a big whitetail to hunt.
What we've learned with that volume of cameras is at least a lifetime knowledge, that keeps evolving each year we get data from approximately 100 cameras.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, it's important to realize hanging cameras on public land is different based on the tract and area. Some public land areas have very high competition and make it very difficult to keep your cameras undetected or hunt mature deer.
So before considering these tips- think of the public land tracts you would hang cameras and hunt.
- Are they highly pressured with hunters?
- How large is the huntable tract?
- How close is hunting area to where you live?
Now you should have the property roughly in mind and some of the attributes regarding the area.
So let's dive right into what we've learned.
Hang Them High
Hanging cameras higher in the tree are perfect for keeping your cameras out of sight from dishonest hunters.
We almost exclusively use this method and have had less than 5 cameras stolen out of 100. That's a solid percentage given the volume of cameras we have out. We've also found, less deer give the cameras the "stare" that often happens when a camera is placed only 3-4 feet off the ground.
Use Lithium Batteries
We place cameras on public land with the intention of leaving them for the entire season, if not longer. Unforanltey, checking cameras biweekly would take too much time. Since they are left in the field for so long, we have to get the absolute most out of our battery life.
Scout for Next Year, This Year
Now, this might sound a little crazy but just hang in there. Every year we find a spot on a public that we won't hunt this year, but we're curious to what type of human traffic and buck a particular tract might have. The best way for us to get enough data to hunt it intelligently often requires us to hang a camera there all year and make a game plan for that area the following year. This is obviously a bit of luxury, but just set aside one camera and find a spot you've always been curious about.
We've found bucks often stick closely to an annual schedule. So if the buck showed up Oct. 23rd for the first time that year, there's a good chance he'll be in the nearby area then the following year (give or take a few days).
This should give anyone a strong start to running cameras on public land, or even private. Remeber the three big things to net a more success:
- Hang the cameras high
- Use Lithium batteries
- Scout this year for next year
If you use those three stratgies, you will be ready to chase some specific bucks!