Using Trail Cameras to Effectively Scout a New Area

Finding a Buck's Core Area! 

Exploring new hunting ground is intimidating. A variety of limiting factors put extra pressure on a hunter to score early into their hunt before conditions get tougher. Too many visits into a core area disrupt and change how and when the deer move through. Private land has limited space and public land comes with uncontrolled pressure. Obligations in everyday life make hunting time precious and we want to make all the right decisions to increase our odds.

Modern technology enables mobile scouting. We can observe aerial imagery from a birds eye with topographical contours all in one view. With boots on the ground, strategically placed trail cameras confirm if the deer are where we want them to be. Let’s face it, we need to start somewhere.

But that should you do if the SCOUTEK app sends a notification to your phone that one of your Render Cellular Cameras picked up a photo of a big buck and you want to hone in?

One of the most effective strategies I’ve personally seen warranted was deployed by a Video Creative from my show, Chase Nation, and he has proven his method year in and year out for as long as I’ve known him. Joe Braund is far and wide one of the most dedicated trail camera operators I have come to know and the way he uses cameras to locate and home in on a target buck is unique.

Before you assume the generic “bed to food, food to bed transition” camera placement, think bigger picture – this is only the first step to locating a big buck.

Joe is largely a public land hunter. When he deploys a fleet of cameras they are spread out and placed in the same core transition areas you’ve heard about time and time again.

Certain terrain features like:

  • Hard habitat transitions
  • Funnels
  • Benches and saddles are a start.

If there’s a natural food source, like an apple tree in the Midwest, or plum tree in the Dakotas, these are key food sources to stage cameras to see the caliber of bucks in the area.

Once Joe identifies a buck that has his attention, he begins pursuing that specific deer. He’ll pull his satellite cameras and surround the specific camera that captured the big buck photo. He starts out wide and patiently observes the dates and times the target buck happens by. The goal is to narrow down the buck’s movement and eventually reveal his bedroom. Every camera is dedicated to learning more about that specific buck.

Let’s face it, as often as deer might return to a specific food source you can’t count on a consistent pattern for very long before wind direction, hunting pressure or any other disruption changes their course from one night to the next.

One of the most promising areas to key in on is where he feels the safest – his bedroom.

Joe continuously shrinks the perimeter of his camera fleet until he’s narrowed down where the target buck is bedding. It’s almost never where hardcore hunting literature defines.

Mature bucks are different animals. They’ve lived through stories only imaginable, and they’ve adapted to survive. Sometimes that means bedding in areas daily hikers walk by, or right near a road or parking lot in-between those places we slam our car doors or drive by and the remote areas we assume the biggest bucks are hiding.

Joe’s strategy of starting out wide to locate a big buck then surrounding the spot where the first photo was taken with an ever-shrinking circle of cameras has given him an edge on arguably amongst the most challenging bucks to hunt. He narrows down the bedding through a combination of photographic evidence combined with the details of date and time stamps.

With snow on the ground Joe will occasionally walk in the same day he’s notified a camera picked up his target buck and cut the bucks track to trace it back to the bed. He moves stealthy and slow and observes from a distance. The key to tracking a buck is taking it slow and giving yourself time to look ahead and recognize potential areas the buck may be holding so to avoid a hard bump. Once he dials in with boots on the ground he moves in that evening for the kill.


Take a minute to look at this sequence of camera strategy: 

Try using cameras methodically to not only locate, but narrow down his movement and bedding location to maximize your time spent in the woods next fall!