I’ve been using trail cameras for several years now and I have to say as if I don’t get pumped about hunting season enough the way it is, I get even more excited the first time I look at the photos they take.
Over the years I’ve got pictures of a little bit of everything. The animals I can think of off the top of my head are several deer of course along with a groundhog, a red fox, raccoons, turkeys, coyotes, bears and even people.
That’s the thing; you never know what’s going to be on the picture, which adds to the anticipation the first time you look at them. It especially gets you ready when you get a picture of a nice buck. A few years ago I had several pictures of a really nice buck starting in August.
This particular buck was unique in that one of his tines bent inwards and down. He was a perfect 10-point other than a bent G3 tine. I’m guessing that maybe he caught the tine on some barbed wire as there’s lots of it on this property. Ol’ Bent Tine is what I named him.
As mid-September rolled around and the velvet started shedding I got a surprise when I checked my trail cam. The bent tine wasn’t there anymore.
I guess where the tine was bent it cut the blood flow off and that part of the antler didn’t develop into hard bone. So now he went from Ol’ Bent Tine to Ol’ Broke Tine. He also went from a 10-point to a big 9-point with the missing tine.
By the time October and hunting season rolled around I had my sights set on Ol’ Broke Tine. I hunted the first 3 weeks with no sighting of Broke Tine, but I knew he was in the area as I was still getting trail cam pictures of him.
It also kept me hunting in the same area and sure enough as the rut started to kick in he showed himself.
I was sitting in my ground blind on an early November afternoon overlooking a small pond and field when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to the left I couldn’t believe my eyes.
There he was, Ol’ Broke Tine, standing there about 60 yards away. The broke tine was the first thing I noticed.
I tried to remain calm as he started walking toward me. When he got within 30 yards I knew it was now or never. I drew back my bow and settled my pin right behind his shoulder.
The only problem was I misjudged the distance and held my 20 yard pin. I thought he was only 25 yards away but when I stepped it off it was more like 32 yards.
As I released the arrow it flew just under his belly for a clean miss. I knew as soon as I let the arrow fly I should have held my 30-yard pin instead.
Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve … I flat out missed. I continued to hunt for Ol’ Broke Tine as gun season came in, but I never saw him again.
But thanks to my trail cam I got a picture of him during the 2nd week of buck season. I was just hoping he would make it through hunting season and guess what was on my trail cam the following year?
Yep, sure enough, Ol’ Broke Tine came back without any bent or broken tines. He was a perfect 10-point and I was able to make a perfect shot on the 1st day of the 2010 bow season. Ol’ Broke Tine now has a place on the wall and I relive the hunt every time I look at the rack.
Years later I got pictures of an even bigger 10-point that I hunted hard for over a month and finally got a shot at on Thanksgiving Day in 2013. There have been several smaller bucks walk in front of my trail camera as well.
By monitoring the trail cameras I know what kind of bucks are using the area and if a certain spot is worth hunting or not.
They are a great scouting tool and can be used during hunting season to see what you might be missing at another stand location and might help you make up your mind if you want to hunt that spot or not.
So where are some good locations to put a trail camera up? Anywhere you might be thinking of hanging a stand or hunting is the obvious answer to the question, but here are some other areas I concentrate on.
Along fence rows at the corner of a field, any well-used trail at the edge of thick brush, well-used trails going to and from food plots, active scrapes during hunting season, and natural funnels where deer are forced to travel a certain route.
Sometimes it can be hard to find the perfect location to hang one, but you just have to pick a tree and go with it.
I know Tara doesn’t like going with me sometimes to set the camera up because I’ll walk around forever saying, “Well what about over here? No, over there looks better.”
That’s why I say you just have to pick a spot and go with it. If after a few weeks the camera hasn’t taken very many pictures, it’s time to move it.
There are several brands of trail cameras on the market now. All of them are digital and are much more convenient than the old 35-mm ones. I tend to buy the cheaper ones because I’ve had a couple stolen by thieves.
Another hunting season is almost here and archery season begins on Sept. 28 this year. I’ll continue to check my trail cameras until then and hopefully find a nice buck or two to concentrate on this fall.