Game cameras are a useful aid to hunters who want to get a visual on the type and number of deer present in a hunting area. If you've got your eye on that special buck you've seen in years past but haven't quite been able to get in the crosshairs, use of a game camera can let you know if he's still around and how he's looking at present. In order to capture deer on a game camera, placement is of the essence. It is not as simple and just affixing game cameras to any old tree in an ordinary location and having deer flock to it for a photo session. Instead, you have to plan and deliberately place game cameras in locations that will get the results you're after. Here's how:
Food and water are powerful motivators. By using a food or mineral source to draw deer (always check applicable laws before doing this; link to follow) and strategically placing a camera nearby, you are much more likely to capture imagines. By the same token, deer need water to survive, so position cameras near popular watering holes or creek crossings.
Though deer are able to jump, it makes much better sense to place a camera in an area deer can easily pass through as opposed to one riddled with obstacles. In other words, do not hang a camera over a fence but instead at a break in the fence. If nature has created areas through which deer must pass such as where trees are downed or vegetation is overgrown, take advantage of the natural push deer are given to take the path of least resistance.
Pay special attention to areas where rubs and scrapes are present are a good place to position cameras. These are areas that have been used in the past and will likely be used again. Take advantage of such places as they are clear indicators of preferred deer locations.
Some other tips to help you capture images on your game cameras include use of more than one camera to ensure action is captured and adjusting resolution in order to get the best image possible. In the event that you've found what seems like a prime observational location but can't find a good spot for your camera, don't hesitate to create your own. Adding a fence post to which your camera is affixed could be all it takes to get an image of what you hope will soon to be your trophy buck.
When setting up game cameras, it is imperative that you are mindful of Missouri baiting regulations. Information about applicable laws can be found here, but key points to remember include:
Use of game cameras can help you to become aware of the deer you'll be seeing in the field this coming season. They can also give you an idea of whether or not an average buck is worth harvesting or if there might be a trophy coming along. Seeing these images can also aid you in making an overall assessment to the health of deer in your area and could clue you into potential illness as well, such as CWD which is known to be present in Missouri.
- Mineral blocks containing only salt are not considered bait although this changes if grain is present.
- Areas that are baited are still considered to be baited until 10 days have passed after bait removal.
- Manipulating crops is not considered baiting in the case of deer but rules regarding this apply differently to waterfowl.
- Areas in the CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) containment zone have their own set of rules that must be obeyed.
Are game cameras a part of your hunting strategy? Where do you place them? Tell us about your preferences in the comments!