Beginners often make the mistake of going in to check their new cameras too often. If you don’t consider some important facts about tracking animals and checking on trail cameras, this will drive them away. Were you pushing into remote or covered places, for example?
You don’t want to intimidate animals, and one of the best aids is your vehicle. Keep close to areas where you can drive in to the land. Use open field, tracks or roads, and set cameras nearby, keeping walking to a minimum.
Why is this? It’s because deer, and other animals, are more bothered by a man on foot. They’ve lived with humans showing up for thousands of years, and they know us.
Generally, game animals have become accustomed to motor vehicles and don’t fear them. Vehicles usually make noise and drive on, so deer will avoid them, but don’t flee. Play this trick if you must leave your truck or car to check a camera:-
Leave the engine running so that they hear it, not your footsteps. Perhaps they will smell the exhaust, not your scent, and not see you on foot.
Once you leave with your camera cards, animals may check out where the vehicle was. This is curiosity, not fear, and may get you some pictures as a bonus!
Checking and Placing Trail Cameras on Foot
The placement of trail cameras is always of the utmost importance, on foot as well. Some areas are too hilly, dense or swampy for vehicles, so you must take care. You need to know the lie of the land you are monitoring, and animals’ movements.
Regarding setup, this geography and trail savvy can save a lot of wasted time. Keep cameras in high positions that stay above a deer’s line of sight. Usually they look out horizontally, and thus won’t see the cameras and begin avoiding them.
Be very careful about entering the lands you want to monitor, both entering and leaving. Keeping your excursions infrequent will encourage deer to stay on it and not migrate elsewhere.
What About Deer Bedding Areas?
Areas where deer bed down need extra care when monitoring. Don’t enter here on foot during daytime to check on trail cameras, unless you’re hunting. In that case check on them only on a day that you are actually hunting.
If you want to check here, but it isn’t to hunt, do it at night. Deer will not be present in such places then, so you will disturb the area less. The best practice is to keep away from bedding areas altogether.
It’s better to enter areas such as the edges of open fields instead. You are also better keeping to the edges of fenced property. Being edges, they’re easier to reach on foot in daytime, when deer won’t be there.
What Steps Can I Take Not to Leave My Scent Behind?
Deer have an acute sense of smell – so you must stop your scent from spreading. Firstly, wear rubber boots when you go out in the field to check cameras. Don’t use clothes and shoes you wear every day: use hunting clothing, newly washed.
Remember that your scent lingers for quite a long time after you leave an area. Try to remove any kind of scent animals can link to you. Spray your hands and boots with water, as if you were actually going hunting.
Don’t eat, or bring flavored food with you, and be careful when touching the camera. It’s possible to leave lingering scents that deer don’t trust, around the camera area.
What Are the Best Times to Check Trail Cameras?
It is crucial to check trail cameras at the right time, depending on exact location. Generally, mid-morning to mid-afternoon is best, because most deer are bedded down then. The worst times are early morning and late afternoon when they’re active.
Look at your existing photos – they give you information! The times when you get shots of deer are the times to stay away from. Replacing camera SD cards should be something you do outside of foraging times.
How often you should go to your cameras is answered, “As little as possible.” Two weeks apart keeps the game undisturbed, but every few days will change their behavior. You want to check your photos if it’s not a cellular camera, but be patient!
To Sum Up About Checking on Trail Cameras
Keeping your movement on foot to a minimum, and using a vehicle, is the best. Don’t go to areas where deer browse or rest, at times they‘re usually there. Avoid leaving your scent or any strange odor behind you.
Lastly, there is another bit of good advice. Don’t visit cameras too often, and place them near where you can drive or walk.
Doing these things will yield better pictures and better information.