Best Woods Spots For Trail Cameras

I__00278Mike: Missouri just banned all feeding and minerals, even salt, in the county that I hunt due to two cases of Chronic Wasting Disease. Seems like a dramatic ruling for just two cases, but that is the way it goes.

When I put out trail cameras now, do you think that without the attractant, deer will still visit the same places? Or am I at square one? Eighty percent of the 400-acre farm I hunt is just woods, no food plots. Any suggestions?—Marc from MO

Marc: While it seems like an overreaction, scientists across the country have increased the alarm about the threat of CWD, so we all should expect more decisions like that.

To your question, if you have used the same mineral sites for years, and deer know where they are, it wouldn’t hurt to place a camera or two on the ones where you got the best pictures in the past. Even though you’re not putting out minerals now, some bucks will remember and check the dirt in those spots as they move around the area; certainly not as much as when you had minerals out, but you might get a random picture of a good buck. Try it for a while, and if no pictures move the cams.

But for most of pre-season scouting, set your cameras in these 10 great and proven spots for the woods.

2 Monster Roadkill Bucks

Seems like I have seen an inordinate number of deer hit and killed on the roads this summer, what about you?

Every auto deer kill is a shame, but the 2 below really hurt.

KY raodkill

This 200″ plus non-typical was reportedly killed in the Fort Campbell area of Kentucky. I bet the hunter(s) who were scouting that giant are sick. I bet trail-cam pictures of this deer will surface soon.

IN 2017 roadkill

Word is this cool buck was found roadside in Indiana. In addition to the rack, beautiful dark face. This buck died weeks ago, his rack would have grown a bunch more now.

Trail-Camera Tuesday, July 2017

va split brow

This buck just showed up on a VA farm I hunt, don’t know what spooked him. Big split brow on left!

I__00063

Heavy VA buck going through that same little gap between 2 cornfields–one of best setups for a camera–gonna be a 9-pointer.

good spartan compressed

Martin sent this top-quality image from his Spartan camera. I have begun using these cameras exclusively this summer, and am impressed, especially with the Spartan Go Cam (powered by Verizon in my case) which sends images to an app on my phone. Look for these cameras and images on BIG DEER TV.

spartan big VA buck

From one of my Spartan cameras in a secret spot, see if you can make out that buck coming in from 12 o’clock. He looks and acts like an old deer.

MI big 8

Longtime blogger Scott has his eye, and camera, on a nice 8 with great brows.

zach 10 pt

My friends Zach and Ellie have only pulled one card so far, but they are seeing some great bucks, including this pretty 10.

Setting up to be a good year from what I’m seeing! Send me you cam pictures to post, I’ll never give away your location. Your secret buck is safe with me.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Whitetail Fun: 10,000 Trail-Cam Pictures, 30 Bucks!

MD bachelor bucks 2017 1

I have been swapping emails with one of our bloggers who has a very unique situation going on with his local whitetail herd. So unusual that even super deer biologist Grant Woods is impressed.

From our hunter, who has 2 cameras out:

I got more than 5,000 pictures in the month of June alone and most of them were bucks. This leads me to believe that our property is the summer home for the majority of the bucks in the area.

There are easily over 30 different bucks that I am getting pictures of every day. I only have 2 cameras up, and they are only 250 yards apart. I checked them again recently, and one camera had another 1,066 pictures and the other camera had 3,227 pictures since July 1. 

I clarify that all of the bucks aren’t in one big group. They are typically in groups of 3-6 bucks. But there are just so many small bachelor groups.

I know it’s normal for bucks to form bachelor groups in the summer, but is it normal for this many bucks to stick together in a 30-acre spot?  The property is larger, but they stay in this 30-acre area all summer, every summer.

Thirty bucks in 30 acres is unusual, so I ran it by Grant Woods to see if he’d heard of a similar situation:

This all sounds normal, except for the number of bucks.  Is there a habitat feature in or near the 30 acres that’s unique for the area?  Maybe a water source, reason bugs aren’t as bad in this area, less disturbance from two or four-legged predators compared to other areas?

There’s some reason the bucks are spending a lot of time in this area.  Bucks almost always disperse about the time they shed velvet. During past years have you noticed most of these bucks using a different portion of their range?  Do the dominant bucks continue using this area?  If so, that’s a great sign that there’s a limited resource there that bucks need year round like a natural mineral lick, etc.

If only bucks would act like that during hunting season!—Grant

Grant’s observations spurred thought in our blogger/hunter, who emailed me back:

It just dawned on me a possible reason for so many more bucks this year. It might not be that much of a phenomena and more that they were pushed to find a new home.  

There is a place about 1 mile away from our property where they recently bulldozed all of the woods, put up a tall fence and have been blasting away on the construction site.  I bet that is what has pushed more deer onto our land this summer.  They lost their bedding area.

By the way, I think the number one reason that bucks congregate here in the 30 acres every summer is that they are protected.  It is basically a sanctuary.  They have thick cover, plenty of food and there is a stream.  Our property butts against a place that doesn’t allow hunting or trespassing.  And that property butts against the interstate so there is no access at all from that side. 

If you were to look at a topo map you would see several hundred acres of farm fields and then a 30-40 acre patch of thick woods that butts up to the interstate.  This is their summer sanctuary.  The only humans they might see the entire summer are either the farmers or me checking my cameras. That would be the only thing about our property that is different from the surrounding area. The bucks  are undisturbed.

And, yes, Mr. Woods is correct.  Every year around mid-September, once the velvet comes off, the bucks disperse. And, no, the dominant bucks never stick around.  We are generally always left with a handful of smaller bucks. But maybe with the change in habitat, one the bigger bucks will stay on our land this fall, I hope so.

Fascinating story. And I’ve written and blogged many times over the years that what goes on lands surrounding where you hunt is just as important as what is happening on your land. I wrote this in an Outdoor Life article on summer scouting one time:

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in scouting your land that you neglect the adjacent properties. That’s a mistake because what happens across the fences dictates 50 percent or more of the deer movements in your area. Maybe a new crop of soybeans was planted a mile away, or new construction has leveled a big chunk of woods. Many things on adjacent lands can change the deer patterns from year to year, and you need to know that…

MD dan

Finally, our blogger asks: This is one of the bigger bucks I have on camera. Do you think those brows are going to split?  I hope so.

Yes, I see a big split brow (both sides!), hope he hangs around your spot in September bow season. Good luck.

It’s Official: Bass Pro Shops Buys Cabela’s

cabelas store maine

Fox business reports that the merger of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s (CAB) has received the go-ahead from antitrust regulators. In a filing with the SEC, Cabela’s said Wednesday the Federal Trade Commission informed the company earlier this week that it concluded its investigation of Bass Pro’s $4.2 billion buyout. Cabela’s shareholders will vote on the deal July 11. The transaction is expected to close later this summer.

We all knew this was coming… So now, what does it mean for your favorite outdoor company and store, which for readers of BIG DEER is definitely Cabela’s?

There will be changes, anytime a sale goes through that happens. But I believe Bass Pro’s Johnny Morris, who said last year, ““We look forward to continuing to celebrate and grow the Cabela’s brand alongside Bass Pro Shops…as one unified outdoor family.

“I have enormous admiration for Cabela’s and the remarkable brand and business they have built. Cabela’s is a great American success story.”

As of now, the plan is to keep the Cabela’s headquarters in Sidney, Nebraska, and it is business as usual for all Bass Pro and Cabela’s stores. Bass Pro Shops has some 99 stores and employs about 20,000 people. Cabela’s has 19,000 employees and 85 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

A little bird in the industry told me that the new strategic plan is to build upon the incredibly strong hunting brand and market that Cabela’s has built, while their fishing and boat presence will be contracted. Bass Pro Shops will still have a hunting presence, but will carry on and continue to grow with its massive fishing and boating business.

We will have to wait and see, but that makes perfect sense to me.