Treesh IN buck summer 2008A lot of hunters have had their cameras out for weeks or months, but right now is when I like to start my annual big-buck recon in earnest. In mid-July the bucks’ velvet antlers are well up and growing full bore; if you see or get an image of a big one, you’ll immediately know it. The bucks haven’t been hunted, or even disturbed by a man in their woods, for 7 months, so they are laid back and “camera ready.”

It’s just like hunting. The first time you sit in a tree stand—or the first time you set a cam—is the best time to shoot a big deer, or get an image of a giant like the one pictured here.

Saturday my friend Jack and I hung a Plotwatcher Pro time-lapse video camera on a one-acre alfalfa plot hidden back in the timber. We moved on and set 5 more cameras on other plots but not looking into them. Rather, we set these cams 20 to 40 yards back in the cover that rimmed the edges, over old mineral licks and/or near well-used deer trails. Secluded, thick pockets and bottlenecks like this are where you’re apt to get your first images of a big velvet buck working the area.

One more tip. Say you spot a shooter in a field or plot and/or get some images of him, and say there’s a riverbed or creek within a half-mile or so. Sneak into that water source and set a secondary camera or two on a deer trail with fresh tracks. As summer deepens, mature bucks spend a lot of time hanging out near cool, running water. Even in this summer of rain they will do it, because it is shady and a jungle of cover in there. If you get lucky and set your cams in the right spot, you can find out not only where the big deer is feeding , but also where he’s bedding by the water.

Send me your cam pictures to post.