I run several trail cameras year-round, but the July 4 holiday is when I start my buck recon in earnest for the new season. Velvet antlers are up and growing full bore. When you get an image of a buck with shooter potential, you’ll know it and can start tracking his movements for the next few months. Here are 3 great spots to set your cameras.

Food Plot Funnels

Next week on one property, we’ll set 2 cameras on 2 small clover plots hidden back in the woods. We’ll set 3 more cams on larger plots, but not aimed out into the clover. Rather, we’ll place these cams 20 to 30 yards back in the green thickets that rim the edges, near deer trails and little cuts and ditches. Secluded, thick pockets and bottlenecks are where you’re apt to get images of a big velvet buck working the plot.

Creek Crossings

I urge you to put a camera on every narrow, muddy creek crossing within a quarter-mile of a clover plot or crop field on your hunt area. If there’s a waterhole or beaver pond nearby, hang a cam there too. As summer deepens, mature bucks hang out in secluded cover near water where it’s cool and shady.

Fence Gaps

On one farm I hunt, a row of trees and brush about 50 yards wide splits 2 large cornfields (the fields might be soybeans or alfalfa where you hunt). Within that shelterbelt is a flat, grassy gap where the farmer drives his tractor between the fields. On an old gate post in the gap is one of my favorite spots to run a camera, while the corn is still tall and uncut.

Over the years, a camera on the gate post has captured many mature bucks on summer movement, a few of which we killed a couple of months later in early archery season. If you can think of a similar gap like this where you hunt, run out there and set a camera.