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I know this may seem like a dumb question to some but I am hoping to gain some knowledge on how YOU use trail cameras to actually improve your hunting? I have used them on and off a few times but they always seemed like nothing more than entertainment and a way to get pictures of the deer in your area. I guess I would just like to know what methods you use to actually improve your chance of killing that buck you get a picture of.
 

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If you know how to use them, they can definitely help you kill the buck you're after. It can tell you what bucks to go after and the areas they like to frequent.
 

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Lets say you find a nice trail crossing. Would you like to put the effort into hanging a stand and trimming lanes and sitting there 3, 4 or 5 times only to find out it's used 90% of the time at night. Or would you rather use a camera and not put in a couple hours of work I tell you the same thingy
 

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The biggest advantage Cameras give you is keeping you motivated. For me it is about a 2.5 hr drive to get to our property. Seeing pictures of wildlife keeps my energy up and makes it easier to bust your butt to scout new areas and spend time sitting in a tree. Are you going to always catch monsters on your camera? No. Are you going to see deer that you will never see on stand? Probably. For me that is not discouraging. Sometimes you can narrow your focus on a specific deer or area and sometimes they just give you an idea of what deer have your property in their home range. A camera is not going to guarantee any type of success.
 

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There are both advantages and disadvantages of using trail cams. I feel the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages if used properly.

I agree that knowing the specific bucks in your area (and even recognizing the old matriarch does that typically seek out a mature buck to breed them) are big assets to a hunter and keep the motivation level high. Also as mentioned, why take the time to hang a set on a trail or scrape if it's only used at nite the majority of the time, when you could move that camera a little deeper in and find where trails intersect, a pinch point, and/or a breeding scrape that's more active and set your camera there to get major intel and make a better decision where to hang your stand. Of course here in lies the disadvantage of leaving scent in the area where you place your camera and human activity in general. But doing it at the right time of day and using some common sense and scent control when doing so can definitely help.

I start off early fall with cameras on the outskirts of trails and bedding areas to get a good idea on the deer living in the area and what their pattern is. Then move in deeper as time progresses to get a better idea of bedding or the food/water source they may be using.

More than anything they are just fun to use and keep moral high when seeing bucks you are after show up or make it through a season to get even bigger and more wary.
 

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For me they are off season fun for the whole family to see what is on the property.

I am trying to hold a lot of does on my places and it lets me know if what I am doing is working or not. I have gotten to know what deer actually live on the properties I hunt and what ones travel through. I have a doe with a scar on her knee that has lived at one woods the past seven years raising fawns.
In spring and summer I get a bunch of buck pics and it lets me know what's in the neighborhood and how they are growing but they almost vanish late summer early fall until rut. And it's fun to see the bucks mature from year to year.

Cameras also let you know what time of day the deer are in the area and it has also worked for me in spring on turkeys.
I definitely get some traveling cruising bucks that I have never seen any other time of year stop in during rut..and that is why I like to try and keep does on my places as "buck bait" for rut. Does seem to be more predictable and homebodies way more than bucks.

Also get a bunch of other wildlife pics too..turkeys, fox,eagles, owls, hawks, yotes, mink and bunnies along with thousands of squirrel, bird and **** pics. And usually once or twice a year some scumbag trespasser who is to dumb to stay away from the camera and off my property.
 

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During the summer months, I put the cameras over salt blocks. This is mainly just for an entertainment factor, along with surveying the bucks that are there and recognizing (hopefully) deer from prior seasons. Once September hits, I move the cameras and focus on specific trails and travel corridors. I only get to hunt this property roughly a week out of the season, and I hope to somewhat pattern shootable deer.
 

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I use cameras for 2 specific purposes....

Inventory: I live 2+ hours from the farm I hunt so I can't take off after work every day and sit a half mile away and scope fields to see what bucks are around, what bucks have made it thru the winter, what bucks have moved in to the farm, etc... I use cameras from the late summer thru about february to inventory the buck population. I usually get all the bucks I ever see hunting on my trail cameras sometime during this process... several I don't see while hunting I will have on camera but rarely do I see a buck while hunting that I don't have pictures of. To me, this is invaluable in that I can predetermine a specific buck to target for the season (kansas being a 1 buck state)... I rarely get caught off guard on stand as to what a buck is when I catch sight of one moving thru.

Timing: As someone else said, it doesn't do you any good to setup a stand on a trail or funnel or pinch that gets 90% of it's activity in non-shooting hours. You could "luck" into a buck coming thru but again, I live quite a drive away and I'm trying to maximize my opportunity per time input on stand... 2 years ago I worked this strategy to perfection. Based on several years of trail camera information I knew (with high confidence) that bucks would be active in the staging area I have a stand set on during daylight hours if I we got a cold front to blow thru in December... cold front came thru, dumped snow and I drove up the next morning... showered and in the stand by 2:30p and killed a mature 10pt by 4:30p... he came in with 3 other younger bucks.
 

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Game Cameras are nice to know what is in the area There is a little more to it as other things can effect deer travel & patterns, like hunting pressure in your area, predators, food, sure some do get a chance at a deer or animal they got on a game camera but others just get pictures / videos and never see that deer while hunting and yet others might see one of them. For me it just keeps me waiting for that Good Buck to pass by but hunting pressure is high and deer seem to become nocturnal once September rolls in and I get more night time images than daytime but pattern deer is nice if you are there for a long time but for some we can only get there for a few days and food is another thing that changes deer travel. So if you are in a remote area with few to no hunters maybe you can but I have been using game cameras since they have been 35mm and I just like seeing the big bucks, bears, coyotes, turkeys and this check a Bobcat the first time I got one in a video it just makes me hope for seeing one and maybe getting a shot at a good buck. So far I have only taken one good buck and never got a picture of him a friend did but that is Hunting and not getting here in Michigan. But hunting here is different than Montana or Texas for many reasons especially lack of hunting pressure there as compared to here... It just shows what is there in hopes you get a shot at one of them!

LFM
 
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