Bucks, Cameras, and Treestands

If you’re like me, you know that killing a mature old Blacktail buck is hands down one of the hardest things you can try to do. Also to do it with a bow, now we’re just putting more odds in his favor.

I learned early on that spot and stalk, as well as still hunting wasn’t going to be the most effective method. I believe I was 18 years old (yes I was just a young buck back then) when I really grasped the task at hand. That particular year I had missed two bucks with my bow that were borderline in reaching the Boone and Crockett record book. My methods were still hunting through brush wish doe urine sprayed all over me. Obviously, I had much to learn. I quickly adapted to the treestand method, and would experience instant success. Beginners luck definitely took a part, as I arrowed a buck in my very first sit in a treestand ever. That little buck and the tree stand had me hooked for life. It would be later on I would fine tune some of my treestand hunting tactics, and the biggest help for me was trailcams.

Trailcam Buck

I knew of an area that held large bucks, so I put two trailcams up. Low and behold, they showed up on my camera. What has changed since now and then, is the number of cameras I play in a specific area. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the buck running down the same trail day after day. So, how could I figure out where he was going, and when he was going there? The answer, more cameras. Instead of putting one or two cameras out in my area, I would put up four or maybe even five. This isn’t friend on your wallet, trust me I know. But what I discovered was that the buck was in fact there way more often than I had thought. By putting more cameras out I could catch him going or leaving my “area”, but he would rarely enter or leave in the same trail or even direction as the night before. Often times he would enter my patch of Oak trees coming from the old growth on the hill, other times he would enter coming from a farm field to the west. Vise versa when he would leave.


Trailcam Buck 2

If I carefully analyzed my pictures, and did some research, I would most likely find out that the wind would directly correlate with the direction of his movements. often times the nights he would appear would be on a stormy windy night, where the wind is doing abnormal things. But I would bet my bow and arrow that he would keep the wind coming into his face while he entered his stomping grounds.

When I compared time footage and dates on the multiple cameras I discovered that in ten days of the cameras being out, he made an appearance on one of those cameras in seven of those days. I like those odds. The thing was, if I only had two of my cameras out there. I might have only seen him on two or three different nights.  

The problem I’ve found with setting my camera on a trail, or where two trails meet is that the bucks don’t always travel down that trail. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely special occasions. I have had a couple special occasions on my cameras, but they didn’t last long. Those occasions would be either in August before the first archery season, or before the rut really picked up and he was running all over the mountain chasing does. Having a daily pattern for big blacktail is just a very rare circumstance.

Another problem I once had, was deer noticing my cameras. Since 90 percent of the bucks on my trailcam were at night, I wasn’t getting super detailed pictures. these bucks were also literally trotting around. If you add all of these variables into taking super quality pictures, it’s going to be tough. So I bought a couple different brands and experimented. I ended up liking the Moultrie, as well as the Stealth Cam the best. These cameras seemed to do the best job at not spooking the deer as well as getting more quality pictures at night. Another thing I did, was set my cameras at a 45 degree angle on the trail, pinch point, or hardine. This put the bucks in my trigger area for a split second longer then if it was looking at the trail from 90 degrees. It also allows me to to keep the scent of myself away from the trail. But if I placed it on a tree beside the trail, looking directly down it, odds are it would be sniffed multiple times be a number of deer.


Another thing I learned, was that it is a good idea to set up a camera directly on a rub. Most of the time, you’re not going to get a sweet picture of a monster buck back at the tree and rubbing again. What you most likely will find, is he will either come back and check it out, or the other bucks in the area will make an appearance and check it out as well.

Maybe you don’t need any help taking pictures of the bruiser your chasing, but if you do, I would encourage you to try this tactic when placing cameras. Spend the extra money, buy two or three more cameras. Surround your areas with cameras, and do your homework. Take it from someone who waited to long to apply this to their own hunting techniques.-Wesley Smith

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Wes Smith - Rookie Outdoors

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