“Right way” to run cameras?

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Hunter74
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“Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby Hunter74 » Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:45 am

So the other thread about using cameras to target bucks got me thinking on a related topic deserving it’s own thread.

So to put it bluntly I get mad as heck most times I try using cameras! It seems I actually do better locating a buck while shining then track him down as apposed to getting pics of him. This year so far has been a good example, I located several good bucks through summer shining then put out cams to try and gain intel on em. Through August and September I moved the cams around in spots that wouldn’t burn the area yet I thought would get good pics. I never got one pic of any of the bucks I was targeting yet I knew they where still there through sign and shining.

So what I’d like to hear from you guy’s is how to cut down on the camera learning curve. How do you place cameras to specifically get mature bucks on camera without putting them down in bedding or invasive spots? What features are you looking for to set cameras especially if field edges or food sources aren’t an option? How often will you check a camera then move it if it’s not producing the intel your after? How aggressive will you be at getting closer to bedding if the non invasive areas don’t produce anything?

Any thoughts, opinions and experiences are appreciated guys.


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Lockdown
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby Lockdown » Wed Nov 25, 2020 3:31 am

In general my camera placement is very aggressive. I use the intel more for next year to figure out IF a bedding area produces and WHEN it gets hot, rather than using it to kill a buck this year. When set in this fashion I leave them for long periods of time. Sometimes months. During the summer months sometimes I’ll use a cam over a salt block for inventory. In this case I place it away from my kill locations and bedding. Im not worried about the bucks smelling me or seeing my cam.

If I’m using cams to pinpoint a specific buck, I use more cams but less invasively. In many cases there are small sections of trails, or specific intersecting trails, that will shed a lot of light on his movement. For example if there is a “Y” in a trail, I’m going to aim my cam right where they meet in an effort to figure out which direction he came from.

I’m finding that for big bucks, most will do things pretty consistently regarding bedding entry and egress. The drop tine that I’m hunting showed up in a funnel very consistently in the evening just after dark. That’s how I knew he was close. Interestingly, morning pics of him heading back to bed are scarce. I’ve only got one at roughly 2:30 a.m. and that was the day that I laid eyes on him for the first time.

After I winged him and was searching for him, I found a back door access trail to his bedding with his tracks on it. I figured that’s why morning pics heading in to bedding were scarce. He used that instead of the funnel. I had no option to run a cam where he entered the cattails, but I did have a modest terrain funnel several hundred yards away. It would make sense that he’d use it once in a while when coming back to bed from the neighbors. I just swapped that card after 22 days and I have zero pics of him. But the neighbor claims he’s still alive.

Did his pattern change because of rut? Or does he not use that funnel for one reason or another? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I did not have a cam in the other “good” funnel during that time frame but I do as of Sunday.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

My approach to using cameras is similar to the way I hunt. I never set one and say “I’ll just set it here and see what happens.”. Every time I place a cam looking for intel, it’s set in a specific spot for a specific reason. I look for high odds spots like a funnel near bedding or where trails cross that I KNOW are bedding related.

There’s way more to it than putting your cam on a nice trail and checking it two weeks later. The more you run cam the better you will get at it. And don’t be discouraged when your cam turns up nothing. That is important intel as well. Now you know what he DOESN’T do. It’s a puzzle piece.
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phade
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby phade » Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:00 am

I likely use cams more than anyone in this group, but I'll be the first to admit they can hurt as much as help.

I think the thing to avoid is simply checking cams too often in the off or pre-season. Regular cams outside the season get checked 2-3 times over a roughly 9-month period. Once in post season, once in July, and once closer to season start on a final scout/prep mission. I place regular cams in destination food sources, scrapes, point source attractants like an apple tree, and then staging areas just ahead of the food source, and finally trails between that known buck bedding and the food. I will swap cards if walking by that cam on way to hunt.

Cell cams - I probably break every general best practice there is with them. Mostly because if I do it right, I'll set it and forget it for months on end and let it do work. Deer will normalize it (not every deer, but many will). A material number of bucks I've shot are on cell cam that is within sight of a pre-set treestand. I have 40-ish pre-sets, though, so stands don't get overhunted. I really like point source attractants like scrapes or apple trees, and trails leading to and from doe bedding and buck bedding.

People also tend to use cheap cams in spots where you really need them to work. I'll use a cheap cam on a high theft risk spot, but if I'm setting a cam on a known trail to a buck bedding area, it's going to be one I have confidence in.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby A5BLASTER » Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:31 am

The right why for me is too set them up with batteries and sd cards that last long enough, I check them just after the season ends and just before the season begins likening August.

That way I'm not messing with them during season, but I'm also only useing them to tell me what deer made it through the last season and if they are still useing the area.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby Rich M » Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:21 am

Put your cameras over the largest scrapes in the area and let em soak. That'll tell you what and how many bucks.

Everything else is hit or miss - the bucks be din diff spots for diff winds and for diff seasons. How many cams do you want to run?

I use em to confirm deer and then hunt them.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby Woodsy211 » Wed Nov 25, 2020 9:40 am

I usually try not to put the cams right where I plan on setting, but sometimes my curiosity gets the best of me. Some deer definitely catch on immediately and will just stay away from em, others seem not to care. I’ve watched deer from a stand avoid cameras , and once that happens I’d say the chance of getting a pic of said deer are highly unlikely.
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Rob loper
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby Rob loper » Wed Nov 25, 2020 9:41 am

I have been on the camera kick for two seasons now , first season I only had i think 8, A Bust
This pre season I had 18 out. every one of them were busts, A few god pics here and there but my choice of locations were I guess horrible.
I will focus this year placing on known browse areas or main food sources or heavy trails to and from.
I don't feel comfortable placing cameras field edges on our public. they would probably be gone. I actually placed one today in a great funnel along a trail crossing through a funnel away from bedding 200 yards or so. I enjoy the camera game.
Our gun season just got over on this past Sunday so i like to get a few out this week and next on spots i wont hunt til next season.
I am gonna let them soak for 4 months at a time November til after season then change batteries and cards then check June or July and refresh again.
I waited till August this past year but i really think ill check start of mid to end of july.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby Hunter74 » Wed Nov 25, 2020 3:18 pm

So I think I can elaborate a bit in what I’m after with cameras. I have a few pieces of public all in close proximity to each other that I would consider all the same system covering close to a few thousand acres over a couple country blocks, broken up by roads, farmland and private ground. The area consistently grows quite a few big bucks and I know the public pieces inside and out and dozens of bedding areas throughout them. I’ve focused on this area the last few years and want to intimately learn how the deer use it.

The part I’ve struggled with is how and when the bucks are using these pieces and exactly which bedding they use. Typically I get an encounter or 2 by hopping around the bedding areas but quite often they don’t come out of the bedding I’m expecting and I’ve never had an encounter in the same spot over the years.

So what I’m trying to accomplish with cams is another piece to narrow down which bedding area a buck is using. I put the cams in spots I would never sit, usually there in areas that get human intrusion and I’m only expecting nighttime pics but if I get pics hear shortly after dark the bucks gotta be coming from this or that bed, or if it’s later he’s coming from a ways and ext.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby Lockdown » Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:44 pm

Hunter74 wrote:So I think I can elaborate a bit in what I’m after with cameras. I have a few pieces of public all in close proximity to each other that I would consider all the same system covering close to a few thousand acres over a couple country blocks, broken up by roads, farmland and private ground. The area consistently grows quite a few big bucks and I know the public pieces inside and out and dozens of bedding areas throughout them. I’ve focused on this area the last few years and want to intimately learn how the deer use it.

The part I’ve struggled with is how and when the bucks are using these pieces and exactly which bedding they use. Typically I get an encounter or 2 by hopping around the bedding areas but quite often they don’t come out of the bedding I’m expecting and I’ve never had an encounter in the same spot over the years.

So what I’m trying to accomplish with cams is another piece to narrow down which bedding area a buck is using. I put the cams in spots I would never sit, usually there in areas that get human intrusion and I’m only expecting nighttime pics but if I get pics hear shortly after dark the bucks gotta be coming from this or that bed, or if it’s later he’s coming from a ways and ext.


So are you in the game on these bucks at all? Or just not getting them on cam ever?

Sounds like getting a little more aggressive could be beneficial. You can always deploy a cam in an invasive area after a hunt when your scent is in there anyway. Make sure to mount them high. Some bucks hate cams some don’t mind them, but don’t risk it. I never have bucks look up at my cams. I bring a couple climbing sticks and mount them 8-12’ up.

Especially if you’re not after a specific buck this year, I’d place cams invasively and use the intel for next year. Placing them during gun season would be a good time. All heck breaks loose and there’s scent all over anyway.

You need answers and you gotta get them somehow.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby Evanszach7 » Wed Nov 25, 2020 11:59 pm

The part I’ve struggled with is how and when the bucks are using these pieces and exactly which bedding they use. Typically I get an encounter or 2 by hopping around the bedding areas but quite often they don’t come out of the bedding I’m expecting and I’ve never had an encounter in the same spot over the years.

I run a lot of cams spread out on 6 pieces of public and 4 counties. A mix of big woods, farm, and hill country. Each type your hunting plays a big role. Crop rotations, mast crops, new clear cuts, increases in pressure. For a couple years I tried to use cameras in season to target bedding. Too much changes on a week to week basis. Also, cameras probably miss more deer than you think. I've watched a lot of deer skirt cameras intentionally and unintentionally.

With all that said... 95% of my cameras are used for annual data for next season. Knowing that, I set them in July or August for areas that should be hot at some point October-December. Generally very near doe bedding and not on the most beat down trails. Areas with historical buck sign. To narrow down areas more I do a lot of in season scouting, drop a million way points on OnX, and keep a journal of every hunt with notes aging the sign. All that has helped my camera placement for the next season and hunts this season. Killed my buck this year, from using last year's data to know where he probably wasn't, what 2 bedding areas might have been hot, then scouted for 2 hours to get on the right bedding area. Even with the knowledge and scouting, it was roughly my 10th hang and hunt on this piece before connecting. Probably my 30th hang and hunt this year, with that kill being my 4 encounter with a 3+ year old.... still have a lot to learn, but the more I scout and bump deer, the more success I've had. Cameras haven't helped much.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby bigbuckhunter88 » Thu Nov 26, 2020 2:11 am

The two ways I run cameras are deep invasive that don't get checked until after season, and on field edges or easily accessed areas that receives people or atv traffic regularly so that I can check regularly. On public these consist of the access trails that everyone uses and also recreational walkers use. I like to narrow down the bedding area I think the bucks are using and set the camera up on a scrape nearby that has easy access. All the pictures will be night time of bucks, but will usually get a direction of travel to and from and the time will give me a more clues of how far away I think hes coming from and then I will continue to move the cams until I think i have it narrowed down. Also gives a good idea of how much other pressure the deer are receiving.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby blackwidow » Thu Nov 26, 2020 6:48 am

I run them much the same way as bigbuckhunter88. I hunt private only for the most part, so this is how I use them.

Spring and early summer:

Mineral is pretty much it. I will get a pic of any buck worth my time at this point. That is my main goal. It’s all about inventory at this point. And almost every buck I get on camera at this point will be on the property in the fall.

Late summer and early fall:

Exit trails into crop fields. I don’t care what time of day I’m getting the pics. I know the bedding here and I just want to see what bedding they are using. I also don’t care about pic quality and amounts of pics as long as I’m able to find a buck I want.

Late fall/winter:

I will keep some cams on trails and small food sources. It’s somewhat of a free for all with the rut at this point and I’m not concerned with patterning bucks. Into the winter I will hang cams near beds and the food plots to see what deer are around. If I can’t find them I will generally be able to glass them somewhere in these big fields when it gets cold.

The cams on the beds may be placed sometime throughout the rut as well and left to soak into the winter. These deer don’t get enough pressure to push them out if I go to check the cams every great once in awhile near or in the bedding.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby CChunter2 » Thu Nov 26, 2020 2:08 pm

I’m no expert by no means but my camera strategy is run them January to the end of February to see what made it through. Then scout around the areas in march that I had a buck make it that will big the next season. Then I reset cameras in travel areas in June or so. I will check around mid to late august. If the deer is still there I base my hunting off of the March scouting. Basically I’m just using cameras to know he is in the area. This year one deer I killed I got on camera 10-12 times from June to October. The last day being October 7. I killed the deer on November 17 less than 200 yds from the camera. So if I would have based my hunting strictly off the camera I probably would have thought he moved on.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby Hunter74 » Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:14 pm

Lockdown wrote:
Hunter74 wrote:So I think I can elaborate a bit in what I’m after with cameras. I have a few pieces of public all in close proximity to each other that I would consider all the same system covering close to a few thousand acres over a couple country blocks, broken up by roads, farmland and private ground. The area consistently grows quite a few big bucks and I know the public pieces inside and out and dozens of bedding areas throughout them. I’ve focused on this area the last few years and want to intimately learn how the deer use it.

The part I’ve struggled with is how and when the bucks are using these pieces and exactly which bedding they use. Typically I get an encounter or 2 by hopping around the bedding areas but quite often they don’t come out of the bedding I’m expecting and I’ve never had an encounter in the same spot over the years.

So what I’m trying to accomplish with cams is another piece to narrow down which bedding area a buck is using. I put the cams in spots I would never sit, usually there in areas that get human intrusion and I’m only expecting nighttime pics but if I get pics hear shortly after dark the bucks gotta be coming from this or that bed, or if it’s later he’s coming from a ways and ext.


So are you in the game on these bucks at all? Or just not getting them on cam ever?

Sounds like getting a little more aggressive could be beneficial. You can always deploy a cam in an invasive area after a hunt when your scent is in there anyway. Make sure to mount them high. Some bucks hate cams some don’t mind them, but don’t risk it. I never have bucks look up at my cams. I bring a couple climbing sticks and mount them 8-12’ up.

Especially if you’re not after a specific buck this year, I’d place cams invasively and use the intel for next year. Placing them during gun season would be a good time. All heck breaks loose and there’s scent all over anyway.

You need answers and you gotta get them somehow.


I get in the game on some of these bucks by knowing they’re around through shining then working my way around the property and setting on the best bedding or travel routes, usually with an outside in approach, looking at sign and educated guess.

I just never seem to get them on camera and what I’m looking for with the cams is to be able to narrow down the area quicker with less intrusion to get on em. Example, got him on this cam so he’s coming out of the south end so he’s gotta be in bedding A or B I can leave bedding C, D and F alone unless nothing pans out in A or B. Basically just another piece of the puzzle to take a better educated guess on which beds to hit first and up my odds before he’s in a different bedroom or property altogether.

I guess I should add that I believe part of the struggle in these areas is that there’s quite a bit of good bedding with fairly light pressure especially once you get off the higher ground and into the wet and thick stuff. The big guy could be using any one of 6 different bedding area in a 100 acres and by the time I’ve narrowed it down he’s jumped ship for one reason or another.
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Re: “Right way” to run cameras?

Unread postby tim » Sat Nov 28, 2020 7:43 pm

Food source edges, water source,mock scrapes/scrapes. Tells me what’s there . Now do the homework and remember times,time of year, wind direction . They weren’t there by mistake


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