As I’m sure you know by now, either through research, word of mouth, or personal experience, the pre-rut for whitetail deer is a time of intense activity. Bucks are busy making scrapes and rubs to mark their territory in addition to actively seeking a mate.
This is also a time when bucks are feeding heavily in preparation for the demands of the breeding cycle and, later, the coming winter weather. During the rut, a dominant buck can lose as much as 25% of its body weight since he is focused on breeding instead of feeding. At this period, he is most vulnerable.
Because of this activity, it is beneficial to check your scouting cameras often. If you find that one is not producing the number of images that were expected, don’t hesitate to re-deploy it. In seeking the opportunity to harvest a big buck, timely information is essential.
Once you’ve captured an image of the buck you’ve been hoping for, hunt the areas as soon as possible. A delay could easily result in a missed opportunity.
Some hunters, contrary to conventional wisdom, like to hunt these spots both morning and evening for several consecutive days. Your cameras will seldom show the same buck passing by daily, but, if you’ve seen him once or twice, you know he’s in the area. The odds are that if he was there once, he will return. Knowing he’s been there may give you the patience necessary for a successful harvest.
Recommendations for placement during pre-rut should include flash cameras on trails and funnels with delays set at one minute or less. Infrared cameras should be placed on food sources with one to 30 minute delays. Cameras, either flash or infrared should focus on rubs and scrapes and be set for one to two minute delays.
A good trail camera is an excellent tool for scouting deer. It provides data 24 hours a day, 365 days per year with minimal human intrusion into the deer’s habitat. It can record images at night when deer are generally more active.
And, through the use of multiple cameras, you have a record of what is happening in various locations throughout your hunting area. Having the newest and best equipment in the world will be useless if you are hunting in the wrong location. Information from your trail camera can ensure that you are in the most productive locations.