Why You Need a Winter Trail Camera Survey
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Most states’ deer seasons have come to a close, and many hunters have started to store the bow, gun, and camo away for the dark cold winter. Maybe the thought of cleaning your truck has even crossed your mind…OK we’ll stay realistic. Though your mind may be still caught drifting toward the visions of big bucks chasing does, successful harvests, and unforgettable misses from the season that just ended; next season’s prep work is staring you in the face. Though you may not realize it, the clock is ticking to survey the bucks that made it through the season.
Why? Well without breaking into the antler growth and casting cycle, the fact is bucks in most areas of the country will not be holding onto those antlers much longer. In some areas the shed season is well under way, and although shed hunting is a great chance to get out and lay hands on those antlers you have been watching via trail camera all season. The odds of finding a single antler, let alone the match set, are rare. Consider that even now, when the rut has long since ended in many areas, a mature buck’s home range can easily cover 700–1000 acres…that’s a lot of ground to cover! So what option do you have?
A winter trail camera survey or sampling is a great place to start. Whether you choose to do an all out survey looking at density, buck to doe ratio, and fawn recruitment; or just a run and gun sample to see what bucks made it through and the condition they are in will be a huge step toward a successful 2014–15 deer season. You can only kill a mature buck next year that exists somewhere in your area this year!
So how do you get started? At this time of the year, quality food is a rarity, let alone something they love. State laws permitting, placing out a 50 lbs bag of shelled corn in front of a camera is sure to bring in deer. If you are
surveying a camera density of 1 per 100–200 acres will give you a great estimate of the deer still out there. If you are just looking to see bucks that made it through, a little denser (1 camera per 75–125 acres) will be best.
Look for signs of extreme wear on your bucks, and not just in the form of battle scars. Bucks rarely think about themselves during the rut and often by the time they snap out of the estrus-induced haze, many food sources are non-existent. In the North, this means facing the harsh winter we are experiencing this year in rough shape. Unfortunately, in these situations just because he made it through hunting season, does not mean he will make it through the winter.
Make sure that you have quality trail cameras out, like those from Covert Scouting Cameras, with full battery as this cold will often zap the battery life of a camera. There is nothing worse than walking out to a week old camera only to find it died 5 days before!
Originally published at www.buckadvisor.com on January 25, 2014.