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  • Writer's pictureGreg Kazmierski

Tips for Effective Summer Trail Camera Strategies

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

Introduction


As avid deer hunters, trail cameras become another tool in the belt, used for gathering valuable information about deer movement and behavior. As the heat rolls in and the bucks racks seem to grow by the day, it's a great time to start gathering intel for the upcoming season.


A solid summer trail camera strategy can provide you with the information needed to gather an inventory of the bucks and other deer on your property, and maybe even tip you off on the tendencies of your target buck, increasing your chances of a run in with him on opening day.


Now let's take a look at some of the best locations to place trail cameras during the summer months, both in low-impact and high-impact areas.

whitetail buck trail cam picture

Where Should I Place My Trail Cameras in the Summer?


Making sure you get the most out of your summer cameras by choosing the right location is an important first step. Taking stock of your trail camera arsenal and putting in some time scouting maps can help you determine where to place cameras. Here is a good example of trail camera setups across a property in farm country.

OnX Trail Camera Layout

By taking into account the number of trail cameras you have access to and how much ground you need to cover, you can start to narrow things down and hopefully start to key in on travel patterns.


hanging trail camera

As we get into the specific locations for your trail cameras, you'll notice the locations split into low-impact areas and high-impact areas.

Low-impact areas are zones throughout your hunting area the deer herd is more likely to tolerate human activity and you have a better chance of getting away with swapping sd cards with little impact.


Whereas the high-impact areas are more intrusive, and each time you enter into the area there is a greater likelihood of altering the otherwise consistent summer patterns. These zones can be better suited for cell cameras, where you can set it and forget it.


Low-Impact Areas


Food Plots


A food plot planted with a green food source can often provide some of the best photos throughout the summer. Destination food sources in a low stress environment can provide you with consistent photos of bucks and other deer on your property.


They can also be a great place to start the search for mature bucks. While their appearances may be a little more sporadic, you may find an opportunity to develop a consistency in photos with something specific like wind direction, moon phase, or weather pattern.


Agricultural Fields


The presence of summer crops can be twofold, as they not only provide good trail camera opportunities, but present a great chance to glass those bachelor groups from a safe distance.


By putting in a little extra work beforehand and spending some time glassing, you can narrow down entry points into the field and find optimal trail cam locations on field edges.



Mineral Sites


Like the destination food sources talked about above, a mineral site can be a great spot for trail cameras because of the frequency deer will visit in the spring and summer months.


As you continue to add cameras to destination type areas for deer, you may begin to notice a cycle of movement throughout your area that can allow you to further develop effective trail camera strategies.

mineral lick trail camera photo

Water holes


No summer trail camera strategy is complete without a prime water hole location. When those hot summer days are paired with a string of dry weather, water can become scarce meaning if you have it, you will have the deer activity.


Ensuring proper setup of your water holes is key in consistent deer activity throughout the summer. These locations can play a big role in your overall whitetail habitat plan, so be sure to understand there is more to it than buying a bucket and hanging a camera.

big buck on water hole

High-Impact Areas


For those who are looking for a little more intel out of a camera set, diving into high-impact areas may be the ticket to tagging a mature buck this fall. Tread lightly, as there is a risk-reward trade off when it comes to these camera sets.


Staging Areas


Staging areas are where deer meander and browse between bedding areas and primary food sources. A safe zone that deer often like to spend the last bit of shooting hours once season opens, protected by the cover before stepping out in the open making themselves vulnerable.


These zones come in all different shapes and sizes. On a well-managed piece of private land, this could be oak flats trailing the low corner of a bean field. On public land accompanied with lots of hunting pressure, staging areas can be a thick briar patch that hold deer until well after the sun goes down.


Your best bet when hanging a camera near a staging area is to find defined entry and exit trails and hang it on a tree the deer won't likely notice. If you are limited on cell cameras, this can be the perfect spot as these staging areas can be great stand locations as bow season opens.

staging area whitetail deer

Travel Routes


Travel routes or travel corridors are great supplement locations when paired with a destination food source to really start to narrow down how and when a certain buck is working his way through the landscape.

This is another area you want to spend as little time as possible, as the more comfortable a deer, especially those older bucks feel, the more often they use it to get to their desired destination. These are also great places to utilize video mode on your cameras to combat any missed action from a delay in picture mode!

travel route camera photos

Pinch Points


Piggy backing off travel routes, pinch points are another high-odds, high-impact location to collect information about the deer on your property. Pinch points are places where the topography and/or vegetation narrow down the reasonable area for a deer to travel.


Odds are these areas will see more deer, more often. When hanging my camera in a pinch point location, I like to hang it on a tree that I can access without walking across where the deer walk.


How Often Should You Check Trail Cameras in the Summer?


When it comes to how often you should check cameras on your hunting property, it's better to lean on the side of caution and let them sit rather than check them too frequently.


If you start spending more time in the woods checking cameras, you have a greater likelihood of bumping deer and making them feel uncomfortable in an otherwise safe environment.


While the information provided is useful, it's not worth blowing all of the bucks off your property well before hunting season even begins.


The introduction of cell cameras has completely changed how the vast majority of hunters approach their strategy. This low-impact method limits the amount of time needed to hang and check cameras, providing more flexibility and greater intel.


Using Summer Trail Cams to Improve Your Hunting Season


Strategic placement of trail cameras during the summer months provides a wealth of information. This information can prove to be invaluable as the seasons start to change and bucks begin to shift their behavior.


Use the photos to understand how the deer are using your property and begin to anticipate how they will use it come fall. Taking note of the fact that there will be a change in deer movement is nearly as important as the change itself.


Anticipating this change will put you in a position to hunt the deer where they will be tomorrow, not where they were yesterday.

trail camera buck archery season

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