Game Cameras: Yes Or No?

Robert Hoague
Webmaster Bowhunting.Net

What’s to learn from using game cameras?

Every year I want to learn more about the area where I bowhunt deer. I want to learn more about the deer too; where they are, where they are not, do they look healthy, is there a mixture of fawns, does and bucks and are there any mature bucks (and where are they)?

I spend lots of time watching, glassing and taking pictures of deer and that teaches me a lot. That said, it has a down side, I have to be out there with them to get it done. So, for years I’ve used game cameras to watch areas for me. So let me use a real life example to show you how a game camera is giving me help in an area I call Grapevine Hill.

The Grapevine Hill area is a narrow strip of woods on a hill between an 80 acre cow pasture and a 200 acre field of farm crops (oats, corn or winter wheat) which is bordered by a river. Deer regularly use this wooded strip. They travel through it, they bed down in the thicker parts of it, they drink there when the creek in it has water in it.

Wild Grapes grow on the eastern edge of the hill in August, September and October. And deer love wild grapes. There is another interesting aspect of this area, it is a rutting hot spot. But I’ll talk about later.

Let’s take a look at my notes from a previous year at Grapevine Hill.

Scouting Notes From Grapevine Hill: Bucks still have some antler growing time left in August; inparticular, longer main beams, increased tine length, lengthier stickers and possibly a new point or a  crab claw point. One thing for sure, the bucks that are going to have a big racks in October and November  already have an impressive rack in August.  They have the width they’ll have this year and, with very few exceptions, the number of points.

To me, this time of the year is super exciting and every chance I get,  I take deer pictures. Also I use several SpyPoint cameras to take pictures of trails, crossings, ridges, fence lines and other places where I might get pictures of this years deer, with an eye out for the big boys of our area.

Monday I picked up the SpyPoint camera at a new, potential stand site I’m calling the Grapevine Hill. Here is the layout. I’m in a narrow strip of woods running East and West with a 90 acre field to the North and planted field to the South (that currently has cut corn and will soon be planted in oats). A barbed wire fence borders the 90 acre field and the woods (which are only 80 to 100 yards wide).

Earlier in the year, I  walked the fence and saw a new, very big, crossing under the fence. So I put a camera there on August 1. And that proved to be a good thing, buck wise.

Here are the Highlights…

There were over 100 doe pictures and most of them were along the trail in this picture. This tells us that the basic deer travel pattern is from deer coming out of, or going to, the 80 acre acre cow pasture. And ditto for the nearby farm crops field. There are also three cross trails in this narrow strip of woods (20 to 25 yards wide).

I got the SpyPoint camera too close to the first trail there were a couple dozen close up pics that consisted of deer body parts. Here’s a young buck that was in several pictures.

This is the same young buck two days later. Note that when I picked up the camera I noticed there were plenty of new grapes growing on the many grapevines in this area.

Ok, here we go. On the right we have a buck with a nice rack. His belly is bulging a little. The deer to the left is a few yards closer to the camera but it is a buck too.

Here is another night time picture of a different buck (the antlers are a little bit different than the previous buck).

And now we’re talking. For starters, this buck is in the area during daylight, which iI think you will agree is always a good thing. It’s early morning. And this buck has a nice 9-point rack that has a kicker on his left second tine. It is possible, in this pic, that he could have an additional point on the right main beam that is blocked by the camera angle.

After I picked up the SD card from the camera I moved the camera down the cross trail about 25 yards. At that time I didn’t know that this buck was hanging around here; but after seeing this series of pictures, if I don’t pick him up where I moved the camera, I’ll bring the camera back here.

Things are looking sweet on at Grapevine Hill.