Why use a Scouting camera?

 Satisfy your curiosity

When I purchased my first hunting property I had no idea of the size or quantity of the game living there.  With my first roll of film (yes, I did say film - digital scouting cameras weren't available back then) I got pic's of a couple of deer and some turkey. Nothing big, but the trail camera pictures kept me motivated.

 

Discover Rare Animals

It was my second roll of film, however, that got me hooked for life.  I was standing at the one-hour photo counter anxiously thumbing through pictures of turkey and small does and then I see this series of pictures:




 

I live in Southwest Missouri and there aren't supposed to be any bears.  I've had three and I can prove it because I owned a scouting camera.  The other bear was quite a bit smaller, but I caught it on my video scouting system which made for some cool footage.

 

Measure Food Plot & Feeder Success

One of the first things most people do when setting up their land is to put out some kind of bait to attract game.  Unless you have a scouting camera you'll never know what animals are coming in, and which food they like best.  Like everyone, I put out a feeder filled with corn.  A couple of rolls of film later I realized the squirrels were the largest beneficiary of that action.  However, what really amazed me was the footage I got after planting some Imperial Whitetail Clover.  I have hours of footage of both deer and turkey walking right past fresh corn on the ground to eat clover.  The deer I can understand, but I never imagined the clover would be so effective on turkey.  I have since increased my investment in food plots and relegated the feeders to mid-winter use only.

 

Track Specific Animals

I'm a bow hunter.  Just about every year I pass on a nice buck hoping he'll be a trophy the next year.  Some years I see trophy bucks but never get a shot.  In both cases I'm always anxious to review my photos after gun season to see if those bucks survived.  Usually the photos give me inspiration to scout hard the next season because I can prove there's a good buck out there.

 

Pattern Game Behavior

Each year I learn a little more about how animals in my area react at different times of the year.  Even though bow season is opening earlier and earlier every year, most people don't start hunting until it cools off and gets closer to the rut.  If I didn't have trail cameras and followed this same strategy, I'd think there wasn't a buck anywhere near my property.  On my particular piece of ground the bucks roam around freely in bachelor groups well into September(Check out the 3 velvet bucks clip).  However, they almost disappear come October.  Because I have scouting cameras I now know my best chance for a good buck is to ambush one of those bachelor groups early in the season.

 

Learn how to manage your property 

The single biggest property management blunder I ever made happened a couple of years ago.  After harvesting a doe I thought it would be a neat experiment to leave a large section of the carcass next to the gut pile with a camera set up overlooking it.  I anticipated capturing pictures of some interesting predators.  Immediately that night a coyote arrived.  However, later the next day things went terribly wrong.  The first of many dogs showed up.
 

 

 
Dogs are smart and it didn't take long before they started stalking my feeders.  I was reminded of my stupidity  every time I checked my cameras and saw pictures of dogs that had never been on my property until I left that carcass.  To add insult to injury I even captured pictures of deer with bite wounds on their hind legs.  Eventually the deer went completely nocturnal and sightings decreased by 75%.  It took a long time to eliminate my dog problem and my deer sightings are still no where near where they used to be.  Trust me, I will never leave a gut pile or any other piece of animal on my property again.  However, if I hadn't been using scouting cameras I might still be leaving the remains of harvested animals on my property. 

 

Buck to Doe Ratios

One of the hot topics in recent years has been the harvesting of does to maintain proper herd ratios.  Without scouting cameras you really have no idea where to start. 

 

Trespassers

This topic is pretty self-explanatory.  I have to mention that using scouting cameras for this purpose was useless until the advent of infrared units.  With today's camoflauged infrared units it's possible to place a camera at the entrance to your property without a tresspasser ever seeing it.

 

Trophies

Finally, it's pretty common these days for the pictures captured by scouting cameras to be more than just a means to an end.  Sometimes the pictures themselves are the trophies we're after.  I know I've gotten more satisfaction out of developing my land than I ever had from harvesting a single animal.  The pictures are the rewards for all the hard work I do leading up to each season.