Scouting Deer in the Early Season
A trail camera is probably the single best advancement for preseason scouting for whitetails. Most of the time trail cameras are used at food sources to get pictures of deer. One way that game cameras may be under-utilized for preseason deer scouting is neglecting the time lapse feature on your trail camera. By placing the camera in a destination food plot, instead of disturbing the field or sitting for hours with binoculars, set the time lapse to take a photo every minute. If you want to know when the deer move into the field, set the timer to take pictures every minute for a set amount of time. By mounting the camera on a stake in the field, you can get a good wide-angle shot of where the deer are coming into the field. Be sure there is plenty of space on your memory card. You can adjust your timing and angle until you get shots of the deer’s entry point.
Once you determine the entry point, you can set up a camera on the tree line at that access point. If they’re coming out at daylight, that’s the spot to set up your tree stand. If they're not coming out at daylight, back the camera up about 150 yards. Ideally, you’ll have more than one camera, so you can have a camera at the access point and back in the woods. A lot of times deer will stage their entrance into the field, waiting about 15 to 20 minutes until dark to enter the food plot. By backing up your set up into the woods, you give yourself a little more daylight to take a deer.
The way you set your trail camera up is important as well. You don’t want to place it perpendicular to the trail; you want to be able to see down the trail. If you put it a little higher than you normally would, you can see a little further down the trail. Set the camera to take photos in bursts to eliminate the chance of missing a photo of a good buck that may be following closely behind a doe. And when you select a location for your trail camera, be sure there’s a good tree nearby for hanging a tree stand.
For some basic steps on how to get good pictures from your game camera, watch these tips on how to use a game camera.
Deer Feeding Patterns | Transitioning from Food Plots to Acorns
When the deer seem to disappear from your food plots or you aren’t seeing quality deer in your fields, they’ve mostly likely transitioned from agriculture food sources to acorns. At this time in the season, move back into the woods towards the bedding area, and start looking for big white oak trees. If you see acorns on the ground or look up and see bunches of acorns in the trees, set up a trail camera there. Odds are you’ll see more deer there. Refocus your deer scouting to big oaks.