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Obsessed with bowhunting whitetails and running trail cams! Love fishing, 3D Archery, camping, and teaching hunter education. Been a member of the Mossy Oak ProStaff since 2008 and is excited to become a part of the team here at Victory Outdoors.

Trail Camera Woes

TCW_Page_01I’ve been running trail cameras for about nine years, and I would consider my addiction to have become serious about five years ago. By serious, I mean I have at least one camera out all year.  I run cameras for deer and turkey, but also for predators, and surveillance, and just plain fun. I mostly run cameras on known trails, pinch points, scrapes, and the like. I don’t really run large mineral sites, mainly because I don’t have enough ground to hunt where I feel it wouldn’t fall under the definition of baiting under Iowa law.

TCW_Page_02This year has been a tough one for me. My carcass cam through the winter was unbelievable. The spring started off looking promising with the early fawn pics and the start of velvet growth.  I wasn’t getting very many pictures of bucks with potential, but the ones I was getting were solid animals. Everything was going as planned. Then it started to rain.



I knew the water could possibly come up around the trees my cameras were in, but it had never gotten so high that the cameras would be under water. I watched the river forecast like a hawk, and decided I’d better make a quick run after work one night to move them to higher ground. Better safe than sorry. The cameras would have been safe through the first wave of flooding, but the subsequent flash flooding would have put the water too close for comfort, so I’m very happy I decided to pull them out of the river bottom.  The water has been back within the river bank for weeks now, but the deer have not returned to the normal summer patterns of using the bottom as a main travel hub.

TCW_Page_13I decided early this season I was only going to run cameras along the edges of the timber and in areas I could access easily and remain reasonably undetected. This was a different strategy than I’ve used in the past. Usually I run them up on the main ridge of the property where we do quite a bit of hunting. I don’t regret letting the main timber rest all summer, but I think not having cameras in there has put me in a tough spot. We’re into the late part of August, and I don’t have any idea what deer are roaming the property. I’ve still been getting good, scenic pictures, they just don’t have any bucks in them. I also have enough pictures of a certain raccoon family to run a special on public television about their lives.

TCW_Page_06Now that it’s getting late in the growth season and the bucks will start shedding velvet soon, I decided to change my strategy going forward. I still have one camera along the river, watching an edge where the timber and a cornfield and the river all intersect. It has been a great travel area for bucks in the past, and I hope it continues to be a main travel route for them. Another camera was moved to a perennial scrape that is very well used and draws bucks in all through October and into November. I know it’s a bit early for a camera on a scrape, but at this point, I’m going with what has done well in the past. I also put a camera on the ridgeline above the river. This has always been a spot where the deer can travel while feeling safe and they can look down over the bottom and scent check the draws for does.

TCW_Page_11Hopefully in two weeks when I pull cards, I will get a better idea of what is calling this property home. For now, all I can think about is the upcoming season and how the mystery will unfold.







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