What to Do on Your Hunting Lands Before Deer Season Starts
Day 5: Have Healthier Deer and More Quality Habitat by Using Trail Cameras
Editor’s Note: For the most success in the upcoming fall deer season, you need to take some time to plan now. By taking steps now, you’ll have better deer hunting in the future, a more-bountiful deer herd and improved turkey hunting.
How many does did you take off your property this past season? What’s your hunting land’s buck-to-doe ratio? Do you have any bucks on that hunting property that will score 150 points or better on Boone & Crockett? Motion-sensor cameras can give you the answers to these questions and help you provide more habitat for healthier deer. “I first began using motion-sensor cameras to inventory the deer on my property some years ago,” says David Hale, co-founder of Knight and Hale Game Calls in Cadiz, Kentucky. “I found that hunters spent hundreds of hours hunting their property for non-existent trophy bucks. But motion-sensor cameras can help to determine if a piece of property contains the size of bucks I’m looking for before I ever hunt that land.” Besides learning if you have a trophy buck on your hunting-club’s property, you can use motion-sensor cameras to inventory your deer herd after the season to learn what bucks you’ll have to hunt the following season.
Brian Murphy, a wildlife biologist and the executive director of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), also believes in the value of motion-sensor cameras. “After hunting season ends, you can use motion-sensor cameras and timed deer feeders to accurately monitor all the does and the bucks on your property. Research has shown that you can photograph 95% of the bucks and the does on your hunting property within a 7- to a 10-day period, if you’ll put feeders and cameras out in the summer months. To take an accurate census, you’ll need a feeder and a motion-sensor camera for every 100 acres of property you want to survey. If you hunt 1,000 acres, you’ll need 10 cameras and 10 feeders. This number of cameras and feeders will produce a census that’s 80% to 90% accurate in indicating the number of different bucks living on your property.” Many hunters use attractants like the C’Mere Deer products near their motion-sensor cameras to aid them in getting an accurate count.
Motion-sensor cameras also will allow you to keep up with the movement of deer on your hunting-club land throughout the year. Bucks alter their feeding and moving habits, based on a wide variety of environmental factors, including the availability of food sources, habitat changes due to fire or timber harvest, disturbances like increased hunting pressure, bad weather and even moon phases. Today’s motion-sensor cameras can tell you what time of day or night a buck’s moving and alert you to when he changes his movement patterns. By moving your cameras, you also can find out where a buck’s going, and what he’s doing.
When a biologist presents the recommendation for the number of does club members need to harvest from a property, generally the camp will divide into two groups. From one group, you’ll hear, “I think we’re taking too many does as it is. We’re not seeing nearly as many deer as we once have. I don’t think we need to take the recommended number of does we’ve been told to harvest.” The other group will say, “I think we should shoot every doe we see. The more does we take off the land, the more bucks the land will support. I’m tired of seeing does; I want to see more bucks.” A hunting club can solve this problem easily and bring these two divided groups of hunters back together by simply setting-up motion-sensor cameras around timed feeders on the hunting club’s lands before the season begins to get a fairly-accurate survey of the buck-to-doe ratio. Count the number of does and bucks in the photos. You’ll have visual evidence to help authenticate the recommendation either for or against the doe harvest on your hunting-club property.
Upon the introduction of motion-sensor cameras to the deer-hunting market, we primarily saw them as spies to tell when and where big bucks moved to enable us to know where to place our tree stands. You still can use motion-sensor cameras effectively for this purpose; however, outdoorsmen have learned that they can use these cameras even more productively as deer-management tools, not just hunting aids. The more we learn about the deer that live on our hunting-club property, the better we can manage our herds and the better health they’ll enjoy. We can learn the number of bucks and does in the herd, the size of bucks we’ll have to hunt and the places where the bucks and the does prefer to go to feed and to move. This knowledge can lead to the production of more and bigger bucks on the lands we hunt.
To learn more about C’Mere Deer products, visit www.cmeredeer.com