Contributors to this thread:
I’m starting to hate trail cams
I haven’t hunted much this year, time has been limited mainly due to a hectic work schedule but I think there is more to it. I run cameras and I really enjoy seeing what’s out there. This year not so much. I haven’t had any decent bucks on camera and I feel like it’s a waste of time to be hunting when I could be doing more productive things. I have a great property here, good looking food plots and plenty of cover. This year is the first in 10 that I haven’t had a single good buck on cam . I’m in a blind hoping something good shows but I’m sceptical. I’m considering not running cameras next year...getting back to basics.
Grubby, I feel that cams have screwed me over the years in terms of deer numbers. Even if I get no deer on cam I still find fresh droppings just 15-20 yards away from it so they don't catch all. I wouldn't be surprised if you had a good buck just not in front of the cam. If you got does the big ones will be there.
Oh... I’m hoping that’s true! I’m in a blind on a plot that is attracting 15-20 does fawns and yearling bucks nightly....I’d say that something larger is bound to show up soon.
Get back to the basics and hunt for a deer. I never feel like I am wasting my time when I am "deer" hunting.
if you have 15-20 does/fawns showing up nightly, you have bucks around. stick with it. Stay late.
I agree trail cameras ruin hunting.
Trailcameras, crossbows and Obama... They all ruined bowhunting! :)
A yearling 8 pointer just cleared everything out. Very horny!! It’s funny that something that added so much enjoyment is now making it less enjoyable!
But Grubby, don't you know, your cameras don't show you all that's out there? Sounds to me like to you like photography more than hunting. But here is a simple remedy-sell your cameras and go back to hunting and scouting.
Grubby.....I run several cameras every year and I still never got any pics of either one of these guys. They were killed 3 years apart. Just because you don’t get any pics of them, doesn’t mean they ain’t out there. Both of these bucks could have been just cruising through, or they could have been there all along. Keep the faith, besides, what else would you rather be doing!
Since I’m too lazy to to properly learn how to hunt, scout, read sign, etc, etc, I have to rely on my cameras to bring me luck. Just thought I’d mention.
Years ago, I ran several feeders with cameras. I got like you. In my mind, what deer could resist eating corn? And if they were there and had to eat the corn, I should get pictures of them. So if I wasn’t seeing big bucks on camera; my anticipation level when way down and I lost the joy of being out hunting.
Now I still run cameras, but no feed whatsoever. Now I know that getting a deer, no less a big buck on camera is just a pure matter of chance. I have set stands many many times and watched deer all around me that never tripped the camera near by. Now I look forward to each hunt with anticipation once again. Don’t put so much stock in your cameras and just hunt!
If I had twenty does and fawns in front of me, in range, soon there would be nineteen and my hands would be bloody, but that's me. YMMV
I've been having the same thoughts as you Grubby. I just seem less excited to get out there because I don't have a good buck on camera. I'm not going to run them the rest of the season or next year. Good luck!
I agree, I'm putting less cameras out every year. It's not the part about not getting big deer on camera that frustrates me. It's that cameras suck! They've become SO unreliable and I've spent too much time and money on them. Not done, but definitely not concerned with putting any out. Plus, I don't mess with cams during hunting season.
They do tell you when to hunt a buck, if he's there hunt him, but I think it was more fun before I ever used them, not knowing is kinda awesome
You have to realize that where Grubby is located at, there is hardly any crops. No corn, winter wheat, maybe some hay fields with some spackling of alfalfa. Bucks just dont get real big. Not to mention timber wolves. They will make the deer pretty scarce too.
The last time I checked, there were only 2 P&Y bucks entered from that county and I have one of them.
@Grubby - A couple nights ago I talked to my uncle that lives up near Zippel Bay and he said there are plenty of deer up north by the Park and his place but very few down where you are at.
I wouldnt give up on the cameras yet - I think you'll regret that
Basically a separate hobby for me. It's nice to know what the potential high end bucks are roaming around, makes passing on the little guys easier. I have over a million acres of public at my disposal, they make it nice to do informal surveys on different tracts.
If I were one of these deer husbandry guys I think they would just make me go nuts. I know the mature bucks I get are nomadic phantoms and don't get obsessed with any particular buck. Similarly I know each cam I put out isn't capturing all the mature bucks in the area. I still hunt many areas I don't run cams. I just love the thrill of looking through SD cards with a cold ale in hand though. Like trapping without the stinky mess.
It's really quite simple, there are two types of people. Some of us wanted to know the sex of our unborn children with the very first sonogram. Others enjoyed the anticipation of not knowing until that special day.
I love cameras but I know that they see very little and I don't rely on them to hunt. I use them as a small tool but I don't use them as the only tool. I love the pictures and it gives me something to look forward too. Each to there own though. I hunt a lot of public land and that is always about what could happen, not what you know will happen.
Don't forget the one daylight pic you get off a big buck could be on the wall if you were in the stand.
I own one camera and I don't know if it even works. Used to run a few of them but they started to ruin the anticipation.
Too each their own.
Never owned or used one.Kinda rubs crossgrain to my screwed up hunting philosophy.Plus I would be zigging when I should be zagging and have me second guessing my second guesses.
Obviously not too many of you have seen our current feature. If I’m not seeing deer on my cams the only reason is because they are not there.
"Since I’m too lazy to to properly learn how to hunt, scout, read sign, etc, etc, I have to rely on my cameras to bring me luck. Just thought I’d mention."
I knew it !!!!!! ;)
My God!!! Could it be true? Could the real joy of hunting be returning? There is a real and true value to trail cams or whatever you want to call them. They can be an invaluable tool for research. But as they began to proliferate, I saw an immediate decline in one of the most enjoyable aspects of hunting-that being, anticipation of the unknown and the surprise of the unseen. Cameras, combined with feeding, did in fact replace scouting and woodsmanship for a segment of hunters. That, is an undeniable fact, supported by unbiased surveys conducted a couple years ago. That, is also not true of everyone who uses or used cameras. But among young and entry level hunters and those in states where feeding/baiting was legal, it was. I am heartened to see someone besides me recognized the "missing" part was not all with arrows.
I run one camera just for fun. Doesn't play a role in my hunting decisions as I just like to see pics of area deer. In my opinion, it's more fun to try to outsmart deer without using a bunch of cameras to pattern them. Again just my opinion. I like my "survey" style use because it's fun to see what big ones are around. I'm in no way being critical of those who run a bunch of cams, it's just that I feel like that takes some the chance or unknown out of hunting. And I like some suspense when I go out.
Long story short. Summer of 2014 I was baiting in OH and getting pics of several nice bucks with a giant 135" 7 pt as my target buck as he was the biggest by far. Sure enough, opening morning he came in and I shot him. He ran out of sight as the other bucks jumped at the shot watched him run off then went back to sparring/eating. I had a chew and enjoyed the show. A few min later 2 of the sparring bucks both stopped and looked down the hill behind me. There stood the biggest buck I'd ever seen a true Booner. I watched him for 15 min. He skirted the corn /cam. If I knew he was around I would not have shot the big 7. I had a real moral dilemma...I had to watch a 170" buck for 15 min and then watch him walk off...like others have said, just cause you don't have pics, doesn't mean they are not there.
So Brad, I assume that at least 50 percent of lake of the woods counties pope and young entries were killed within 2 miles of my house? I bet I know where the other 50% came from! This is a very tough area to hunt but I disagree with the statement that they don’t get very big. Most don’t get very big simply because most don’t live to see 3 years old. There’s a variety of reasons for that. Every year there is a few whoppers killed during the gun season. Usually at least one in the neighborhood. Believe me, I’d love to arrow one of those does but this is a one deer area and I’m not discouraged enough to end my season yet. I’ll wait until December for that. I know I’m not seeing all the deer and I know every day things will change now. At least I’m seeing deer, last night was fun with the constant action.
I own two cameras and I'm like craig@work, I put them out for enjoyment. I've given up long ago trying to find a good buck to hunt in my area of MN. I can count on one hand the number of P&Y bucks I've seen in my 26 years of bowhunting in MN. I've seen way more in several weeks in other states. MN is the land of great unrealized potential.
I keep a couple out all year in far northern MN. I was checking one last summer and was dive-bombed by a nesting pair of Northern Goshawks. The female got me to hit the ground she was that low. They definitely add excitement to my hunt.
Like Embry, I had some issues with one of them - it got to -40F and it snapped off 5000 pictures before filling up by card or using all the batteries. 5000 pictures of snow lessened my excitement of the hunt.
But, when they work, I get to see deer, moose, bear, fisher, marten, wolves, porcupine and one albino doe that has survived 3 seasons up there. As far as I know, I have never seen any of the same animals while hunting.
I love my cams. The last 5 bucks I've killed I had on cam. I anticipate greatly seeing and killing a buck I know about. And because of the cams, I've killed 2 five year olds that I otherwise would not have killed, as they weren't big-racked and I wouldn't have killed them if I didn't "know" them and know they were older deer.
The cams have also saved a couple buck lives of younger big bucks that I otherwise would have probably killed if I didn't "know" the buck. One of those paid off big, as I passed him at 2 1/2, and killed him at 4 1/2 when he was just a hair under 150 inches.
Another one hasn't paid off yet, but I passed the deer pictured here 2 years ago as he ran by me in thick cover. I was drawn and about to shoot, when I happened to recognize him as a younger buck I had pics of. Maybe that will pay off this year or next
"MN is the land of great unrealized potential."
Isn't that the sad truth.
This guy will come back as a real stud someday!!
This guy will come back as a real stud someday!!
For many of us, cams are a second (or secondary) hobby. Not a lot different then going for a drive or walk with binoculars and spotting scope. Lots of us like to park our butts on a good lookout on a warm spring day and watch what plays out. Although not the same as actually being there, cams do provide some of the same observations and enjoyment. My deer hunting consists of bush mule deer. Very little crop and that is hay so the deer cycle through areas depending on natural food sources. I just pulled a cam that has been out since early June. Four good bucks in velvet plus bears, moose and coyotes. None of those bucks on cam since late August. Will I ever see one of them hard horned? My experience says, likely not. But I sure like knowing that the area can support good deer and good numbers.
Most of the mature bucks I see while hunting, just suddenly show up during the rut, then disappear as quickly. A multi year history on animals is very interesting to me. I'm now convinced that some of the mature bucks I see/get on cam were born in my little area and were there as yearlings. After being dispersed, the area is still imprinted on their minds. They return looking for does and food. I supplement feed the deer until they all head for the big timber to winter, usually by late December. Two years ago after season closing, I got dozens of pics of six different 4X4 bucks, four at once, that I had never seen or had pics of. I'm inclined to believe that they had the food source imprinted and came to recharge after the rut. It was a very cold, deep snow December.
If you are pulling yours cards, running to the computer and loading the pics up and then are deflated and unhappy that there is no big buck, you are maybe using them for the wrong reason. Unless your sole purpose is to kill the biggest buck possible. But, if like many of us, you load the pics and enjoy seeing what takes place when your not there, then it just adds enjoyment to your day. Few people have the luxury of sitting in the woods all day, everyday or even near as much as we'd like to. Cams can take you there, if even for only a few minutes during the evening after the work is done.
Like so many other hunting choices the folks that don't do it, for whatever reason, are apt to be the "haters". You might be one of those guys that has fifty stands out, a wind map of your area and a constant crop rotation that keeps deer moving past your stands, but if you don't use/need cams, then you look down on them. Or maybe you're that lucky guy that has a stand on each side of a trail in the ravine that is a virtual parade of deer throughout the season. And both scenario's are right out your back door! Who needs a cam and so look down on others.
It's like the husband that said: "My wife always closes her eyes when we make love. She just hates to see me have a good time!!".
Yep, I like trail camera game - except when they get stolen!
I place a lot more stock into them in the early season than the late season for obvious reasons. In the rut I've been focusing a lot less on cams over the last few years. Focus on doe groups and be there. If you get a pic of a giant, good for you, he may be there next time, he may not. It sure is fun looking at pics though. I like to leave them all up through the rut and gives me an idea of what "could" be on the menu for next year within 3 miles.
Just think, we used to have to actually leave the couch to scout...
I simply cannot tell you how great most of the posts make me feel.
I'm going to pick on Bowriter for a minute, because his skin is old and tough anyway.
Here is an example where a guy, by his own declaration, has more tags and places to hunt than he has time or physical ability to use and is just as happy with a young doe or yearling buck as he is with a mature buck. He's been there, done that and has entered into that stage of "diminished excitement" that comes with age and familiarity. Now he can sit back and tell folks that don't have/haven't had the same experiences that they should have his perspective. That's like Solomon writing in Proverbs, that after having eat'en the best foods and having hundreds of beautiful wive's and concubines, that it's empty and meaningless. I believe it, but I'd still like to try it for myself and should be allowed to, just as you were.
I've shot literally more bears than I can count. I still very much enjoy to going out every spring and shoot one or two more. I don't get wound right up about it, but I enjoy it. On the other hand, I was pumped about getting out to try and kill a lowly javelina last January in Arizona. I didn't, but I'm getting excited about going back again in two months.
Hunters have to keep in mind that what excites or gives pleasure to you may not be what does it for someone else. No different than the splintering into trad/compound/crossbow camps. It's alright to have preferences, but it's very narrow minded and destructive to believe that only you hold "The Truth".
Well, except maybe about mechanical broadheads : )
Man, if it's not elk ruining your whitetail it's trail cameras. How can you guys even get yourselves to hunt anymore? :)
I run one or two cameras per year. I don't even pull the card usually until the last day of the archery season before gun season starts. It's just fun to see what was running around in there I didn't see or to see if I got any cool pics. They are a hobby for me and something that is fun to look at but I don't use them as a scouting tool per se. I use my spotting scope, the lay of the land, and the sign on the ground to determine my stand placements. Isn't it great that we have so many options we can do or not do based upon our personal choices with hunting in this day and age? Good times are here!
During season, IMO cameras should be placed in marginal hunting areas. During season, the camera and you checking it is not a positive event for a wary mature animal concerned about seclusion. They are great for catching trespassers, I have every human trail and travel bench mined.
Who has got a photo of a huge buck, one photo in the middle of the night and never another photo or sighting of this buck again? Me. Another reason I dislike inventory of deer and making a "hit list". I like to just sit out there and be surprised with what shows up.
Bottom line is: we hunt for fun, pleasure and personal satisfaction. And who can say or dictate what enhances or diminishes another persons experience?
If you think you can or should, you're just another flavor of "anti".
I kind of get anxious from anticipation when it comes to reviewing photos from trail cams, but I don't while hunting like I used to, based on what the cams are showing me. To some degree, they provide false information and are only an indicator of the past, not the present or future. I think that's why hunting new territory, or going on an out of state hunt, where you don't know what's out there, is so exciting - it's stepping into the unknown.
I run trail cams for crap and giggles.. for me it is kinda like a hobby... I dont try and pattern deer, I dont single out a buck... I just enjoy looking at the pics ....
Here's my favorite trailcam pic. Notice the subject matter isn't even a deer.
In the area I hunt I only have access to one 50 acre farm. I used to hunt it and see sign and some deer but never any big bucks. I figured they had to be there because of the rubs and scrapes but never saw them . I did see smaller bucks and lots of does. My excuse for killing a doe every year but never a nice buck was that there just aren't any in my area. Then I got a trail cam and put it out on a secluded trail and got pics of some real nice bucks mostly at night. Now when I don't kill one my excuse is that they only come out at night ! Not real sure which excuse I liked better !
One fall I had an absolutely tremendous bachelor group of bucks that I found in early October and tried to kill anyone of the five up until the rut. Any one of them would have been my largest typical. The likes of a group I will never see again. I saw them or a couple of them pretty much every morning or evening that I hunted. I hunted avg 1-2x per week. At the same time I hunted I wanted to get a picture of them with a trail camera to show my friends these awesome bucks. I tried so hard for over a month to get a pic of them. I never got a single picture of any of them, and yet I saw at least one of the bucks every time I went out. Trail cameras are great and they are fun, but if you aren't hunting because "there's nothing good on your cam" lol then you are missing out big time.
Nice posts, Ambush!
It's maddening to me that some people think that others use trail cams as a crutch to push foot on the ground and old school scouting to the wayside. Succesful hunters rarely rely solely or even a small percentage on trailcams. Like others have said... TCs are fun and it's exciting to see a rare photo of a big buck. For me... scouting by way of feet to the ground and using aerials is much more paramount to success.
Embry, I think you'd be shocked by how many actually do use them as a crutch. The complaint of the op isn't the first time I've heard "there aint nothin there" based on TC's. I laugh, esp when I know these people hunt BIG deer country. Their wall reflects their worries. I think a lot [not all] of these guys are newer to hunting and/or introduced late in life to hunting.
Cameras and bait are big sellers these days... I don't want either within 100yds of my stand.
Trail cameras are the best way for most WT hunters to start 'naming' bucks :)
Are you ABSOLUTELY certain you aren't missing any bucks with your cams? I had a neighboring property that the guys leasing it had cameras EVERYWHERE and still they killed bucks often that never showed up on their cams. I sometimes thought the cams were as much for keeping the guys hunting to the north (I was on the land on his south border) from trespassing as they were for documenting deer and turkey. I found it rather ironic they were so preoccupied with trespassers as I caught them on my lease more than once.
I have not had a buck on camera all year on my property. Was deterring me a little till the rut started. Sat out with my daughter 2 weeks ago and got had an 8 and a 6 come in with some does. Was able to get the 8. Went back through my camera and he had never come by before, or at least by the camera. Neighbor had him on camera a 1/2 mile away. So you never know when that day will be. Right place right time.
Ohio... you're probably correct. If in fact that's the case, then that's a shame. Scouting and truly getting to know a place is most of the fun, then the chess match begins.
Embry is dead on. That was exactly my point.
I disagree that cameras take the scouting and woodsmanship out of hunting. I don't just hang cameras willy nilly in the woods. I hang cameras where I expect to see deer, even the ones on mineral blocks. You can't set a mineral block in the middle of your road and expect it to visited regularly by deer. I already know where "my" bucks like to scrape and rub, that's WHY I hang the camera there, although I don't do that much anymore. Most of my pics come in the spring/summer as the bucks are growing antlers and the does are raising fawns. I just love to have the opportunity to see the deer. Come September, most of mine are pulled because it's time to stay out of those areas until I'm actually hunting. The exception is food plots. I will run cams on these but only look at the cards every three weeks or so, hardly enough to "hunt" by using the camera. Before I retired, I hunted when I could, now I prefer to hunt by the temps and wind, and my judgement, not what buck is on what camera.
My daughter bought me one for Christmas...first one I ever owned. liked it so much I bought another.
Earlier this summer I had a Big buck on cam at night. Only seen him once. I moved those cams to different locations every week or two. Seen mostly doe and small buck.
A week ago that same buck showed up twice on a trail cam a mile away on another mt.
I hunt mostly big woods, mountainous , state forest land. They can be there today gone tomorrow sometimes.
You can get "back to basics" and still put out trail cams. I still scout like I always did, I still put down a lot of boot leather I just put a cam in likely looking spots now.
Great posts Ambush, some of the best I have read in quite some time. Some things we all need reminders from time to time. Lot of guys riding high horses round these parts, and I've been guilty too.
Great point by drycreek too. I run most of my cams without bait and that takes a good deal of woodsmanship to do well. I am pretty tickled when I get mature bucks because it means I have infiltrated the habits of a mountain ghost.
I enjoy using cameras;have four out.Some interesting video's(all I run) of all kinds of game,not just deer.Those cameras have saved a lot of young bucks lives;I know there are bigger and much bigger in my woods.I have had pictures of an extra large eight point for the last four years;he was shot opening day of gun this year by a neighbor.Should score between 140-150 and weight about 250lbs dressed.
Love my cameras to. Enjoy the pics as much as anything. Nice thing no limit on how many you can take pics of.
I've been having the same thoughts as you Grubby. I just seem less excited to get out there because I don't have a good buck on camera. I'm not going to run them the rest of the season or next year. Good luck!
I have a different take on the same topic. Trail cams have cost me a good buck the last three years. I get a pic of a good one and focus only on him. This has made me pass at least one good buck each year for the last couple. Sometimes I think if I didn't run my cameras I would shoot these other deer and be happy with the outcome. Sometimes I wish deer hunting was more like turkey hunting. I don't know a single person that passes a long beard because he or she knows a bigger one is in the area. Just my two cents. Good luck everyone!!!!!!
Lone wolf, you are exactly right. My cams have saved more subordinate bucks because I’m aware of a bigger buck on my property.
Last week my #1 was killed down the road. Now I don’t know what to do with myself!
Just spent a week sitting in various stands on a friends farms he has access to. He has cams on all the trails leading near the stands. So basically a cam at every stand. I saw at least 4 nice bucks that walked no where near the cams. I only sat there because it looked like good funnels and travel coridors. If I would have relied on only cam pics I would never have sat there !
Also other guys sat on stands with pics of some nice bucks and never saw one of them !
me I don't care,,,, I have been given 3 cameras, two are security for the cabin, and the other is in the yard..... I just go hunt, and have fun...... when I hunt SW Wisconsin, I am looking for a big buck,,,,,, when I am up in the UP, I take what I get,,,,, just like being in the woods and having fun,,,,,
tracking deer in the ml season in the UP is the best, but a lost art for many, ,,,,,,
I have no problem with cameras, but now that you can scout on your computer, watch your cameras in the woods, to me, takes something away from fair chase but that's me, we are all different.....
"now I don't know what to do with myself" that is a sad comment
I have a few cams that I use less and less every year. I don't care about pics of deer, I don't care about sheds....I only want to shoot them.
My reasons for not using them is I rarely ever shoot a deer that I've seen on camera. Maybe happened 2 times? I think the reason I rarely do it is I am disrupting deer checking cams.
I think they often are a net negative.
Ground blind... my comment was tongue in cheek. Chill out. ;-)
I hate em. Never owned one. Never will. They make me want to carry a baseball bat in the woods to smash the crap out of em. When you guys get pics of someone flipping you off... that's probably me... nothin' personal :^)
I hope everyone who says things similar to "I don't want to go hunting if I don't know there is a huge freak nasty out there so I can smoke him" is tongue and cheek.
A buddy of mine owns 200 acres. Big deer hunter. Takes three weeks of vacation every November.
He comes and meets me yesterday to look at some timberland he’s thinking of buying. We do the deed and on the way back to dropping him off at his truck, he explains how down he is because his trail cam shows no “shooters”.
He follows me back to the yard and sets there from 10:30 till 2:30. Most of the time by himself as we were busy. My partner and me prompted him many times to go hunting. He wasn’t having any of it.
He texted me the following pic this morning. He pulled his card before climbing up. 12:30 yesterday this brute was below his stand. I love it.
His camera was set to take only one pic. Also due to his dumbness. Get in the woods boys.
I'm just heading out to check trail cams.
Oh, that sound you hear, is me not really giving a crap if you like them or not. Not sure why you care either???
What you are really upset about is how much you are working.
Nice work if you can get.