Trail-Camera Precautions by Patrick Meitin
Trail-cameras can help your hunting—or hurt it.
Several seasons ago I thought I’d get a jump on my season by deploying a handful of trail-cameras late in the summer. Honestly, I was simply anxious to see what prospects the season held, to involve myself more deeply in the festivities I anticipated so impatiently. Trail-cameras are just flat fun; nearly as fun as hunting itself. As one friend so ineloquently puts it, “Trail-cameras are like crack.”
I hung cameras at a couple waterholes holding possibilities for Idaho’s warm August 30 archery opener and at a couple other spots I’d discovered during late-winter scouting when snow lays all bare and trophy bucks are in full survival mode and provide insights into how they elude relentless deer hunters. One of these sites seemed to have all the requisites for a super site, an ancient, brushed-over logging-road corner cutting around a mud-sticky, plowed agricultural field and rocky hill, a path of least resistance connecting lower cedar-swamp bedding cover with upper alfalfa fields (half a mile away) visited only during nighttime hours (which late-season trail cams had also revealed).
A more prudent nimrod would have left those cameras alone until just before season opener when the information was actually needed. But I couldn’t help myself. I was eager to immerse myself in the beginnings of whitetail fever that overtakes me as each summer crawls to an excruciating close. I checked the corner camera a few days later, absolutely ecstatic to have captured a gorgeous 6 ½-year-old buck in daylight every one of the days it was left unattended. It’s pretty darned cool when a hunch pans out like that, whether by pure luck or hunting savvy. It makes it easy to imagine you’re starting to get a handle on things.