To start this series of posts featuring Gander Mountain I wanted to be 100% transparent in that Gander Mountain is a current sponsor of The Will to Hunt. After 5 years they are my first sponsor. I generally don’t take sponsorship offers because I don’t want to have any bias to a specific brand but as a retailer, I don’t feel there was any room for bias in that they carry multiple brands and is a store I truly frequent as a customer. You’ll see several more posts featuring them in some manner but the content is 100% my own and my opinion.
As we kick off another deer season, many people pull their cameras but it’s a prime time to be watching the change in deer habits. If you pull cameras now you’re losing out on a some key information as we creep closer to the rut and food sources change.
This year I’m pretty much exclusively hunting public land except for potential invites from friends and one tip for using trail cameras on public land is not only to secure them but also to place them where you can monitor human activity. For one of the public spots I picked up a Moultrie A-20 and locking cable from Gander Mountain. I chose the A-20 because it’s affordable at just $79.99 so if someone messed with it I wouldn’t lose much money. Despite it’s low price it packs a ton of features including a 12 megapixel sensor and less than 1 second trigger speed. I placed it in an area with some decent deer sign but also along a main trail that was a bit removed from the parking area. I had two goals, monitor human activity on the trails and see if the deer are using the trails or following the tree line further off the trail. What I found after just a week was that a guy nearby uses the trails every couple of days to walk his huskies, it’s loaded with coyotes and all the deer that came by were either on alert or running. I pulled that camera but plan to relocate it to an area further off the trail to see how the human and coyote presence affects the deer movement.
I also picked up a Moultrie M-999i for use in an area with what appeared to be zero human presence and overwhelming deer presence. This camera is a bit more of an investment and that’s why I placed on a property with less people around. I definitely still locked it up though! After scouting via maps I found what looked like a decent staging area between bedding and a pinch point by two food sources all of which led to a river. My assumptions were confirmed by the heavy deer trails and furthermore with pictures of deer and turkey using the trails almost all hours of the day.
As the season progresses many factors change deer movement and keeping trail cameras out and in strategic locations is immensely helpful. As crops are cut and acorns drop, changing food sources completely change movement patterns. Additionally as we all know the approaching mating season will blow just about any daily patterns out of the water especially for bucks. Focus your trail camera efforts on main travel routes and don’t be afraid to move them to monitor as many areas as possible. Since most seasons are underway be strategic about moving cameras to minimize your impact on the area.
Monitoring a property with trail cameras over the off season is great but keeping an eye on deer movement during hunting season is invaluable.