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How to Deploy Cell Trail Cams to Tag Trophy Bucks

Deer season is near. A sound trail-cam plan with Moultrie Mobile Edge can max your chances.

How to Deploy Cell Trail Cams to Tag Trophy Bucks

Summer is waning and fall will soon be upon us. Deer hunters are scouting and prepping for the season, which includes trail-camera deployment. As such, here are trail-cam tips for whitetails, and how to get the most from your Moultrie Mobile Edge cell cam and app.

Cell Cam Maximization

There are numerous benefits with using a trail camera. Traditional SD cams are still relevant, but cell cameras are even more effective. Regardless, certain features provide crucial information for deer hunters who use them, the basic of which is the info strip.

Even so, it provides vital information including date and time of day, both of which should be analyzed when studying the first and last frame. These factors can help indicate where a deer is bedding, feeding and more.

Other camera features include trigger speed, detection range and illumination range. These impact how centered a deer is in the frame and how far away the target animal can be. Higher mega-pixels result in clearer images, especially if you need to zoom in and determine antler characteristics of a far-off buck in the background. Other features, such as aspect ratio, multi-shot, timelapse and video mode showcase deer that are further from the cam, closer to frame edges and even illustrates behavioral tendencies more effectively. Of course, better battery life keeps a cell cam in the field longer, especially when paired with an external battery source.

What Cams Reveal

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There are numerous benefits of running cell cams. The most obvious is that there’s no need for pulling cards to check photos. Add an external battery source and you can run an untouched, unvisited cell cam for many months. Even in video mode – which can better visualize a deer’s behaviors, tendencies and direction of travel – cams can boast a lengthy battery life. That makes soaking cell cams in more sensitive areas, such as bedding areas, finally possible.

Patterning a deer is difficult. Deer might seem calculative, but they aren’t. They’re merely reactive to their environment. This impacts their bedding-area selections, food sources and more. It leads to short-, mid-, and long-term patterns.

Another benefit of cell cams is analyzing both historical and most recent information. Historical info for returning bucks can help predict when and where a buck might do something next. Paired with the latest photos, that’s a powerful 1-2 cell-cam punch. Patterning a target buck has never been more streamlined.

Identifying specific target bucks is simpler, too. There are certain things to consider when attempting to verify a unique return buck. Facial coloration, fur patterns and coloration, body size, body scars and other body markings can help identify deer. Antler characteristics can be unique, too, including antler spread, antler mass, tine length, brow tines and abnormal points.

Other benefits include taking herd inventory, monitoring herd health, observing other game animals and improving property security.

Where to Place Cams

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When deciding where to place cameras, use a top-down approach to increase efficiency. Position cameras in key locations first, then work down the line. Certain areas are great all-season locations. Generally, these are mostly terrain- and water-based. Examples include pinch-points, funnels, saddles, inside field corners, isolated water holes, mineral sites, bait sites (where legal), scrapes, mock scrapes, etc.

Other places are great seasonal locations. Usually, these are mostly bedding- and food-based areas which hinge on changing needs in bedding requirements and altering food sources. Examples include seasonal bedding areas (i.e. north-facing slopes in warmer weather, south-facing slopes in colder weather, doe-bedding areas during the rut), food-source edges and staging areas.

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Drilling down further, other areas make great camera locations, especially during the early season, pre-rut and rut. Some of these include the edges of agricultural fields, micro plots, trail emergences, trail intersections, fence crossings, and soft- and hard-mast trees. Specific topographical features to place cameras along include benches, leeward (downwind-side) ridges, ridge lines, ridge endings (points), saddles, and thermal hubs (lowest points in fields and crow’s feet).

Once ready to place cameras, consider glassing first to help identify possible spots to hang cameras. Cast a wide net in search of a target buck. Once one is discovered, learn the buck’s core area, patterns and tendencies. The Moultrie Mobile app features a great mapping tool that allows you to mark trail-camera locations, so you can easily find them later and also to hone in on a buck’s location. Once it’s time, move in to hunt the buck.

Implement Situational Tactics

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When scouting with trail cameras, it’s crucial to read a property’s habitat, terrain and topography. Study potential bedding areas, food sources, water sources, travel routes and hunting pressure. Analyze the best locations to place cameras that provide maximum intel without alerting deer to your presence.

Once the trail-cam data starts rolling in, focus on the clues behind each image. Try to understand why the deer was moving through that area at that time. Deer do everything for a reason: bedding, food and water, security, social or hunting pressure.

For example, consider an afternoon daylight image of a mature buck. What bedding area did it leave? What is the destination food source? What was the wind direction when it used that area? The answers to these questions can help set up a high-odds strike.

Furthermore, understand that things can be quite different than you think. Of course, cams help unravel the mysteries behind a given deer. Take my 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 early season Kentucky bucks, for example. These deer were all shot within a 50-yard radius. Even so, they all used different bedding areas, followed different travel routes and were arrowed in slightly different locations. Trail cameras helped determine their patterns, as well as how, when, and where to strike.

Prevent Self-Inflicted Problems

As someone who’s run hundreds of trail cameras and who’s captured millions of trail camera images, most cell-cam problems are preventable. Maintenance and preventative measures stop most issues dead in their tracks. Use the right settings, keep battery contact points clean and use common sense.

Finally, take certain precautions while deploying trail cameras. Certain efforts can prevent deer from avoiding trail cameras. Be scent-conscious when hanging cams. When possible, use an ATV, side-by-side, vehicle, or e-bike while hanging the cams. Further conceal your trail cameras by running smaller, quieter camera models, such as the Moultrie Mobile Edge. Additionally, consider adding some camo around it, such as moss (but don’t cover up the lens or sensor). Hang cameras higher and angle them downward to keep these out of a deer’s line of sight.

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Moultrie Mobile Edge Cellular Trail Camera

The Moultrie Mobile Edge checks the above boxes, and then some. Priced at $99.99 for the unit and affordable data plans through the Moultrie Mobile app, this camera offers a cell-cam solution on a budget. It even comes with a two-year warranty, just in the off chance something goes wrong.

Deer season is near. Those who implement a sound cell camera trail camera plan are likely to experience more success this fall and winter.

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