Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Trail Cam Tuesday: Trail Camera Sets & Scent Control

Close encounter with a black bear.
As with most hunters, hunting season never really ends, it just progresses to the next year. That is no different here; even in the “off-season” there are still a thousand and one things to do to prepare for the next season.  And that only amplifies when the spring turns to summer and the realization that hunting season is only a few months away. That means a lot of hunters are starting/in the process of hanging, checking, or moving stand set and are continually scouting their hunting area to become more ready for the fall. With scouting there are many things and strategies to consider. One of my favorite tools are trail cameras. There are a wide variety of brands, types, and uses but mainly this is a tool that can be used to help the hunter find what deer are in the specific areas, what, if any, kind of pattern they are on, and another added feature is it allows you to keep “hunting” all year long.  As is to human nature when it is getting close to the season starting, we begin to take short cuts. But could taking shortcuts this summer while setting trail cameras and checking end up hurting you this hunting season? This is something most hunters know can happen - “blowing out” your hunting area and the corridors that lead to and from it by over hunting or having excessive travel in the areas during hunting season, but have you thought about it in summer while checking you cameras?

There is something that you can be doing that takes very little effort and time to help prepare. I do it and won’t lie – I need to do it more as the season gets closer!  At this point you may be wondering what exactly I am talking about…

Think this buck might have smelled something on the camera?
I am talking about the advancements in scent control technology! Specifically, scent control of your trail camera and surrounding area.  For those you that aren't doing this yet, let me ask you a question. Would you go out opening day of season wearing your t-shirt you wore to workout in last night, your blue jeans that are covered in grease, oil, and gas, and those old pair of shoes that you use to cut the grass in? I wouldn't either! Our trail cameras are no different. Our natural scent is plastered on our cameras every time we touch them and the wildlife can smell that something is/was there.

The hunting industry as a whole has greatly advanced over the last 10 to 15 years in scent blocking.
One of the leading and continual changing products is scent protection and elimination lines. It is agreed upon that the best situation is to know how to read the wind and use it to your advantage, but like many other hunters I don’t always have the time to wait for Mother Nature to help me. This is where I have started to use a simple yet systematic approach to check my trail cameras during this valuable time of the pre-season.

I know as soon as I said systematic that it turned a few of you off, but really I promise it is simple! First off, you already know the area you are hunting and using your trail cameras in. Most of you already do this but if you don’t, map out the area(s) where your trail cameras are to allow for you to enter and exit on the quickest route and with the least amount of disturbance to the area and wildlife. Now that’s the first half of my systematic approach, pretty simple this far, right?

The other half does require a little forethought and/or planning. If you are like me you just need an empty spot in your truck to leave the gear. Now you may be asking what gear you are going to need to check a trail camera. The obvious answer is a new SD card to switch, new batteries, and possibly some minerals and food to refill your feeder(s) if your state regulations allow it. That is a good start but that isn’t everything you’ll need. To help with the scent control, I like to keep a few items in a backpack in the back of my truck for whenever I get the chance to check my cameras. A list of the items and explanations are as follows:
  • Rubber Boots - These have been proven time and time again to help reduce the scent.
  • Latex/Rubber Gloves (x4) – This to help reduce the transfer of scent when handling your trail cameras.
  • Scent-Free Field Wipes - These are great to have if you are randomly checking your camera after work or school and are sweaty, wearing cologne or even if you are just waiting to be cautious, wipe down with these and help mask your scent.
  • Clothes - This might sound like a little bit of over kill, but its summer and I like to wear shorts, shorts and briers don’t mix. I have a pair of old light weight hunting pants I can slip over my shorts and a “scent-free” long-sleeve shirt to throw on also. This helps protect you as well as help cover your scent.
  • Cover Scent / Scent-Free Spray – This will pull double duty, this will be used to spray yourself down as well as the area the camera is in as well as its strap.
  • Tools – I like to keep a small folding saw, pair of handheld pruning shears, and a folding shovel with me while I am checking trail cameras. These are a great help when trying to clear the view for a camera, establish a better staging area for the deer to cross in front of the camera, help with last minute touches on clearing shoot lanes, or lastly when it’s time to start making those mock scrapes (look for this topic to be covered in a later article).
  • Backpack – This might have been a given, but I like to have it for multiple reasons. It is nice to have everything together and easy to grab, but it also is great to use while check the cameras. I like to throw in some extra batteries (even with have estimated timelines I like to know I can replace them if need be), extra SD cards, my tools, the Cover Scent / Scent-Free Spray, field wipes, latex gloves, and a bottle of water or two as if can be a length walk at times.

Overall this might sound a little cautious, but it has helped me pattern deer better over the last few years and if this can help anyone this fall I am glad to share it. Does anyone else do this or are you going to start? And if you already do this, what essential gear or tips did I miss?
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