Don't Spook 'Em: How to Catch Bucks on Your Trail Camera

STEP 1: Keeping yourself and your equipment as scent-free as possible is fundamental. Don rubber boots and latex gloves before you head out, and spray yourself, the camera housing, and any scraps or attaching devices with a scent eliminator. Skip this step, and the game is over before you start.

STEP 2: Mature bucks are lazy critters, which makes any terrain funnel a high-odds spot for capturing their images. Look for a trail in a ridge saddle, at the head of a ravine, or on a logging road that offers deer convenient travel. Entries into nighttime feeding areas, such as alfalfa fields, are another great spot.

STEP 3: Standing deer are always better targets than walking ones. Create a mock scrape beneath a tree limb that overhangs the trail. Spray 1 ounce of deer urine (buck or doe is fine) on the scrape. Most bucks will pause to work it long enough for the camera to snap a good shot.

STEP 4: Choose a tree within your camera's recommended flash range (20 to 30 feet is usually ideal) and strap it no more than 4 feet up the trunk. With a conventional flash, point the lens so that the buck will be quartering away when he triggers the unit. This minimizes flash effect and reduces the chance he'll spook. If your model has a passive infrared (PIR) trigger, point the lens directly at the trail or scrape; most deer won't detect the flash. Be sure to hide your camera as much as possible and use a cable and lock system to deter thieves.

STEP 5: Minimize visits to avoid spreading human scent. At most, check it once a week, and only during midday when deer are bedded.