While several reporters noted that we’ve reached that period that frustrates many hunters, there’s been enough action that they also managed to provide some of the most insightful and useful reporting of the season.
Take, for example, Mid-South reporter Will Brantley, who brought us the cool story of Harry Pozniak’s fine Kentucky 8-pointer. The hunt was a perfect reminder of something I feel strongly about—that trail cameras, though undoubtedly useful, reveal only one small slice of the deer activity. Sometimes, you need to go find out the rest. As Brantley noted in his report, Pozniak didn’t shy away from some boots-on-the-ground scouting and uncovered some key intel on a red oak stand. Using the information he gleaned, the hunter hung a stand and shot his buck. Sometimes, and especially now, successful deer hunting boils down to woodsmanship, not technology.
On a similar note, West reporter Brian Strickland told us about successful Montana outfitter Keith Miller, who stressed the importance of patience. Too often, we see an early-season buck on a pattern and assume that we can kill the deer on the first sit from a stand. It’s easy to forget that whitetails have many feeding options, especially during early fall. Even when you know a deer is living in a certain area, he usually has numerous options about where he decides to stop first for an evening meal. It’s tempting to think that an unsuccessful sit means you’ve bumped a buck or that he’s simply moved off, when in fact riding out the stand (assuming you have the right conditions) is often the best option.
Finally, Northeast reporter Mike Shea brought us a great report (and video) of a dandy suburban buck killed by Johnny Browns. Browns got on to his trophy way back in turkey season, when he spotted a velvet buck with a distinctive brow tine. In the months that followed, Browns kept tabs on the trophy using trail cameras. I found it interesting that in the comments sections a reader mused that Browns’ use of multiple trail cams was not a “low-impact” approach, as Shea claimed.
I think the answer lies not so much in the specific number of trail cams, but instead what a given buck is used to. The intrusion required to hang and monitor 20 trail cams might be excessive for a big-woods buck, for example, but that same effort may be totally ignored by a whitetail accustomed to humans on a regular basis. This successful hunt seems to prove that principle.
The bottom line: Think about what the buck you’re scouting considers normal human intrusion. If your use of trail cams, plus boots-on-the-ground scouting, is excessive in his normal world, scale your efforts back. If not, go for it. There is, after all, no such thing as too much information when it comes to mature bucks.