Normal Trail Camera Strategies DON’T Cut it for Cell Cams

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Cell Camera SPECIFIC Tactics for Deer Season

With cell cameras quickly taking the place of traditional trail cameras in many deer hunter’s arsenal, it’s time to ask, “Are the same trail camera strategies employed for years now still the best choice for cell cameras?”

There is no doubt that use of trail cameras has been perfected over the years since the first film cameras entered the industry. So much so that most hunters are somewhat mastering the practice. Most have a strategy in place on their farms that has been tried and true for many seasons, but what’s new? Besides better images, better settings, features, and dependability, not much has changed in the way of trail cameras, especially that would change an approach to the strategy used to deploy them. That is until now with the advent of cell cameras – and dependable, long-lasting cell cameras at that! So what OLD camera strategies are at jeopardy here? Could they be tweaked, enhanced, or altered with the use of cell cameras or should they be simply thrown out altogether? 

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Current BEST Trail Camera Strategies

The current best camera strategies for deer have to do with specific locations and specific seasons.

  • TIME FRAME: Early Season (September – Early October) 

LOCATION: Food Source

Details:  It’s not hard to know that easily the single deadliest trail camera location during the early season is centered around a food source. Deer trails from bedding to food sources can allow you to catch mature bucks before shooting light ends and determine stand locations. Cams directly on food sources can also yield early season opportunities due to patterned bucks. 

  • TIME FRAME: Pre-Rut (Late October – Early November)

LOCATION: Scrapes, Trails Near Bedding

DETAILS: It’s in this timeframe that many, if not most, hunters try to move cameras to community scrapes. Any scrape on a great run, preferably around known buck bedding, doe bedding, or even food sources is a great place to take inventory of bucks on the property and when they are on the property. 

  • TIME FRAME: Peak Rut (Peak Breeding and Lockdown Phase)


DETAILS: Deer runs and especially funnels just before and during the peak breeding phase are a staple for picking up on any buck that isn’t already locked down with a doe. 

  • TIME FRAME: Post Rut/Late Season (End of November – December)

LOCATION: Food Source and Trails

DETAILS: Trail camera strategies here eerily mimic early season camera placement with one key difference: runs can be even better places to catch buck movement, especially in the post rut, exactly a month after peak breeding. Why? A month after peak breeding in your area means the second rut, when unbred does or fawns hitting critical weight can come into estrous. Bucks searching for fawns or getting pulled into deer runs/funnels can be caught in the same major runs that trail cameras might be placed in during the peak rut. 

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Do These Strategies Work For Cell Cams? 

The simple answer is YES…of course they do. But the answer you should take away from reading this is NO. This is because reliable cell cameras like the Stealth Cam Fusion, powered by the Stealth Command App, can be used to gather some critical data that OLD trail camera strategies can easily MISS. 

Cell cameras instantly add immense value to each of the strategies mentioned above by one simple fact…you don’t have to pull cards. This does two things: 

  • Keeps Pressure Low 
  • Instant Intel 

This means, if you’re hunting a private or public property, you can start thinking outside the box with new trail camera strategies that create even more opportunities at bucks, especially mature bucks. What are these strategies? While there are definitely some new strategies that can be developed from cell cameras, the same old strategies can and will work. The important thing to remember is that cell cameras give you the ability to enhance those strategies.

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Take for example a trail camera strategy based on food sources. If you have a food plot and a stand or blind on that plot, chances are you want a trail camera somewhere close by where you can pull the card on the way in or out, without disturbing much of the plot. That already is determining the location of the camera, not simply putting the camera at the far end, where most of the deer traffic will be. Without a cell camera, you can’t put a camera at that end of the plot without busting deer bedded nearby. 

The same can be said for scrapes, runs, and even funnels in and around bedding. The human pressure factor alone can be one of the biggest distractions in trail camera placement that cell cameras can eliminate. If you are hunting a mature target buck that you may hang your entire season on, normal trail camera card checks will be few and far between, spanning days and more likely weeks. If that buck catches your scent more than 2 or 3 times in a week, chances are he is picking up on your hunting strategy and could avoid the area. Instead of battling internally second guessing yourself on checking camera cards, cell cameras would instead allow you to put the camera at an optimal location, and never check it again in the season, unless of course you need to swap batteries (but there is a way around that).  

NEW or BETTER Cell Cam Strategies? 

Cell cameras give you such a huge advantage over their prehistoric counterparts that it could be considered a different tool in the arsenal altogether. The fact that the technology is so new to the industry means that most hunters still have several if not all of their old trail cameras, with a few cell cameras scattered in their collection. So employ the same trail camera strategies you have with your old cameras, but just enhance your best spots or guaranteed harvest spots with cell cameras. Better yet, challenge yourself to use NEWER strategies that have been created just from cell cameras. Here are a few. 

Bedding Areas/Core Area Confirmation

One proven cell camera strategy can be used to keep inventory of what is or what is not on the property. Keeping tabs on your bucks or single target buck happens WITHIN his core area…not outside it. Cell camera placement in simply one intrusion can produce a season worth of intel on your buck’s movements within his core area. After the season starts, this info can be critical in knowing he is still alive or if he is on your property. This is something you would never risk with a normal camera, especially in sanctuaries or prime buck bedding. You just would never check it…but with a cell camera, it is possible. 

New Scouting Location Intel

One of the biggest advantages cell cameras can give hunters is when it is combined with in-season scouting! This is a huge improvement, especially in situations like targeting bucks on public land where scouting trips during multiple points in the season are needed. Hunters lack the confidence of scouting for new sign if the property deer traffic slows. It might reveal where to hang a stand, but you would have to give it several days before going back in due to pressure. However, now any new or hot sign can be confirmed with intel from cell cameras. Fresh scrapes on a run from a potential new or old bedding area or food source, with instant intel could turn a depressing season into a successful one in a matter of hours. 

The Bridge Too Far 

If you know where some dependable buck bedding is on a property, chances are you have both a stand and a trail camera on a run or scrape around 100 or so yards from it. It’s not your ideal placement, it’s just the closest you can get without spooking deer in it. This is unfortunate because by the time the deer have made it 100 yards, they could be on one of several micro runs that jut off just before your stand or camera, but might still be in bow range of either! Remember, lot of movement and decisions are made by deer within 100 yards. That can result in a lot of missed or misleading information.  A cell camera can fill in as that missing bridge to the critical information, something old cameras just could not do. While your stand might need to stay 60-100 yards back from the bedding area, the cell camera can be on the main run coming out before deer might start taking micro runs, or being just out of range or behind that further placed camera.  

In all cases, cell cameras enhance old trail camera strategies. But old trail camera strategies won’t work for cell cameras in all scenarios. You need to challenge yourself to think outside the box with cell cameras, as dramatically better information…buck killing information…can be gathered with them in the right locations. Whether that is inside the buck’s bedroom, just outside of it, or shedding light on a new target buck in a new location, cell cameras can and will do it. Arm yourself with the latest and greatest cell cameras, and start becoming a master of using new and improved cellular trail camera strategies. 

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