Whitetail Rut Camera Strategies to Use This Season
While you can pattern whitetails really well in the early season and have a great chance at taking a mature buck, there’s still something magical about the peak rut. It’s that chaotic time when bucks let their guard down (a little) and put many miles on seeking, chasing, and tending does. For that reason, it’s a really fun time to be in the woods. It’s also a great time to use intel gathered from trail camera pictures to decide where and when to hunt. Here are a few rut camera strategies to use this fall as we enter one of the most exciting phases of the deer hunting world.
Comparison of Each Trail Camera Type
Before we launch into the rut camera strategies, we need to discuss the primary differences between regular trail cameras and wireless or cellular trail cameras. Regular trail cameras are defined here as the ones that store pictures on removable SD cards that you need to actually plug into a computer or card reader to view. Meanwhile, wireless trail cams make use of a data plan to actually send the pictures or videos to your phone for viewing remotely. Here are some of the strengths and weaknesses of these two types of trail cameras.
Regular Trail Cameras
Regular trail cameras have been around for many years now, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stagnated over time. In fact, today’s trail cameras in this category are light-years ahead of what they used to be. They’re able to take amazing professional looking pictures and videos, and capture some amazing sequences. The drawback with these cameras of course is that you need to actually go retrieve the SD cards every time you want to view the pictures. Depending on how sensitive the area you’re hunting is, that could hurt your odds at taking a mature and educated buck.
The Stealth Cam DS4K trail camera is one of the market’s best trail cameras in this class for several reasons. First, it is the world’s first digital trail camera capable of taking Ultra High Definition videos in 4K quality with audio. But it can also take 30 megapixel photographs (that’s similar to a professional camera). With its dual sensors (i.e., DS) and 100-foot detection NoGlo flash, it can also take great images that are optimized for night or for day, without animals detecting it.
Wireless Trail Cameras
Relatively new to the market are wireless or cellular trail cameras. The biggest benefit for these cameras is that you can place them in a sensitive or remote area once, and then regularly receive updates (in the form of trail camera videos or pictures) of which deer are moving through the area. There’s no need to return to the camera each time you want to see pictures.
The Stealth Cam GXW global cellular camera works with nearly any cellular network in the world. By using the free Stealth Cam Remote App, you can change camera settings and update the photo transmission schedule (i.e., how often the camera sends you photos). You can even take and send a photo on demand from the app. Moreover, the camera has a built-in GPS, which plots your camera’s location on Google maps so you know exactly where your pictures are coming from. That’s extremely important for informing hunting strategies. The GXW can also quickly send photos up to 12 megapixels and 1080p high-resolution videos with audio.
Rut Camera Strategies
As we enter the rut phase, deer activities change significantly from the early season or pre-rut. Bucks start moving more within their fall range (including in daylight), seeking receptive does to chase and tend. If you want to keep apprised of what’s going on, but don’t want direct scouting to influence the deer behavior, your trail camera strategies need to shift a bit too. Here are some different rut camera strategies based on different areas where you’re likely to encounter bucks during the rut, as well as what kind of cameras you should be using.
Open Fields/Food Plots
While mature bucks tend to stop using open fields during daylight hours throughout the pre-rut of October, they will often start making appearances again as they enter the rut. Their minds usually have one mission, which is to follow a receptive doe everywhere she goes. Thus, if a hot doe ends up in a field or food plot, he is likely to follow. In these areas, especially where you can access them sneakily, regular trail cameras work great. For example, the DS4K takes amazing high-quality photos and videos, both at night and during the day, allowing you to see exactly when a buck enters the field. Because the images are so high in resolution (at 30 megapixels), you can zoom in pretty far on a given picture to identify a buck that’s sneaking by on the periphery.
Big Timber Trails
During the rut, bucks spend a lot of time moving about looking for does. They will often search through transition areas located between feeding and bedding areas, which means they can be a great spot to ambush one. As far as rut camera strategies go, it’s best not to contaminate these travel corridors and pinch points with too much human scent and disturbance, particularly if the deer aren’t used to human presence. In these cases, using a wireless trail camera is a great way to gather useful hunting information without spooking them. Try sneaking into one of these areas during the middle of the day, quickly set up a wireless camera, and sneak back out.