We’ve all seen trail-camera photos of spooked deer. I can’t say that the thought hasn’t crossed my mind that trail cameras sometimes disturb deer — especially mature bucks.
Every deer has its own personality. Some bucks I’ve caught on camera never once looked at the camera. Other bucks I’ve monitored never looked away from it. The best thing to do is to abide by as many of the rules as possible to conceal those cameras.
1. Use Small Ones
Bulky cameras no longer have a place in the world. Those days are over. There are too many good compact options on the market for anyone to choose to buy a big camera. Smaller cameras are less obtrusive. They aren’t as noticeable and obvious.
2. Run Quiet Models
It isn’t always the sight of a trail camera that alerts deer; it’s the sound. Concealing a camera’s presence isn’t always a visual thing. It can be an audible one, too.
3. Camo Them Up
Choose a camera with Realtree camo on it. Simple enough? Pair that with some natural vegetation intertwined around it, and deer aren’t as likely to pick out the unit.
4. Kill The Lights
Anyone who still uses white flash cameras needs to get with the program. The last flash camera I owned was stolen in 2012. Heck, the flash is probably what alerted the trespasser who heisted it. I vowed not to buy another. Use less obtrusive options like infrared or black flash cameras. Also, use the camera mode rather than the video mode. The sight of a prolonged glowing light—versus a flash of light—might be enough to intimidate deer.
5. Post Them Higher
Hang cameras higher up on the tree. Hanging a camera five to six feet high will keep it out of a whitetail’s line of sight. Tie cameras on a little higher, and angle them downward for better concealment.
6. Back Them Off
Don’t put cameras directly over a mineral site, bait pile, etc. And don’t hang them directly on trails (when possible), either. Set them 10 to 15 feet further away than you typically would. Deer will be much less likely to spot them. Grant it, every situation is different. But try to keep cameras at least 20 to 25 feet away from heavy traffic areas.
7. Wash Them Down
Spray your cameras down with a scent-eliminating product. Smell is the No. 1 defense. Don’t help a deer’s cause by stinking up your camera sites. And don’t just spray the camera, spray the tree trunk and ground around them, too.
Extra Tip: Leave Them Up
I seem to get more spooked-deer photos right after posting a camera than any other time. This led me to a thought: The best way to conceal cameras is to leave them up and let deer get used to them. Just note that you won’t ever be able to fully conceal them from whitetails. Deer aren’t dumb. They’ll eventually spot your cams. The best thing to do is to leave them up long enough that resident deer accept them as part of their natural environment. Do everything you can to get satisfying results.
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Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.