There is not doubt that game cameras have become a valuable tool in hunting the wild game we are after. They are great to put over food plots and feeders just so we get an idea of what may be in the area. The are great to put on trails to see what is using the trail and hopefully give us a chance to pattern that big buck. Sometimes we get caught up in the pictures that are on the camera and we forget to look at the big picture.
This has been a tough year for me hunting. I hadn’t been feeling well and I had not got to spend time in the preseason scouting like I normally do. This forced me to get back to figuring out how to hunt the property again, which is a good thing. After all part of the reward of hunting is figuring out the deer and their patterns.
I moved to a new area that to my knowledge had little to no pressure on it since I’ve been in the club. It’s a long walk so most people don’t want to go the distance. I’ve wanted to hunt the area for sometime and now was a good time to start. I set up a game camera over what looked to be a heavily used trail. The area also had a variety of acorns, which helped the deer activity. The pictures started coming in. They started out as mostly does and small bucks. As the season progressed better bucks started showing up, but they were always at night. If i did have a day time picture it was usually a doe or small buck. With the rut approaching I knew that it was a matter of time the bigger bucks would start showing up and maybe I would have a chance at one during shooting light. I was still getting bucks on camera and I had picked out a couple of decent bucks that if I had a chance I would try to shoot at them.
When you work a full time job, sometimes in the early part of the season it is hard to figure out when you should take off. You don’t want to waste a day hoping that the prime time is just about to start, but you are itching just to be out there. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut or sometimes you just have to feed that need to be outdoors. This day I really needed to feed the need to be outside. I knew that there was a doe and a small buck that had showed up in the morning time and one of the decent bucks had shown up once in the morning. So I took the day off. It was a beautiful fall morning. It felt great to be up in a tree whether I saw a deer or not. I had only been in the stand 10 mins when I saw the small buck behind me eating acorns. He was working his way towards me. Before he got to me another deer showed up. At first I didn’t realize it was another buck. The bigger buck had a stared down with the younger buck. Then the younger buck made his way about 15 yards from me. The bigger buck started to move down the edge of the thicket and I thought I’ll not see him again. To my luck he decided to graze on some acorns where the younger buck was. He made his way towards the smaller buck. It wasn’t until he got close to me that I realized he was a pretty good buck. This deer had never showed up on camera. I was fortunate that day, that I harvested one of my best bucks to date. If I had not just went with my gut and just wanted to be in the outdoors that day, I may never had a chance at that deer.
I know better to just go off of the story that the game camera tells. I have been in a stand too many times and seen a lot of deer in the area that never walked by the camera. If I had not been there that day I would have thought there was no deer in that area that day. The camera is a valuable tool, but it is only a small snapshot of the area. Don’t let pictures or the lack of pictures keep you from hunting an area. If you have a food source, you have good sign, you have does and you know the rut is approaching, you know it is a matter of time a buck may show up too. Always remember to look at the big picture, not just what is in front of the camera. It is not always what it seems.