The dreaded Summer trail cam pull has happened - no bucks! After letting your trail cams soak for several weeks with the anticipation of some giant Summer velvet-fest bucks, you discover a moderate amount of deer pics and zero mature bucks. What do you do? If you are thinking your hunting and herd management goals are an absolute bust for this season think again, because more often than not, zero mature bucks in the Summer equals a bountiful supply in the Fall.
*Check out why sometimes Non Core Bucks, are often Summer time trail cam bucks.
Summer Buck and Doe Locations
While doe family groups prefer thick, high stem count cover types of grasses, weeds, briars, shrubs and hardwood renovation all year long, in my experience bucks rarely prefer the thick cover they crave during the Fall and Winter, during the Summer. If you have 500 to 1000 acres of hunting land, you may not notice that bucks prefer one side of the land during the Summer vs the Fall. However, even 1000 acres of land may not be enough. During my Summer time scouting missions in SW WI and feedback from my client's around the entire North 1/2 of the Country, a common theme has popped up throughout the years, in that bucks routinely live 3/4s of a mile or more between their Summer and Fall hangouts. My average client parcel size is roughly 100 acres, with 50% of those parcels totaling 60 acres or less. With average hunting parcel sizes topping out at a 100 acres or less, the vast majority of deer parcels are either Summer parcels or Fall parcels. Why do bucks live in one location during the Summer and another During the Fall? There are several great reasons why that what you discover on your trail cams during the Summer, will most likely not be reflected during the Fall.
*You can't pattern mature bucks with trail cams, if your trail cams are not reliable. After two full years of zero hunting season trail cam failures after running up to 20 trail cameras at a time, I have found I can rely on my Exodus Trail Cameras, to not let me down.
Fall and Summer Trail Cam Lands
Fall and Summer buck parcels have very unique habitat features that set them apart. It is very important to understand that not only are great hunts built on exceptional Fall parcels, but so are great Deer Herds!
Summer Trail Cam Hotspots
Summer trail cam buck habitats feature wide-open,consistent under story with heavy, shade producing canopy. Add in some small elevation change, great air-flow and adjacent Summer food sources of soybean and alfalfa fields, and the stage is set for a hotspot of potential mature buck Summer use. However, let the Summer buck hotspot whitetail hunter beware, because after the beans turn brown, the hay receives it's last cut, hunters hit the woods, antlers turn hard and the adequate Summer cover falls with leaf drop, bucks not only prefer to vacate their Summer haunts, but they nearly have to eat, bed and stay alive.
Fall Trail Cam Hotspots
What does thick Fall cover, high quality Fall food sources and diverse habitat combine to create? Highly preferred habitat that is ripe with mature buck trail cam pic opportunities. When you think of it, what combines to create great Summer habitat, is the exact opposite of what combines to create fall habitat. Drastically differing habitat needs from Summer to Fall, is exactly why most parcels of a few hundred acres or less (let alone 100 or less), are most often either Summer or Fall trail cam pic producers.
It's time to take a good hard look at your Summer trail cam pictures. Why? Because what appears great today may not be so great, and what appears to be a dismal Fall future, may be a whole lot brighter than it appears. The best whitetail parcels that I have encountered are built for Fall. Do your trail cam pictures reveal that?