Trail Cameras

Nocturnal Trail Cam Pics: How To Avoid

Nocturnal trail cam pics of giant bucks are hard to avoid; or are they? The #1 cause of nocturnal buck movement is hunting pressure, so by removing the pressure you can increase the number of daytime pictures, right? Well, kind of. A combination of hunting and habitat practices need to take place in order to decrease the amount of nocturnal trail cam pics on the lands that you hunt.

*If you like learning all that you can about mature buck hunting strategies, make sure that you check out my"Whitetail Success By Design"series of books.

When it comes to avoiding nocturnal mature buck movement, it pays to keep in mind that mature bucks need to eat, just like the rest of the herd. Whitetails feed 5 times a day, and even a reclusive old buck is no exception. And just like the rest of the herd, a Monarch's #1 mealtime is his afternoon time slot, when deer leave their bedding areas to consume large quantities in their preferred evening destination food sources.

nocturnal trail cam pics

*Are there some bucks that rarely move during the daylight? To find out, make sure to read,"The Myth Of Nocturnal Bucks".

Top 10 Ways To Avoid Nocturnal Trail Cam Pics

Although hunting pressure may be the biggest culprit of nocturnal buck movements, it comes in many forms! And when you combine hunting pressure with habitat deficiencies, you can create an environment where nocturnal trail cam pics are most likely the norm, and not the exception.

Here are the top 10 ways to reduce nocturnal trail cam pics:

10. Hunter Scent Trails

Mature whitetails can be turned off by our human stench several hours after we enter or exit a stand location. How clean your boots and legs are, as well as what you brush up against or touch on the way in or out, most likely spooks more deer long after our hunt, than during the hunt.

9. IR Pic and Video Mode

Thankfully, all of the major trail cam companies have produced complete lines of "blackout" and "no flash" trail cams. I saw a recent article including video footage of a buck reacting negatively to an IR cam set to video mode, while then proclaiming that trailcams are bad for hunting. However the trail cam wasn't the problem! In fact, the buck would have never even seen the camera or reacted negatively if it weren't for the 50 glowing red eyes of the IR.

8. Noisy Treestand Access

If your clothing or gear squeaks, rattles, rips, snaps or zips...I would personally get rid of it, or fix it. But if your treestand does the same? Your hunt will often be over before it even begins. If a person could stand 50 yards away and easily listen to your access, just imagine how far away a deer could hear you...100 yards, 150 yards, 200 yards? Whatever the distance, it is too far.

nocturnal trail cam pics

*My Family Traditions Treestandsare dead quiet, are yours? Among other things, I will not hunt in a stand that makes any noise at all. To help you pick a great treestand, try reading "All Day Treestand Comfort".

7. Lack Of Quality Bedding Area

Many habitats are "adequate" when it comes to being able to hide and hold a quality deer herd. Hinge cutting and other timber cuttings can drastically insulate your hunting movements as well as to define exactly where deer bed and travel on your land. The more you define where deer bed and travel, the more that you can define how, where and why that you hunt.

6. Poor Stand Position

Scent control and non invasive hunting tactics begins with where your stand is placed, and not in a scent reducing closet or spray bottle. You can't overcome the negative effects of sitting in the middle of your deer woods by entering early, staying late, and "eliminating" your scent. That tactic may create 1 good sit (maybe), but it will surely increase your nocturnal trail cam pics over time.

5. Undisciplined Trail Cam Access

If you are already committed to a stand location and access route, avoid the temptation of rotating your SD cards prematurely. Instead, plan trail cam locations and access routes that allow you to change cards on the way to or from your hunting activities, as well as during the middle of the day within deerless locations.

nocturnal trail cam oics

*I rely on my Moultrie trail cams to not spook deer, as shown by my legs in the upper left of this picture! To read more about trail cam placement strategies, check out "Advanced Trail Cam Location Strategies".

4. Poor Condition Hunting

Mature buck hunting isn't about trying to learn how to hunt during every condition, no different than hitting a baseball is about trying to learn how to hit every pitch. Just like in maintaining an all-star worthy batting average, mature buck hunting has to do with choosing the right time to take a swing for an old recluse. By laying off poor condition days, the local mature buck herd will be lulled into a pattern of daytime use that you can take advantage of when the conditions are optimum.

3. Lack of An Afternoon Food Source

You can have a great deer parcel without great cover, but you can't have a great deer parcel without the ability to control a deer herd's preferred movement to a great afternoon food source.

2. Over Hunting

"Less is More" when it comes to the number of sits vs. mature buck opportunity. Of course you have to actually enter the woods to kill a mature buck, but there is a sweet spot of balance that you need to find. A given parcel has a "perfect" number of sits that will yield the optimum potential for mature buck harvest. Any less than that # will create too little opportunity, and anymore than that # will be too much hunting pressure for the land. The best way that I have found to hit the sweet spot of balance every single time, is by only hunting when the conditions of weather are at their best. That means hunting in an around the various cold fronts that sweep through each and every hunting season. This will give you 2-3 quality sits every 7-10 days; which will equal the perfect balance for most parcels.

nocturnal trail cam pics

*How you access your stand locations in relation to your food plots can make or break your season. To make sure that you aren't placing too much pressure on your plots, try reading "10 Reasons To Never Hunt A Food Plot".

1. Food Plot Stands

After creating the perfect sea of green to attract a high number of deer; do your best to keep from spooking the deer off of that perfect sea of green. A food plot is never a perfect planting if it increases the number of deer/human encounters instead of decreasing hunting pressure. If your mature buck pictures are exploding, but they are all in the middle of the night? The first place to look to for a remedy, are often stand locations alongside food plots.


Nocturnal trail cam pics are created, not captured. What that means is that we as hunters or landowners, have a direct influence on whether we have a high number of nocturnal buck movements, or not.

*Make sure to check out my whitetail book series to help you find public or private land mature bucks this Fall, including "Whitetail Success By Design"and "Food Plot Success By Design"

On my own hunting parcels as well as the lands of many of my dedicated clients, it is common to capture several times more daylight mature buck pictures, than night time. Are your hunting and habitat practices increasing or decreasing nocturnal trail cam pics? The choice is yours.


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