There’s a limit until it starts to work against you.
Yes, we all love to scout for deer. As a matter of fact, a lot of hunters report that the actual act of deer scouting is what they look forward to most about hunting season. Setting up trail cameras, checking for signs, moving treestands, looking for bedding areas, it’s all what makes deer season what it is. Unfortunately, if you are doing this wrong, you are ruining your entire deer season before it even starts.
It’s a known scientific fact that big bucks do not like pressure. The more time that is spent looking for said big buck before the season starts, the less likely you will actually see him when it’s time to hunt. With this is mind, the best practice is avoid the woods altogether.
We all know moving stands is important. Well, do that stuff over the summer. If you have been hunting the same property for years, you already know where things are and how deer move around your property. Make your adjustments before deer start the transition into breeding. Otherwise, they’ll transition to your activity in the woods instead of does.
With trail cameras, it is highly recommended to only check your cameras up to two times per month, spaced about two weeks apart. If you are going out there every other day, you will slowly start to see less and less deer activity. I’ve actually transitioned away from using trail cams altogether. I know the area I hunt.
I do not hunt for antlers, but instead hunt for the experience and the venison. When a buck approaches that is outside the ears and within distance, I try to take it. End of story. Trail cams simply just work against the hunter in so many situations. Much to the dismay of the financial side of the hunting industry, I would really limit the use of these.
With that said, trail cams are very common practice. Sure, have them set up, check them in July, August, and September, but when October rolls around, only check them on the way back from your stand to your truck, then take them down. The less temptation you have to run around your hunting area to pull a card, the better.
DO NOT drive an ATV on your land to check your cameras or drive to a hunting spot. That is all.
I’ve known several hunters that love to walk their woods all summer and fall long walking deer trails and looking for signs. That is a terrible idea. With Google Earth, you can see everything you need to see to act accordingly. The more time you spend walking in the woods, the fewer deer you are going to see. Set your stands up on open fields or on the edge of the woods between water, food, and bedding areas. If you know of an area where does like to bed, set one up downwind of them. You aren’t going to accomplish much of anything walking around a woods. Trying to outthink nature is hard business. Sticking to what works is much easier.