-By Rich Miller
As I work trade shows, I am always getting asked the same question about deer feeders and hear the same comment about scouting cameras: “How long will it take for deer to start using my feeders?” and “The flash on my camera spooked the deer”.
Let’s start with the deer feeder question. I normally try to put my feeders in areas I know deer are using. I like to place them on the edge of a food plot or a field where they are already feeding. This way it doesn’t take deer near as long to begin eating from the feeders. Does and fawns are usually the first deer to start. It takes time for deer to realize that the feeder is a constant food source. Whether you are talking about food plots or feeders, the longer they are out the better they get. The young deer that use them the first year will learn the feeders are a food source that they can depend on. They will raise there fawns there, and then four or five years down the road you will have four- or five-year-old deer at your feeders and food plots. Another advantage to having these constant food sources that deer can rely on is that they will stay close to the area and not roam great distances searching for food. So hopefully this will keep them out of the road away from vehicles, and in front of your deer stand.
As for the camera comments, personally I don’t think that a flash trail camera will spook deer. Yes, I do think deer notice the flash, but they are not spooked by it. If you have a deer in the pictures with its tail raised and it is running away, that deer was spooked and running before the pictures was taken. A deer is fast, but it is not fast enough to run from the time the flash goes off and before the picture is taken. The deer was running by and the camera was fast enough to get his picture. A related comment I hear is, “I got a picture of a big buck and he never came back. I have had the same thing happen with my cameras whether it was with a flash or infrared scouting camera. I believe the buck in the picture was just passing through, he doesn’t live on the property. This normally takes place more from the middle of October until bucks lose their horns (between late February and early March). These bucks are cruising looking for does that have not been breed, or they have been run off from their home range and they are looking for a new home. I prefer to use a flash scouting camera on my feeders because I like the color photos at night. I use infrared game cameras next to property lines or roads where I am worried about another person seeing the flash. I really don’t have a favorite between the two because they will both perform well under any circumstance.
This is my fifth straight year of having my Game Spy cameras out in the field. A lot of deer I get pictures of I never see in person, but then there are those that I get hundreds of pictures of that I name and watch grow through the years. It is amazing that you can tell the same deer year after year even though their rack changes. The anticipation of checking my scouting cameras is getting to be as much fun as hunting (well, ok, maybe not that much fun). I have several buddies run their cameras year round also and we are always sending pictures back and forth of what we are capturing. I can’t say that having my cameras out has directly helped me kill bigger deer, but indirectly they will give you more confidence to stay on the stand longer. Game cameras give you proof of what is walking around on your property. As we all know, the more time in the stand equals a better chance of seeing the deer you are after.