Do Summer Trail Cameras Hurt More Than Help?

The last few years we ask this question, do trail cams in summer help or hurt us? When it comes to targeting a certain buck or new area. We have compelled data for the past three years and have came up with a process that works for us. All our data has came from Illinois, where no baiting is aloud. Making these pics more based on movement than something drawing them to a location. These cams were ran on public and private land.

Lets break down what we found out.

The Negatives.

1. Most of our bucks leave.

There isn’t much worse than getting hyped over a giant buck then all of a sudden they disappear. Most times we start to make a early season plan. Then realize it was a huge waste of time. So unless we have history with a buck we don’t use summer pics to plan hunts at all. With that being said, we have found if we get a pick after first week of Sept. the bucks will normally stay around.

2. We are bumping deer pulling these cards.

Multiple times when we have went to pull cams we would see that white tail running in the timber. Do we know exactly what deer it is? NO, but a big buck wont take to many bumps from a certain area to move on. With us hunting very small hunting properties. It doesn’t take much till there gone. Secondly, It is always incredible hot when pulling these cams. Leaving a huge amount of scent in the area and on the cam.

3. Green Up

The most annoying thing when it comes to trail cams. Other than leaving them on setup… We have all been there. Is the grass, twig, or leaves that grow up in front of your cams. You set it up perfect, you think. Then you get a 1000 pics of grass blowing in the wind or a tree branch moving.

4. The deer will be doing something completely different by the time we hunt them.

With our season starting on Oct.1st. The beans will be yellow, the bucks wont be in bachelor groups and the foulage will completely change. If there is a big acorn crop the bucks can change there patterns a drastic amount. Making ever buck change drastically.

The Positives

So now that I have got through the negatives lets talk positive.

1. You get cool pictures / see antler growth.

Its hard to beat giant velvet buck pics. They just do something to you, that gets you pumped to put the work into season.

2. You know there is deer in the area.

This may be strange to some people, but I run cams in odd ball places to just see if there is any deer there. Running a summer cam is a great way to do this. I have found giant bucks in little pieces of timber doing this. Instead of wasting a hunt there trying to find out.

3. You can scout new areas with little pressure.

You might loose a buck to fall pattern but you get to see how he moved through there during summer. How he used a trail, direction ect. This could be incredible information for in season use.

4. Late Season/ Sheds

This also may seem weird for some but a lot of the bucks we had in the summer, returned in the winter. If you can catch this pattern you may be able to see what he likes in the summer and make a plan.


After these 3 years we still run summer cams. We just tweaked how we do it. Once doing that our success has improved.

  1. We don’t check them. We let cams hang from when there put up until its close to season. Besides the first check to make sure cam is working and taking pics. We normally do that at about 2 weeks. Its a terrible day when you let a cam soak for months and it never worked.
  2. We prepare for green up. If possible we weed eat the grass in the area, cut all limbs or utilize sick & Picks to get above green up.
  3. We run mobile cams. Mobile cams are a great way to satisfy the itch of checking cams. That time of the year we run one update a day. Letting us know what cam through day by day.
  4. We don’t get our hopes up. Just cause you got a pick of a buck in the area. That doesn’t mean he will be there during season.

End Result

Run the cams and find out what works for you. If you have any tips or tactics you would like to share. Or have a different way, don’t be afraid to comment. We love to learn and bounce ideas back and forth with other hunters.

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