While many people enjoy the summer for backyard barbeques or boating on a lake, there’s also something special about running trail cameras. Granted, this probably only appeals to hunters with some private property at their disposal…but if that’s you, then you can relate. While sitting along a field edge glassing soybeans can be enjoyable sometimes, the bugs and heat can drive you nuts too. That’s where trail cameras come in handy. Here are some of the best summer trail camera locations for you to keep tabs on velvet bucks without having to sweat in a ditch or get drained by mosquitoes.
Whitetail Bucks in Summer
First, bucks generally gather together into bachelor buck groups this time of year, which has a few advantages. First, it helps to have more eyes and ears on the lookout for predators. Second, they can start to sort through their social hierarchy over the course of the summer. Mature bucks will slowly show their dominance more as fall approaches, which lets the younger bucks learn their place. Then when they finally shed their velvet, their sparring doesn’t have to always be an all-out fight for dominance – that only occurs when two bucks are somewhat closely matched.
It’s also important to understand their daily activities this time of year. During the summer months, they are heavily focused on resting and eating as much food as possible. This is the time of year they can take advantage of the ample food resources, and put on a lot of weight to help them get through the rigors of the rut in the fall. So if possible, they will eat several times a day, and bed down somewhere nearby. As long as they’re not disturbed and the food stays plentiful, they will continue this schedule, which makes them fairly easy to pattern with a trail camera. But it’s important to note that summer trail camera locations aren’t always the best for planning a whitetail hunting strategy in the fall, as patterns are different in September and different again in November. Rather, it’s nice to get to know what kind of bucks are hanging out in the summer, so you can develop a strategy to hunt a specific buck later in the fall.
Best Summer Trail Camera Locations
To routinely capture trail camera pictures of these deer, you need to position your trail cam in the right spots. Otherwise, all you’ll get is branches and grasses waving in the wind. Here are some of the best summer trail camera locations to spy on bachelor bucks.
Agricultural Fields and Food Plots – as we mentioned, food is a deer’s primary concern right now, so this is an obvious place to catch them on camera. Lush soybean fields (especially along valley floors or riverine areas) are an absolute magnet for Midwest deer in the summer. If you have any on your farm or have access to private property where someone is growing it, you should have a trail camera there. Likewise, summer food plots are good places if they’re large and attractive enough (e.g., beans, peas, and clover can all be attractive during the summer). You can hang a trail camera along the field/food plot edge to capture deer in the plot, or you can place it where trails intersect (i.e., where deer commonly enter/exit the field).
Feeders – similarly, feeders offer a good supplemental source of food for deer in the summer, and will draw deer in for a close-up. Keep a trail camera aimed at the feeder and make sure you refill the feeder often enough so the deer don’t start to ignore it when it’s empty. You may even want to add another attractant to the feed to really entice bucks to eat there.
Mineral Stations – deer also need minerals for healthy body function and for bucks to grow antlers to their full potential. As such, established mineral sites, especially when located near a food source or cover, are easy places to catch deer activity. Bucks will often stop to consume the mineral-rich soil and vegetation before or after feeding. Position the trail camera a little lower on the tree so you can make sure you capture their head while they are bent over and licking the minerals.
Water Sources – while deer can meet a lot of their water needs from vegetation, they do still need supplemental water, particularly when it’s really hot or dry out. In these situations, natural creek beds and ponds will certainly attract deer, but so will tubs sunk into the ground to form a small watering hole. If you can find one of these features between food and cover, it should captured lots of deer activity.
Hanging a trail camera over one of these summer trail camera locations is almost guaranteed to get you some pictures of bucks this summer. As long as you don’t check your cameras too often to disturb the deer, the pictures will give you a lot of incentive for the fall hunting season.