Over the last few years, my end-of-the-year regimen has become routine. Once the hunting season has drawn to a close, like clockwork, I return to my hunting grounds to take down my Down & Out Warrior Blind and my Hawk hang-on and ladder stands to prevent any weathering or damage that could occur to the seats and straps.
It used to be typical after my stands and blinds had been removed for the season, to shift my focus to predator hunting and the upcoming spring turkey season. That is until I heard another hunter announce that his preparation for the next hunting season began the day after the current season ended, meaning that his work and preparation never stopped. Once I began putting more effort into the entire year, instead of waiting until mid to late summer before I started thinking about deer again, I found my success and overall knowledge of hunting improved.
When trying to manage land and a deer herd, there is always something to do. One could make habitat improvements, plant early-season food plots, and the list goes on. However, one task that has provided its fair share of benefits is keeping my game cameras running for several weeks after the season ends. Below are three reasons hunters should keep their cameras running after the season.
Post Season Inventory
One of the most significant reasons for keeping multiple game cameras in place post-deer season is to take inventory of the deer herd and record which bucks made it through the season. On several occasions, many of the bucks who left the area earlier in the year or were pressured out of the area during the peak of hunting season will return to the area to try to gain a few pounds to help them through the winter. I often begin my supplemental feeding efforts days after the season ends. After the feed has been placed, I set up my Wildgame Innovations Wraith 2.0 Camera a few feet away; then, I leave the area for several weeks before returning.
By obtaining an accurate count of what bucks survived the year, hunters can get a head start on their hitlist for the upcoming season. On multiple occasions, I have also had bucks that I had never encountered before showing up at the feed sites during this portion of the winter. When they decide to make an appearance, I make mental notes and focus my prep work on keeping the bucks I have and attracting neighboring deer for the upcoming year.
Hunters should keep cellular cameras to monitor when bucks begin shedding their antlers. When the hunting season is still in progress, many hunters have camera sites where most of the bucks spend time. Instead of taking these cameras down post-season, leave them up as these areas are ideal for a cellular camera, such as the Wildgame Innovations Encounter 2.0, due to bucks grouping back up.
When a cellular camera is in place, the hunter will have a more accurate time frame of when they need to start looking for sheds. By knowing precisely when bucks drop their antlers, hunters can avoid making multiple trips to search the ground when it may not be the right time. Fewer visits to the area can also have more bucks coming into the location because they are not being spooked by hunters who are stomping around the area in search of sheds. Instead, wait until pictures of bucks with no antlers show up, then begin the search. The chances of finding more antlers in one specific area will increase dramatically.
Monitor Feed And Minerals
One of my favorite post-season camera setups includes using my camera over an area where I have supplemental feed and minerals in the same picture frame.
With feed and minerals in place, I can accurately monitor what deer want and need. By having cellular cameras in place, I know when deer are low on feed and need more. The more critical factor is when suddenly, a week or two period will begin when most deer use the minerals. When this period occurs, I ensure I have multiple mineral sites for deer to consume.
This higher mineral consumption typically occurs during January or February and can be one of the most crucial times for bucks to ingest these much-needed minerals. Bucks consuming minerals during this period can vastly restore what their bodies lost during the rut and fall season, which can do wonders for them. The faster the recovery rate, the less stress on their bodies, which equals better antler growth the following year.