Trail cameras are wonderful inventions for hunters to inventory their deer herd over the summer or see how big the residual bucks have grown from previous years. But overuse and poor retrieval methods can be detrimental, even during the summer when hunting season is nowhere close to open.

Deer are less spooky during the summer than any other time, but even mature deer will keep their guard up and change their travel patterns if too much unnatural disturbance interferes with their daily movements. 

The best trail cameras that provide the least disturbances are the ones that transmit images through cellular networks. However, most hunters are still using cameras that must be manually checked to retrieve image data. For the least impact on deer’s natural patterns hunters should retrieve the camera’s SD cards at times when deer are least likely to be using the area. The trail camera’s time stamps will tell the hunter when the best times are to retrieve the cameras.  

Trail cameras should be checked as little as possible or moved around frequently to new areas to prevent excessive disturbances in the areas. Generally, deer are on a solid pattern this time of year, hitting food, water and bedding areas on a schedule. A few weeks of footage in one spot should be adequate to determine what animals are using these trails and when they are using these pathways.

Trail cameras should be checked using the same scent-control tactics hunters use during the season. Rubber boots, latex gloves and an overall attention to human scent will help reduce impacts and provide the lightest footprint as possible. 

Scent-control should be important any time deer hunters enter the woods to work on stands, and especially during surveillance sessions when natural travel patterns are pursued.