Summer is an exciting time of year in the whitetail woods as bucks are piling on the inches, fawns are learning the ropes, and everyone is having a big old party in the soybean field. Perhaps the best thing about summer is the relative ease of which you can find the bucks you’ll likely be chasing during the fall.
With that said, here’s a Mapping Whitetails Tip: locate soybean fields, water bodies, and fruit trees, and mark them on a map to find out where you should be hanging trail cams or spending your evenings glassing. It’s one thing to know where these features are, it’s another to mark them on a map so you gain a visual understanding on how they may effect deer movement.
Video: SCOUTING FOR SUMMER BUCKS
Take a look at the following map (randomly chosen from Google Earth): It happens to be somewhere in Illinois and actually looks like one heck of big buck producer. I made a fake property boarder (red), color coded the ag fields (green-beans, red-corn), and water bodies (blue), as well as identified surrounding ag fields with what is planted this year. Again, this is all hypothetical, but it represents an actual landscape pretty closely. Here’s the scoop, it’s roughly 200 acres and I only have two trail cameras at my disposal, where should I hang them?
I chose the Camera #1 location for the following reasons:
It’s over a soybean field
It’s easy to check without spooking deer. Come from the trail behind and pop through the treeline. Get in and get out!
It’s in the corner where the two large blocks of cover converge closest to the beans.
It’s on the edge closest to a small pond, which may have them eat for a while and then filter down the edge to get a drink.
It’s fairly centrally located.
Facing directly south will eliminate the chance of direct sun interfering with photos.
I chose the Camera #2 location for the following reasons:
It’s overlooking a soybean field
It’s the more secluded part of the field.
It’s fairly easy to check without spooking deer if you come in off the road from the north during midday.
It’s close to an inside corner which deer typically like to use while entering a field.
Facing due north prevents sun interference with the camera.
I expect a decent amount of deer to come from the north out of the CRP field.
It’s been my experience that one can never have enough trail cameras. Trust me when I say I’m a budget hunter. Sometimes you just can’t cover the entire property and you have to choose the best spots and use other methods to find the bucks. So, I’ve got the two cams out and you’re probably wondering what the yellow line is. That’s my evening glassing route. You’ll see far more deer driving and glassing soybean fields than what your trail cam will likely capture. Just remember, you have moving eyes capable of magnification with the aid of binoculars or a spotting scope. Your trail cam has a stationary eye with the range of about 15 yards. Also, a huge advantage of evening drives with the binos is that you can scout neighboring fields. Just because they aren’t feeding on your property doesn’t mean they aren’t using it or won’t be there once the food starts to disappear. I typically like to scout a core area of roughly 2 square miles or 1,280 acres to get a good understanding of what may end up running by during the rut.
Now it’s your turn!
Here’s a new property with the borders and fields identified. You’ve got two trail cameras for roughly 150 acres, where would you hang them? COMMENT BELOW
There are 10 choices to choose from (red pins). There may be multiple decent spots, but two of them are better than the rest. I’ll share my answers below.
Here’s my best answer based upon what I can see from the Google Earth aerial:
In my opinion, the way this property lays out made it a bit more challenging to find two standout locations to place trail cameras compared to the example photo. However, one spot should clearly stick out and that’s pin #4.
I chose #4 for the following reasons:
- It’s overlooking a soybean field.
- It’s right next to a small pond.
- It’s centrally located and with only 2 cameras, you want the most bang for your buck.
- Fairly easy access, no need to disturb bedding areas in order to check it.
- You can’t see what’s going on in the field from the road during evening scouting missions.
The next trail camera location was a bit more challenging as I wanted to hang it over soybeans, but also wanted a good representation of the entire property. Therefore, I opted to hang it at station #3.
I chose #3 for the following reasons:
- Place over a water source surrounded by summer bedding habitat (corn).
- It covers more of the eastern side of the property.
- It’s easy and safe to check.
Now if you’re anything like me, sometimes it’s easy to get analysis paralysis while you’re looking at maps when it comes to hunting decisions. Thus, it’s often by process of elimination as to how I come to my final decisions.
In this case, I didn’t choose the following for the reasons below:
#1 – I like this spot, but it’s just too risky to be checking all summer. It’s got everything, a food plot, water hole, and is completely surrounded by bedding area (CRP field). It’s probably one of the best hunting spots on the farm, which is exactly why I don’t want to mess it up by checking trail cameras.
#2 – While alfalfa is king in the western whitetail states, it’s kind of blah when surrounded by luscious soybean fields. Again, if that’s a lone oak in the field, it may be a decent tree to hunt during October, but for now, you want your trail cameras in the best areas.
#5 – Aside from deer possibly using it as a travel corridor between bean fields, it’s kind of a lackluster location in comparison to the others.
#6 – Too hard and too risky to be checking during the summer, or any time of year for that matter.
#7 – A great rut stand, but not the best trail camera location. Again, difficult to check and nothing to concentrate deer in that area during the summer.
#8 – This is probably where I’d put a third camera if I had one – beans, water, and easy to check. However, you should get a good idea of the bucks using this field by glassing out of your truck from the road during the last hour of daylight.
#9 – Some new bucks may potentially show up in this area, but it’s just too hard/risky to be checking all summer. Certainly hunt that corner during the fall when it’s safe to do so.
#10 – Again, alfalfa is okay, but it’s no soybean. Take the time to drive by this field during the evening.
#11 – CHECK OUT THE NEXT MAPPING WHITETAILS TIP BELOW!