Brad and I are in the first week of prebaiting for our annual camera survey. “Prebaiting” simply means we place an attractant (we use Trophy Rock and shelled corn where legal) to attract deer to a specific location that will allow quality images of deer to be captured. It’s critical to do the prebaiting stage of a camera survey to ensure the locations will be readily used by deer, that the images collected will allow each individual buck to be identified (no obstructions, glare, etc.) and that each camera is working properly. We like to begin the prebaiting no later than the last part of July so the 14 day survey can be concluded by August 15th (with exceptions in South Florida) so the bucks are still in bachelor groups and daily activity patterns are very routine.
By timing the survey during this stage of bucks’ annual behavior cycle, bucks are very tolerant of each other and don’t actively attempt to exclude each other from the bait site. In addition, the regularity of their travel patterns allows for bucks to be easily recognized as they tend to use only one or two bait stations compared to a trend of using multiple bait stations once their hormones change and they express aggression toward other bucks.
Timing of a camera survey probably impacts the accuracy as much as any other aspect of the survey. If it is started too early, the antlers may not be developed enough to allow for individual bucks to be easily identified. If the survey is started to late, the bucks are traveling more which makes it harder to repeatedly identify individual bucks. Remember that location data from a camera survey may or may not provide good stand location information. It provides the age and size of bucks in the neighborhood, not which part of the neighborhood they will be using come deer season.
Growing Deer together,