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Summer Deer Scout: Set Your Trail Cams Now

trail camera bach group deanThis is the weekend to go to the beach or pool, do a little fishing or hiking, play golf, grill out…

And if you’re serious about your hunting, drive to your spot, lather on the tick and bug repellent, set some cameras and find some bucks to hunt in 3 or 4 months.

I’ve had a few cameras out for a while, but now around July 4th is when I start my recon in earnest. Velvet antlers are up and growing full bore; when you get an image of a buck with potential, you’ll know it and can start tracking and patterning his movements.

One day this weekend I’ll set 2 cameras on 2 half-acre clover plots hidden back in the Virginia woods. I’ll put 2 or 3 more cams on larger plots, but not aiming out into the middle of the fields. Rather, I’ll set these 20 or 30 yards back in the thickets that rim the edges, on or near deer trails. Secluded, thick pockets and bottlenecks like this are where you’re apt of get close images of a nice velvet buck working the area.

I’ll wind up by hitting a couple of creek bottoms and beaver pond edges where I’ve seen bucks moving before, and set a couple more cams on trails and water crossings there. As summer deepens, lazy bucks spend time hanging out in low-lying areas where it’s cool and shady and a jungle of cover.

If you set your cams in the right spot this weekend, you can find out not only the fields or plots where a big deer is feeding, but also where he’s bedding by the water. Although that intel will indicate his summer habits, he will still be on that pattern when bow season opens, and in all likelihood hanging nearby later in the fall.

Recently I read a QDMA article on setting trail cameras. Good info, and two tips jumped out at me.

One, make sure your cameras do not face directly east or west, into a sunrise or sunset, to prevent white-out or silhouette images from the summer sun’s intense glare. Point your cameras north whenever possible.

trail camera setting up.jpg compressed

Two, a new thing to try: Set cameras as high as your head and tilt them slightly downward. All of us set cams like the guy in the picture above s doing, but the point this hunter/writer makes is that deer are less likely to notice (and perhaps then avoid) cameras placed 6 feet or more off the ground.

Have a great weekend and remember to honor our troops for their service and for allowing us to live large and free.

NOTE ON BUCK PHOTO ABOVE: The gang of 6 bachelors was taken by blogger Dean Weimer a few years ago and is one of my all-time favorite summer images. In this post, I mentioned that now you can easily tell the bucks with good rack potential…this illustrates that to a tee.

Summer 2016 Trail Cam Bucks

danny 1

Danny sent this image with the message, “First buck with potential this year.”

Yes, and he’s got a good 6 weeks to grow more bone. Anxious to see how that split brow ends up.

danny 2Send me your camera images as you get them so we can share and get fired up for the season. I’ll keep the location of the bucks your secret, I promise.

Flying with Guns: Best Hard-Side Travel Cases

mike gun caseYou’ve heard that airline baggage handlers are gorillas that throw bags and gun cases around, but in my experience that is not the case. I peek out the plane window whenever I can and watch those guys, and for the most part they are responsible with peoples’ bags.

Now, I understand that some people flying with guns have horror stories, and some of those have been posted here on the blog. But I’ve been lucky with my rifles over the last 30 years, and yes, I knock on wood.

I’ve always used a top-quality hard case.

With all those miles you fly and connections, plus the last leg of a journey to and from your destination, your case (and guns and scopes inside) will be subject to a lot of thumping, rattling and shimmying in the belly of airplanes, bed of trucks, boats, etc. Don’t skimp on a hard-sided case!

BEST TIP: Buy a quality hard case that will hold 2 rifles. Even if you don’t carry a back-up rifle, the case will be large enough to pack your binoculars, 2 boxes of ammo, shooting stick and some other stuff, which saves you room and weight in your other bag. Definitely buy a case with wheels that you can roll easily through the airport (all the best cases nowadays come with wheels).

Here are 2 great choices, both available from Cabela’s:

Pelican Double Rifle Travel Vault: This is one of the best hard cases I have ever used, and the one I carry now. These are the same type cases that traveling military and professional photographers use (on a typical BIG DEER TV shoot our cameramen might carry 6-8 Pelican cases). The exterior is made of polypropylene copolymer material that is fairly lightweight but thick, tough and durable. Available in black or desert tan, the latter my favorite.


Inside, the open-cell core foam and solid-wall construction absorb shock to protect your guns and optics and their zero. Easy-open latches combine a C-clamp with a secondary action that works like a pry bar so they lock tight but release with just a light pull. You can latch on 4 locks.

Case is 53 inches long, and can be checked as your second bag with no additional oversize fee (other than the customary second-bag fee). Empty, the case weighs 26 pounds; with two 8-pound rifles it still comes in well under the airlines’ allotted 50 pounds a bag.

I am not the only one who has had good luck with this Pelican case. In more than 100 Cabela’s customer reviews, it got 5 out of 5 stars. Cost is around $240; this case will last you for many years, probably forever.

SKB iSeries 5014 Double Rifle/Bow Case: This one is a no-brainer if you sometimes take guns and sometimes bows on a plane. The case holds 2 bows or 2 rifles or a bow/rifle combination that you stack inside. The high-density polyurethane shell closes tightly and is rugged. It has 4 trigger-release latches with TSA-approved locks, and 4 more holes along the case for your private locks.

skb case

Interior has thick foam and Velcro straps for securing bow limbs, something I have always liked in a case. This case is big enough for the biggest travel job, but still a good size to handle and roll (54 inches long and 26 pounds empty). So again, no oversize excess fee.

While I have not used this particular new case, I have used several similar SKB cases with great results and cannot imagine that the iSeries 5014 is not a quality one. This case retails for $280 and comes with a limited lifetime warranty that covers up to $1,500 in damage. Green, black or tan.

Once you’ve got your case, read our ultimate guide to flying with guns before you take off.


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