The fall transition is a confusing time for a lot of hunters. They’ve been used to getting 1,000’s of pictures per camera weekly and seeing lots of far-from-bashful velvet bucks to suddenly having cameras go dry. What’s happened?
The deer haven’t vanished into thin air, although it may seem that way. Once velvet sheds, which typically starts during the last week of August and continues into early September, the bucks begin to break up and the pecking order gets established. Once you start seeing rubs and even some mild scraping activity, it’s time to move the cameras.
While this phase of the pre-rut certainly plays a role in where the deer are setting up shop in early fall, a food transition is the largest culprit as to why they’ve vanished.
My first adjustment is with my cameras. I’ll place most of them overlooking larger community scrapes or along an origin corner in a food source. In other words, after numerous trails have converged into one, they typically dump into a destination food source. This happens to be where the highest concentration of early season rubs will occur. Place a camera here.
The food shift has taken place. The soybeans have begun to turn yellow and the oak mast is falling like rain; factor in shorter days and heightened testosterone and you have the pre-rut. The deer will still hit green fields, but the brighter the soybeans the less activity you’ll see in them. Look to bedding areas and high-traffic travel corridors. The bulk of activity is taking place in the timber.
Move your cameras and watch different food sources as opposed to peak summer and you’ll find the deer. Anticipate this change and you won’t have a hiccup in trail-camera activity. The deer are still there, just adapting to the rut’s onset. It’s almost time…