TRAIL CAMERAS: Where are the best setups in the summer months & why?

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Southern Iowa is composed of agricultural land (tillable dirt), pasture, river/creek bottoms, swamps, CRP/brush, and hardwoods. Every farm that we have has as least two of these, if not three of these characteristics. It is diverse. It has taken me a long time to understand land and how whitetails use it for their benefit: feeding, bedding, sanctuary, and travel to/from. The only way that I can find mature bucks in the summer months is to get my trail cameras out, usually accompanied by mineral (Rackology LLC - check them out!) through the month of July (coming out or being removed in August).

For this post, I wanted to try and explain (if even possible) how to pick the right setup for your farm to set out and monitor deer movement with your trail cameras. I am using aerial maps from farms that I have personally hunted for this post. Take a look at my preferred methods and ideology. Let me know your thoughts afterwards. Thanks guys!


(North is the top of the photo)

This farm is between 160 acres in southern Iowa. The woods are composed of hardwoods like walnut & various types of oak along with the occasional cedar patch (less than 1 acre in size), hedge apple tree and locust tree. It is relatively flat except for the NE quarter which starts to slope down to the north and northeast. There are numerous drain creeks that start on the south in the southernmost tips of the fingers and they all run north eventually coming together as one creek near the property line (flowing North as it is going downhill that direction). The surround tillable dirt on this farm is either 100% corn or 100% beans. For reference, we will say soybeans. Neighbors have tillable as well, same year rotation so beans, and the farm to the ENE has overgrown pasture but not tall enough for year-round bedding (just green summer months).

What is the most logical fact that you can come up with regarding this farm and where you think deer can travel to/from?...

... I would say the farm is like a "pit stop" in the neighborhood as deer come down from the north which is a big river bottom running primarily east & west, or from the east and west occasionally in a circular rotation through the neighborhood (either clockwise or counterclockwise), and usually go back up to the north/northeast across the fence while still in the timber or close to it. So, they come in and head out in almost the same general direction. The aerial photo above doesn't show this, but there is ZERO habitat to the south of our farm... straight tillable acres, probably 1000 acres or so at a minimum.

If you had three trail cameras to use on this farm, where would you put them and why?

1) I know that the deer are heading to the north/northeast, so I want to see what deer are leaving my property on a specific side of the creek that is running from my farm to the neighbors. This also means they could browse and feed in/along the crop fields on the east half of the farm (especially there northern/lower edge). This will also allow me to compare and contrast with the bucks I get down at #3 that reached the far southern end of our woods.

2) Like #1, except we are on the other side of the creek that houses more timber area. This will allow us to compare with #3 bucks captured as well. With #2 and #1, we are splitting the creek to figure out pinpointed travel patterns & trails.

3) Without repeating myself on the "pit stop" ideology, this is the back corner booth. Bucks can bed here while still having a North wind blow their scent into the fields to the S, while smelling other bucks coming into the farm from the north. I want to know what bucks I capture here are also heading north to my other two camera traps. Will they scoot out to the neighbors to the west or the east, a method without cover and rather danger with open tillable ground?