Jon Kocan

Jon Kocan

Fall is closer than you think in the local deer woods, and there’s no better time to prepare for the season than now.

I set a string of trail cameras in the woods a few weeks ago. It’s something I do every year to see how many fawns have been born and maybe get a few pictures of bucks, too. My deer season starts in mid July, and I’d be willing to bet I’m not the only one.

I probably shouldn’t admit how much time I spend gathering, viewing and sorting trail camera pictures. It’s one of my favorite hobbies and currently amounts to 1.7 TB of pictures and videos on an external hard drive, and who know how much time and gas.

Trail cameras have become a tradition just like hunting. To have an eye in the woods when you weren’t there was every hunter's dream when I was a kid. Now I can and the first goal each summer is the youngest members of the deer herd.

The most important information that trail cameras provide during the summer is the number of fawns that are born. Some will disperse and some will stay close to home, but they provide good indication each year of recruitment to the local herd.

Sure, you want to have tons of pictures of massive bucks. The fact is local bucks that frequent camera locations – which are set up to capture tons of pictures in the summer – bully does causing them not to bring their fawns near very often.

My first week of pictures did a great job of capturing a snapshot of the fawn crop. It was the same in every location – does only had single fawns. My initial reaction is that it’s early and does that have twins have more work to do to get them traveling and covering ground. The cameras are sure to bring more details in the weeks to come.

There were no bucks on camera in the first week, but it’s the middle of summer. The important thing is to remember that velvet could be shed in a month and then the daily patterns of local bucks will begin to slowly change.

I have a ton of work to do in the next few months. By the time velvet is cast away I hope to have a few new stands hung, mowing done and any planting that I can get in. Two months can go by quickly, but October will be here before you know it.

Once again, my cameras are out to keep an eye on the deer woods when I can’t be there. For the next few months the excitement will build each time a card is swapped and new pictures reveal new details.

The next few months will see fawns lose their spots, bucks shed the velvet from their antlers and a new year of deer hunting open in our state. It’s time to get ready.

Jon Kocan is the Stillwater News Press outdoors writer and a longtime hunter. He can be reached at jkocan@stwnewspress.com.