How to Run a Rapid Herd Survey

If you are like me, free time is a limiting resource in your life. I work anywhere from 40-60 hours per week depending on the time of year, which leaves me little time to get out to my hunting property that is several hours from where I live. In this situation, I don’t have the luxury of running a long trail camera survey. A typical representative herd survey will run for 2 weeks and include several visits to each site to re-supply feed. I want to be able to set up the survey one weekend, and within 1 week I want all the bucks using that property on camera. I recently talked to Jared Lurk of Drury Outdoors and he told me that on his farm, he can typically get all of his bucks on camera within 30 hours of putting out Ani-Logics Supplement (all photos courtesy of Jared Lurk). That just goes to show the incredible attraction power of our Supplement. If you don’t feel like carrying a 50 lb. bag very far for your survey, you can also use our 6# Braggin Rights attractants, but I warn you, those will be completely consumed in just a couple days. I have tried surveys using food plots and water sources, but it usually takes a month or more to get all the bucks on camera at these locations.

Before I head to the woods, I look at the size of the property I’m trying to survey to determine how many camera sites I will need. A good rule of thumb is to have 1 camera per 80 acres. In more open landscapes you can get away with fewer cameras because deer tend to range more in those landscapes. The opposite is true for deer living in dense forested landscapes. In those areas you may need 1 camera per 40 acres to get enough coverage to encompass every buck’s summer range. As for when to do the survey, I like the time frame of August to September. The bucks are almost fully grown and the fawns are with the does, so you can get an accurate view of the recruitment from this spring.

Now that I have the number of cameras, I look at how I will position those cameras. I like to face the camera either North or South so I avoid sun glare in the mornings and evenings. I don’t want to disturb the deer in the area, so I stay away from bedding areas. I also want to put cameras where I can easily drive within a couple hundred yards to pull the SD card. Using feed allows me to put cameras in areas that are not exactly “grand central station” for natural deer activity, but also doesn’t force deer to walk miles from where they feel comfortable to get a bite to eat. Another tip is to make sure a buck standing at the site will still be in frame, both with his head up and with his head down.

I know that it is summertime and it is hot, but try to check you cameras during mid-day. All the deer will be bedded down and with the foliage still on the trees, you can slip in and pull cards without alerting a lot of deer. Now that you have picked your spots, it’s time to set up each site. I like to use one 50 # bag of Supplement Gold per site. I pour it out in an “S” shape so that when a buck feeds on the pile he will work his way from one end to the other and I will get several different pictures of his antlers. It’s always a good idea to be as scent free as possible so you don’t alert deer of human presence in the area.

After a week, pull the camera cards and the real fun begins! I like to use the QDMA camera survey form to determine vital herd statistics such as buck to doe ratio and herd density. It takes a bit of practice, but once you figure it all out it is a wonderful tool for monitoring your herd. I know their directions call for a 10 or 14 day survey, but they are assuming you are putting out just plain corn. With Ani-Logics™, we can get the same results in half the time.

-Tim Neuman, Wildlife Biologist

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