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% of bucks on cameras?? #8355714 08/18/21 09:16 PM
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With all the pics being posted, it got me thinking about how many of the bucks we actually see on game cameras.
Lets assume an average number of feeders and cameras are out there.
What % of the bucks that frequent a given area will be captured on camera?
Lets say preseason and not season cause that may make some difference.
Ive always felt it made sense that anyone feeding a lot of protein(especially freechoice so they can come when want) would get a higher percentage of bucks on camera. This would also be true of someone feeding a lot of corn versus someone that just sticks a camera out on a trail with no feed.
All of them? Half? 75%? What thoughts and comments from yall pros????

Last edited by freerange; 08/18/21 09:19 PM.

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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8355737 08/18/21 09:51 PM
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I've only had cameras out for one month so far this year. On three corn feeders I've had zero bucks. On two protein feeders I have a few bucks but not near as many as last year. So i'm really not sure how many bucks we have running around this year.

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8355762 08/18/21 10:07 PM
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There are many times when looking for hogs at night with thermal in west Texas I will have a group of deer at the feeder usually bucks. I can then scan around and find sometimes 2-3 more groups of bucks just out eating natural browse. We have bucks show up before season we never see again after season starts and new bucks we have never seen show up. I’m almost positive there are bucks that just don’t go to feeders and never end up on camera.


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8355765 08/18/21 10:08 PM
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On a new lease and have been feeding since April-May. Been feeding corn twice a day and I drop protein once a day. . I have 5 bucks regularly hitting the feed pen daily and only 1-2 does per day.

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8355852 08/18/21 11:30 PM
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following many years of many many camera pictures my guess is 75 % range are caught on camera - we would put 20 plus cameras out on 9000 acres - it never failed that once the season started we would see out of our stands bucks that we had never captured on camera - when the bucks are in bachelor groups over the summer it is much easier to get their pics IMO -

we were on a ranch that encompassed a total of 16,000 acres so I do not think it was a deal where a bunch of new deer came onto the ranch once the bucks split up - my take is that there are simply some bucks that avoid the feed pens and once the season starts and live hunters are sitting stands they see the bucks that avoided the feed pens - cannot tell you how many trophy deer that were shot that had never been seen before the hunter saw them and took them -

here are just two of many that we never did see on camera before they were shot - on the first deer pic check out the head and body of that bad [censored] - one of the biggest bodied deer we ever harvested off of this ranch

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Last edited by tlk; 08/19/21 12:56 AM.

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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8355962 08/19/21 01:37 AM
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Definitely depends on size of the property number of cameras. I’d agree you get much better “coverage” of your deer on protein vs corn. We run 9 cameras on 1,100 acres. Probably go through 200,000-300,000 pics from July to October. I’d say we see 95%+ of our bucks. Most years we identify 60-90 individual bucks.

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356127 08/19/21 04:30 AM
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Just looked at last years numbers. We captured 74 bucks on camera. 80% or so were bucks that were year round residents. 10% were bucks that had defined summer ranges and moved in for the fall winter or vice versa. The last 10% were "surprise" bucks that were on 1 day to 1 week vacations from wherever there home range was. I would imagine there were a few that the cameras missed, but I don't lose sleep over them.

We see consistently less doe pics on camera just because bucks, specifically young bucks, will almost always out pressure does at feeders. Nevertheless, we have a ~2-1 doe/buck ratio.

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356131 08/19/21 04:40 AM
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I put cameras on travel routes rather than feeders and found all the bucks that don't go to feeders. I was surprised at the number of them on my ranch that I've never seen before on feeder cams.


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356303 08/19/21 01:21 PM
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I'd love to see the results of a true blue scientific based study on this. I can only assume that the %'s being tossed about are not much more than wild rear end guesses, no offense meant. I know that we routinely get pictures of the same feed hounds day in day out all season long. Sometimes they wind up being a pos 6 point with no brows and sometimes they are our target for the year or next year etc. It seems like with hunting pressure more often than not several of the mature bucks avoid feeders. Several years ago we got a bunch of pictures of a bachelor group of bucks on a camera survey, hand corn away from feeders/blinds. There were 4 bucks in the group all were 4+ years old all season we saw 1 of them at a stand during the middle of the rut chasing a doe and it was a bad day for him. Never got a picture of any of them other than that one location either and we run cams all year.


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: tlk] #8356350 08/19/21 01:43 PM
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Nice bucks. Hoss Daddies for sure.


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356362 08/19/21 01:50 PM
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We once had a place leased and contacted aTP&W department employee to come out and do a survey. He said he could do it either by helicopter or by putting out numerous game cameras. We chose the helicopter because it was cheaper, plus if we wanted to, we could have done the camera surveys. Interpreting the results is where you need the help. Another problem with figuring out % of bucks is the info is basically only good for a short amount of time. I realize you can come up with a ballpark figure, but there are always some bucks that never venture to feeders unless it is downwind during the rut. These are the ones I like to hunt for.


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356422 08/19/21 02:45 PM
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Good comments so far guys. Red mentioned wishing there was a comprehensive study done on this and I agree. Im sure there are studies out there on this but Im unsure. I know cameras are used for surveys so there must be an opinion of some kind of fudge factor on whats not seen.
I dont expect any right or wrong answers on this, but Im just looking for yalls estimates/guesstimates. Im also not really looking for how pics in preseason correlate to bucks killed in season. Im just curious whats actually out there versus whats seen on cams in preseason. Im not talking about just this season or just your lease, but just a theoretical estimate of what it probably is around the State.
-tlk estimated 75% and I would guess that may be close. He feeds a tremendous amount of protein, cottonseed and corn so I would think his % would maybe be higher than others that just throw a little corn. He had about a camera per 500 acres.
-txhunt65 said 95% and that seems high but he has a camera per about 100 acres so maybe so.
-ntxtrappers perspective was definitely different by putting up cams not around feeders.
-DoubleAC definitely seems to be on top on his numbers better than most so that info is interesting. Im not sure you really said what % of resident bucks you think you get on camera.
Thanks again for the input guys and keep em coming. No right or wrong answers, its just opinions.


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356424 08/19/21 02:45 PM
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I would think there are a ton of variables to consider here such as how many cameras, feeders, whether feeders are free choice or timed, how long the feed stations have been in place, etc etc etc.

On my new lease (2400 acres) we have 7 protein feeders set up. The 6 other guys were on it last year and did not feed much protein at all last spring & summer but we've been pretty consistent this year since February. In our case I think tlk's # of 75% would be pretty close. I do know that the 2 nearest other protein feeders to mine are just about exactly 1/2 mile away or a touch more and I will say that I know when their smaller (600lb) feeders run out because all of a sudden the bucks they get on pics multiple times per day start showing up at my bigger feeder that still has feed in it. So, there is no doubt when they need it they will travel some distance to get it and our place up until this week has been drier than a popcorn fart so they definitely needed it.


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356434 08/19/21 02:56 PM
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""I would think there are a ton of variables to consider here such as how many cameras, feeders, whether feeders are free choice or timed, how long the feed stations have been in place, etc etc etc.""
Above quote by ILUV is certainly very true and a huge factor in the "estimates". I always look at the extremes when narrowing down an opinion/decision.
--The extreme to me on this is the scenario that has a HIGH concentration of cameras and feed stations that feed a lot of protein/corn etc and they have been in place a long time AND are not disturbed often. I would guess maybe 90%+ in this example.
--The other extreme would be a LOW concentration of feed stations and cameras that feed only corn and maybe not much of it. I would guess probably under 50% in this example.
--The other far far extreme that I dont even want to factor in would be a few cams set up on trails without feed and I hate to venture the low % that would be seen.
Thats all just my guesses/opinions and thats all I want from yall(unless someone knows of a study.)


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356488 08/19/21 04:08 PM
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On a smaller place than most have mentioned here with corn available year round , Bucks would be about 20%. As mentioned once the season begins of course it goes up due to the rut and the fact we i have feeder going off at 2:00 am. It is surprising how much activity goes on at the 2:00 am feeding. Greater percent of bucks and a number of doe also.

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356524 08/19/21 04:38 PM
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Mature bucks seldom use the same trails the rest of the deer use, I get my mature buck pics in the most random of places most people simply overlook. Often times its right where you wouldn’t think to put a camera but that’s why I run about 25 cameras and I find deer that otherwise wouldn’t be found until the rut kicks in. The deer I hunt are rarely seen on camera until you find their bedding areas and then thr like clockwork but their home range is often no bigger than a 50 acre block. As far as the cameras that are on regular trails about 30% are of bucks but once they seem to reach about 3 years old they start the hide and seek game but once you find thr home range I start getting picks of other mature bucks as well. They don’t get old by sheer luck and they somehow have a 6th sense about going off the grid so to speak. Try putting a few cameras in places you’ve never had them and see what happens, you will get pics of deer you didn’t know existed,, I promise you thr hunting you as much as your hunting them and their pros while we’re rookies lol

I just moved 4 cameras right up close to an old house on a property I’ve hunted for years and I found 2 bucks I’ve seen a few times during the rut but never knew where they lived,, thr not stupid but I have him pegged now.. One is a solid 180” deer and he’s now the wife’s target buck and we will be hunting him from the back porch since the new blind is the back porch smile ani

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356536 08/19/21 04:50 PM
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Ol Thumper, good insight as always. Thinking outside the box that most are in. But now please take a guess at my question. If you just put cameras at feeders then what % of your bucks do you think you would get on those cams? I know you are experienced at hunting real big bucks and in a little different part of the world than most, so ill be curious what you think.


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356572 08/19/21 05:38 PM
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Cameras strictly at feeders on our properties, about 24% of bucks have been identified solely at feeders. Our bucks up here don’t react well to feeders at all as I’m guessing you probably know unless the ruts close or in full effect or their simply young deer. The only feeders I use that are higher would be our cottonseed feeders in between available crops.

It sure would make hunting easier if all the bucks showed up to a feeder though LOL I keep an ongoing yearly log of overall deer sightings/trail pics and buck sightings in general and in relation to a certain feeder, different crops or certain areas.

I wouldn’t use feeder deer sightings to judge anything other than doe numbers, bucks don’t respond well to them IMO

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356690 08/19/21 08:00 PM
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I used cameras every 60 acres and I believe they cover 95% and higher of all deer on my lease. I use the cameras to do census every year for many years. Yes, you learn a lot in the process. The one thing I learned is that bucks travel as much as 2.5 miles and possible more during the rut...however..all bucks have a home. They stay at home...they travel..and they come back home....most of them that I have counted for the last 12 years...and longer at times. I run the census from April to September...a lot of money and a LOT of time that it takes to do the job. So...to address what % bucks come to the feeders...my answer is this..bucks come to feed and scents. I have two pens...each pen has two feeders. Most of the bucks is each area come to the pens..however...I also feed where there are no feeders but just drop corn..which will attract bucks in that particular area. Now, during the rut, I will get about 10% additional new bucks(which I call "NOMADS"). Which I have found that during the rut I see more big mature bucks...not necessarily at any feeder but where the does are. These areas, are close to the fawning areas...not to say they don't travel away from their areas as the do. Again, you can say almost all the older bucks you can count with accuracy at the right times, and other times, you may not see them for a while. Then some may come back and some may not. Year after year MOSTLY the same deer come back to the same place each year. The bigger older bucks hang out at safe areas...lol I don't know why they hang out around me.lol I feel like I could answer most questions as they relate to what I do and have done in years past. What I have found may not relate to your area as I believe depending on how the deer are treated will depend where they call home.

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356695 08/19/21 08:09 PM
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I put cameras in three of our pens that all have corn digital timer feeders and free flow protein feeders. You will definitely have pictures of bigger, more mature bucks when you feed protein. It seems that the mature bucks tend to keep does and smaller bucks away from the protein at night. But yall are correct. I have never killed a big mature buck in the pens while hunting. And the bucks I have on cameras are those that I seldom see while hunting. But then again, I hunt on property which have several hunters that don't know how to keep quiet while hunting. My uncles and cousins are always driving around the ranch when they should not. Mature bucks are definitely smart. They do know how and when to stay out. They hear your hunting vehicle or your truck when you approach your stand. When you leave your stand after a morning hunt, those mature bucks know it. You definitely have to mix it up. Those bucks are hunting you!!

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356771 08/19/21 09:43 PM
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Hunter Daddy, good info. You said you feed corn and protein and that "you will definitely have pictures of bigger, more mature bucks when you feed protein". So, as Ive pushed others, can you estimate/guess what percentage of bucks on your place you get pictures of in preseason? 25%, 50%, 75%, 90%+??


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356792 08/19/21 10:12 PM
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I think a huge part of the answer to the question is where you hunt - as stated before and like many of you I have hunted for over 60 years both Hill Country, West Texas, and South Texas. Deer in Hill Country tend to be way more cautious and careful about coming to feeders, noise, etc. My guess is that is because there are smaller properties with way more shooting going on, etc. I would think bucks are more wary of any kind of feed pen.

In South Texas on large properties the deer are way less wary of noise, scent, etc. On our lease nobody ever worried about scent because the deer did not care. I had guys get on my lease who wanted to buy electric RTV's so they could sneak into a blind - I told them it was just the opposite - the more noise you make attracts them because they associate it with feed. On our cameras we would have tons of deer (both bucks and does) hit the feeders on a regular basis.

So in South Texas you do not attract every buck to feeders but you do attract most of them - I based my 75% estimate purely off of years of us running across bucks during the season that had not been on camera prior to the season - my guess is that the unseen bucks were probably at a feeder on another part of the ranch - so to reiterate my take on the answer to your question is it depends on where you are hunting

Last edited by tlk; 08/19/21 10:13 PM.

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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356797 08/19/21 10:18 PM
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Put up a protein feeder and a huge cottonseed feeder by themselves away from corn feeders if your trying to get the most bucks you can at a feeder. Corn feeders where your at are useless for anything other than young bucks IMO. Protein and cottonseed in part I are the best tools for older bucks.


Cotton harvest is here and the gin south of us will have tons of it cheap very soon..

Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356830 08/19/21 11:08 PM
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For what its worth, I really am asking these questions mostly all out of curiosity. Both places I hunt we get huge numbers of bucks on camera and many are mature. Ive always been amazed at how many bucks we kill that we know all about ahead of time. There are certainly some that show up that we have never seen and there are others that disappear. Overall Im guessing we get 75% of bucks on camera but that truly is just an educated guess and Im curious what others think. Mostly curious what may be out there that we are missing, but not assuming anything will change in how we find them.


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Re: % of bucks on cameras?? [Re: freerange] #8356960 08/20/21 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by freerange
For what its worth, I really am asking these questions mostly all out of curiosity. Both places I hunt we get huge numbers of bucks on camera and many are mature. Ive always been amazed at how many bucks we kill that we know all about ahead of time. There are certainly some that show up that we have never seen and there are others that disappear. Overall Im guessing we get 75% of bucks on camera but that truly is just an educated guess and Im curious what others think. Mostly curious what may be out there that we are missing, but not assuming anything will change in how we find them.



for me one of the coolest parts of hunting the lease we did was knowing that every buck had not been seen before - the second year on our lease we killed a 7.5 year old buck opening day that had never been seen on camera nor the helicopter survey - and he was in the center of a 16K ranch. That was always part of the excitement for me - knowing that an totally unknown trophy buck could step out at any moment - cameras can be good and cameras can not be good


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