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The Drury Way With Trail Cameras
Mark and Terry Drury from Drury Outdoors are another great example of the many reasons that you should consider deer cameras to complement your scouting efforts.
During the 2004 and 2005 seasons Mark has taken back-to-back bucks with scores that gross over 190 inches while Terry took his biggest ever just last season, a buck that grossed nearly 180 inches. Mark and Terry Drury both credit the use of deer cams for teaching volumes about the normally reclusive lives of mature bucks and for helping them put together the patterns of these three huge bucks.
The Drury way includes a lot of conventional hunting strategy, but the truly unique aspects of their method involve the creative and aggressive use of trail monitor cameras. By the time the season opens each year, Mark and Terry Drury know at least 80% of the bucks using their hunting area – all because of trail camera photos. This kind of intimate knowledge with each buck not only helps them determine which ones they would like to shoot, but also where to hunt them and in some cases, even how to hunt them.
“The first thing we want to find out each year is what kinds of bucks we have to hunt,” said Mark Drury. “We do this by placing game monitor cameras on high activity crossings near feeding areas. We start on July 4 and keep the cameras running right on through the summer and fall. We’ve learned that the very best time for shots of mature bucks is the first two weeks of August. For some reason, every buck on the farm comes out to feed at that time - often during full daylight.
“This inventory helps us keep track of individual deer. I realize some people don’t have the opportunity to watch certain bucks for more than one year before someone shoots the deer, but we make every effort to let the bucks we hunt reach 4 1/2 years old before we try to shoot them. Being able to age the deer we hunt is important and the game monitoring systems make that possible.
“I always figure that we won’t kill many of the mature bucks we find on the farm so the only trophies we will have from them is the trail camera photos - or maybe a shed antler or two. We just like to get any piece of these special deer that we possibly can.
After Mark and Terry Drury have picked out several mature bucks that are candidates for the fall hunting season, it is time to try to pattern those specific bucks more closely. This occurs from late August through October and is a work in progress. Mark calls it MRI or Most Recent Information. That’s what he wants going into the season and all season long – the most recent possible sightings and camera hits.
“Our camera monitoring efforts really get serious in late October,” Mark said. “Earlier in the month, we switch our cameras to deer scrapes. We are trying to relocate the bucks we photographed during the summer. The scrape activity really takes off on October 25 each year with bucks of all ages hitting them.
“The night shots we get from trail cameras located at the deer scrapes are the key to being in the right place at the right time when those same bucks start moving more during the day. When we find evidence of a shooter buck in a certain area we shift to that area and start hunting him immediately. There is no better time to hunt the buck than as soon as you know he is there. We don’t actually hunt over the scrapes, though. We try to determine where the buck might be moving farther back in the cover, and then we hunt stands in those places. Usually, we look for thick cover because we notice that bucks work those thickets looking for does like a beagle looking for a rabbit.
“We also learn a lot about buck personalities from the footage on the cameras. We’ve had some bucks on the farm that are very visible and have small home ranges. These are by far the easiest to kill, but there aren’t many bucks like this in the herd. It is the exception rather than the rule. For example, we had a buck once that had four different core areas in four years. He was hard to follow. Each year he moved to a new area. Other bucks have been very secretive and nocturnal as youngsters only to become much more active during the day as they gained dominance status later in life. It is a real pleasure to learn the individual personalities of the bucks we hunt. We feel like we have gotten to know them.”