Talkin' Outdoors

It’s hot; temperatures are flirting with triple digits and sitting under air conditioning at home is much more inviting than venturing into the outdoors under such circumstances.

Ticks, chiggers, snakes and the risk of heat stroke are not something we care to mess with when it’s so blasted hot and muggy. However, you may be missing an excellent opportunity to photograph and locate the biggest buck you ever saw on your hunting grounds.

Gil Lackey, Nashville outdoor writer and photographer, sprays on bug repellant, pulls on his rubber boots and hits the outdoors when it’s blazing hot and he does it with one thing in mind. He’s an expert with the use of trail cameras and he knows this is the absolute best time to photograph not only big deer but other critters as well.

“I’m bitten by the trail cam bug to the point I don’t worry about other bugs because I know I have the chance to get photos of the biggest buck in the area this time of year,” Lackey said.

The key to getting in-your-face photos of deer and other creatures is water. In summer where mud holes are starting to dry up is where Lackey says you can just about guarantee that wild animals and birds can be found.

“I will attach my camera to a stake and wade out into these shrinking water holes and point the camera in the direction where I see the most tracks. I get some amazing pictures on cameras set up like this. Not only do I get photos of deer, I’ll get pictures of turkeys catching frogs and coyotes catching turkeys catching frogs,” Lackey quipped.

Other choice areas are wide open spaces where groups of bachelor bucks like to hang out in summer.

“If you see a group of bucks in velvet in an area today, chances are you’ll see them there again tomorrow. It’s like they have a calendar and they know they’re safe from hunting pressure and they’ll often show up in the same spots just about every day. This is a good spot to place your camera and you’re likely to get photos of some of the biggest bucks in the whole area. In winter, however, I like my cameras in some thick cover because hunting season is going on and I know they are likely to avoid open areas,” Lackey said.

“I live on the outskirts of Nashville and I get some amazing photos on my trail cameras in my back yard. You can put out an attractant such as corn where it’s legal to do so and get great deer photos. I also target other species and will sometimes stake down a road-killed animal and put my camera around it. I get photos of foxes, coyotes, bobcats, owls, hawks and any number of animals and birds of prey coming to the bait,” he added.

On a personal note, I have been frustrated in trying my luck with cameras purchased at sporting good stores. I recently trashed four old cameras that no longer worked properly. Most are made overseas and in my experience, the quality is sorely lacking. Lackey seldom uses off-the-shelf cameras to get his amazing photos. He either makes the cameras he uses or utilizes services of others who are in the business of building cameras.

“I have most of the cameras I use that are made by Jim Sanders, a fellow who is in the business of building cameras. You can contact Jim at Another way to find out where you might get cameras custom built is to Google ‘home brew cameras,’” he said.

Want to improve your chances at getting some eye-popping photos of the biggest bucks in the area you hunt? Find a shrinking mud hole in the heat of summer and stake your camera out to see what is coming to drink. It just might surprise you.