Digital game cameras have become essential gear for deer hunters. They are our eyes in the woods even when we can’t be there, and they show us scenes we could have only imagined before.

Even though he relies on them extensively throughout his hunting properties, Curtis Simpson pulls them during February because they don’t help him pinpoint big bucks until June.

"A lot of people leave them out all year long," he said. "And they’re good for seeing how many deer are milling around your property, but they’re not going to help you determine if a big buck is there from February through June."

Since Simpson has sold out for big bucks only, he doesn’t care to see how many deer might be using his property. Instead, he looks for that one giant deer that he will individually target.

"Bucks start shedding their horns around February, so you can’t tell bucks from does from then until about mid-summer," Simpson explained. "I start putting them back out again in June."

Then he can start monitoring horn growth, what sized bucks are growing there, what bucks are coming in and what bucks might be going out.

However, Simpson doesn’t put his cameras up near the trees he has already marked in February as his hunting stands. Rather, he puts them out around summer food sources, creek crossings and other high-traffic areas bucks use before they change into their fall and winter patterns.

"I run my cameras where deer are during the summer, not where they’re going to be in the fall," he noted. "That way I can monitor what’s going on without disturbing where I’m going to hunt."