Deer Hunting Different Weather Conditions
Weather conditions play a major role in the whitetail's life. When patterns are stable, deer go about their normal routines. However, a change in weather patterns will often put deer on their feet to feed. This occurs when a drop in the barometric pressure is experienced. Deer will be on their feet hours before the storm arrives and the crafty deer hunter should be near feeding locations to take advantage of this behavior.
Cold weather will cause deer to be on their feet more in an effort to feed more and keep body temp’s up. Of course, bowhunting in bitter cold creates its own set of problems for the hunter so prepare accordingly when hunting in such conditions.
Hunters may not like deer hunting in the rain, but they would be wise to consider it depending on the severity and duration of rainfall. Research suggests that light to moderate rain does not affect a whitetail’s daily routine. When rain continues for a long period of time, deer will get a false sense of security with regard to human activity. Many will assume the woods are void of any human predators and move about more during daylight hours.
Rain and fog is also a great time to still hunt your area. The rain will wet the forest floor, muffling any noise as you stalk along, the fog will limit the deer’s eye perception, and the atmosphere will limit the olfactory capacity of the whitetail.
High winds and rain on the other hand cause a deer’s senses to go on overload. Heavy wind and rain will greatly diminish their sense of smell, sight, and sound. This causes the deer to be very skittish. As a result, they will often seek out concealing pieces of property in which to escape the undesirable elements.
Snow falls are particularly good the first time they occur. However, because no two snowstorms are the same, researchers and deer hunters have a hard time determining what circumstances cause deer to behave in a certain way.
The cool thing about deer hunting in the snow is that deer are easier to spot and they are clueless to this fact; assuming that they are still blending into their environments. On the flip side of the coin, you become more noticeable as well; unless you have specialized snow camo. Deer will also rely more on their sense of smell and sight due to the muffling nature of snow.
Extreme cold makes it difficult to stalk in the frozen top layer of snow, so treestand hunting is best used during this time. Whenever a break in the temperature occurs, rising, deer will be more active as well. So, save your hunting days for that time.
The wind greatly affects the daily habits of whitetails. Generally speaking, as wind speeds increase deer activity will decrease. This is due to the inability of the whitetail to use its keen senses for survival. High winds will disrupt their hearing as well as sight. As a result, deer will tend to lay low and move as little as possible during very high wind.
These conditions make for excellent spot and stalk opportunities for crafty deer hunters. Deer will typically remain where they feel safe; such as bedding areas, so start by looking there. Deer will also seek shelter from wind and cold by lying on hillsides and slope that block the wind.
When the conditions are calm, deer are more relaxed. They behave in a much more social manner; taking time to feed and browse more openly together instead of constantly scanning their surroundings for danger. Bucks will be more willing to follow does out in the open, and can concentrate more on things like sparing and establishing dominance. Does have also been known to delay birthing fawns until harsh weather passes by.
For the deer hunter, cover scents become less vital on calm days with little or no wind. However, moving through the woods becomes very hard for the hunter who wants to fly under the whitetail radar.
For the whitetail hunter, there is no better time of the year than the deer rut. Mature bucks that were once rarely or never seen suddenly become visible during daylight hours.
More importantly, these same bucks typically let down their guard in the never ending
pursuit of the next hot doe.
However, there are many different phases of the rut. Thus, the hunter that is able to distinguish the difference and the best ways to hunt each phase, stands the best chance of filling a tag.
The earliest part of the rut is said to begin when a buck's antlers reach maturity in late summer. At this time, testosterone levels begin to rise which causes the blood to stop flowing into the velvet incasing the antlers. The pre-rut, begins when bucks start to leave sign posts in certain areas near their home range, and eventually near doe bedding and feeding areas as the rut progresses. Eventually, toward the end of the pre-rut, bucks will aggressively chase any doe close to estrus. The breeding phase is when the buck and doe will actually mate. Deer hunting during this time can be hard because the buck and doe will usually lay low in an effort to avoid other deer while trying to mate. The intense chasing seen a few weeks prior will be a distant memory.
The post deer rut is typically when bucks try to make up for lost body weight and energy expended over the course of the rut. This will require feeding heavily and lying low in bedding areas.