Steve Bartylla on Weather and Deer Movement
Tip of the Day
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So, we’ve now covered how to match our setups to the various phases of season, as well as how to setup on heavily pressured bucks. The big one left is weather.
Rather than go through every scenario, lets just look at a couple. As you will see, the key is focusing on the comfort factor.
The big one we all complain about is when it gets hot. As we all know, high temps can do a magnificent job of turning the best deer woods into a seemingly lifeless desert. The reason is that deer are putting on or already wearing their winter coats. Running around in high temps in snow pants, a parka, ski mask, gloves and tundra boots wouldn’t be fun for us and it’s not fun for them, either.
Think comfort when it comes to beating the heat. Odds are Mr. Big isn’t going to be bedding on that southern exposure point or knob he can be found sunning himself on during colder temps. As everyone in snow country knows, the sun melts those hillsides well before the northern exposed slopes, as the southern exposures get to soak up the sun and are generally warmer. That’s why they’re great for cold weather bedding but stink for hot weather.
So, where the cooler alternatives they head for? Well, northern exposure is one of them, particularly if they can catch a nice breeze there. Large, shaded areas in general will be a few degrees cooler. Those bottoms are cooler still. Heck, I’ve even seen deer bed right in water when it gets excessively hot.
Even when we aren’t hunting those bedding areas, understanding that is critical. Bucks aren’t going to be running around a lot in high temps. So, knowing where they are likely bedded is a big help. Generally speaking, we want to be closer to where he beds than further away, even when hunting food. He likely isn’t going to make it a long distance from his bed before dark.
Now lets apply this to the rut. High temps, moon phase, rain, wind, none of this has a dang thing to do with when does come into estrus. An absolute glut of studies and data have proven that. The timing of estrus is mainly tied to the photoperiod. When daylight shrinks to a specific threshold, it queues estrus in does. Health of the doe, her birth timing and other things can nudge the timing a bit in one direction or the other, for adult does (as covered yesterday, growth achieved and health are the triggers for doe fawns), but the photoperiod is by far the biggest factor.
So, when it’s 85 degrees on November 10th in MN, the hunting may stink, but the peak breeding phase is still happening and breeding is still occurring. As mentioned already, think comfort. Is Mr. Big likely running miles at 2 PM? Well, if he does, he is hell bent on killing himself. He likely won’t be moving much until sundown, as the temps are typically lower then.
AMs are golden during these conditions, as it’s the coolest portion of legal hunting hours. If one is going to hunt midday or PMs, in woods water sources are a good choice, either close to doe or buck bedding.
For high winds, hunting the more sheltered areas makes sense. In cold temps, realize that Mr. Big is most often either going to seek out a southern exposure or protection from the winds/thermal cover.
Simply put, Mr. Big wants to achieve a comfort factor during more extreme weather conditions. For those that live on or near their hunting grounds, skipping hunts on bad weather days isn’t a bad option at all. For those that have 1 week to hunt their longer distance hunting grounds, giving up 5 of those days, due to bad weather, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Be prepared, understand what areas bucks seek to maintain a higher level of comfort, factor that into to your “bad hunting weather days” approach and you give yourself a sluggers chance. Don’t and odds are that those sits will be spent watching birds and squirrels, if they are even moving in those conditions.
The bucks in this piece were all shot during weather extremes (extremely windy, unbelievably hot and Heater Body Suit, Inc levels of brutally cold). Setting and hunting stands specifically for those conditions played a critical role in tagging all 3, as well as a handful of others I’ve tagged over the years. Being ready for any and everything Mother Nature can throw at you allows you to stay in the game, while others are wasting time on the couch or in trees that offer virtually no chance of a happy ending that day, under those conditions. Don’t waste your time and effort complaining. Proactively do something about it!