“With their heavy fur coats and inability to ventilate as humans do,” he said, “white-tailed deer simply cannot function in warm weather.” Whereas Northern deer might be uncomfortable in 50-degree weather, the opposite holds true for whitetails living in, say, some areas of Alabama, South Carolina and Florida’s panhandle.
From Deer & Overhunting Magazine, the 2016 Whitetails Wall Calendar features the work of deer researchers Wayne Roche and Charlie Alzheimer, who reveal the 2016 whitetail rut prediction, based on years of lunar cycle research. Both whitetail and mule deer have finely tuned senses, including an innate ability to adjust their feeding and movement according to pressure changes.
So before slipping into some camouflage and heading downwind, check out our quick primer on the effects of weather on deer. When the barometric pressure rises, typically after a storm has passed, expect deer to be on the move, and thus more likely to stray from their trusted hiding places.
Whitetails, in particular, stick to a nocturnal schedule, leaving a fairly narrow window around dawn and dusk when a hunter might get lucky. Things heat up noticeably in rutting season, roughly from late October to December, when bucks are more likely to drop their guard.
Likewise, an incoming cold front usually signals a spike in activity, as deer will feed up 24 hours ahead of any storm. Rain affects the mood of the camp more than the behavior or movement of deer, and hunters who hunker down undercover are often missing out on a great opportunity.
Overhunting in Windy Weather As well as using their impressive sense for barometric pressure, deer also rely heavily on their hearing as a natural defense. So if the winds are strong, pickings will be slim, not to mention the chances of making a clean shot for a bow hunter.
Many hunters relish the icy temperatures of snow season, particularly in the north where deer are accustomed to the winters. Deer hunting often means heading deep into the wilderness and there’s always a risk of falling prey to bad weather.
Here are some conditions you need to watch for when looking at the perfect day of deer hunting. Have several (or all) of them hit at the same time and your likely set for the hunt of a lifetime.
The First and Last Hour of Daylight: If you look at the research, it shows that mature bucks move most at dawn and dusk. The data suggests that’ll always be true regardless of outside factors.
That includes the time of year, hunting pressure, etc. As commonly noted, midday hunts can be very effective, but your best odds of killing a deer are still in that first and last hour of light.
In my opinion, it’s any temperature swing (up or down) of 15 to 20 degrees (or more) within a 24-hour period. Make sure you have your heavy-duty King’s Camo hunting clothing on when you experience those freezing spells.
They sense the oncoming weather and tend to feed heavily just prior to its arrival, and if it lingers, just after its departure, too. As previously mentioned, big temperature drops typically accompany fronts.
There’s no research that suggests deer move more or less on a full moon, or any phase for that matter. However, there is plenty of research that supports the theory that deer get up and feed more when the moon is directly overhead and underfoot.
I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes since I began following this theory. As much to hunting concerned hunters are likely to feel the impact of weather on them and so it does with the season, time, and temperature to the deer ’s as well.
In recent years, early hunting seasons have featured unseasonably warm weather. It can be very frustrating as it may seem these deer ’s hole up and don’t move until dark when the temperature slightly dips.
With few exceptions, deer move little during low-pressure fronts, which often result in fog, rain or snow. As advised hunters to hunt food in the afternoons so that you don’t run any deer off.
Most hunters know that food is an important consideration early and late in any deer season. Days after two or more consecutive hard frosts (27 degrees or lower) will see an increase in feeding and browsing, especially on food plots.
If food is an important resource to capitalize on during the rut, a secluded waterhole can be just as valuable. And such spots are usually a bit cooler than the surrounding environments, sometimes by several degrees due to shady over, the presence of water and the fact that many ponds are found in a low-lying area.
While the weather is unseasonably warm in the early days of the season, meteorologist is hinting that a change is coming. And that’s by way of a series of storms and big cold fronts that are scheduled to move across the region, maybe mid-month that could usher in the first deerhuntingweather.
Deer don’t have smartphones with weather apps to forecast what’s to come, but they sure do sense it, and their sensory organs seem to be a lot sharper than ours. The final two hours leading up to a rainfall and immediately after it ends can showcase tremendous deer movement compared to unchanging dry conditions.
I will exit the comforts of my truck during a hard rainfall and march to my stand if I see the forecast calling for a short break in-between the rains. As wet and cold as it can prove to be, I have the utmost confidence that deer will be on their feet and moving during that break from the storm or after the tail end of it has pushed through.
A caveat to my observations has proved that even heavy snowfall may not hinder whitetail movement as much during peak activity periods, such as during the rut or if the snow has been ongoing and potentially worsening to icy conditions. The following morning, my cameraman and I paddled down a small river to reach the backside of the piece I was hunting and came in from the downwind side.
The wind was howling, and the snow was accumulating at a rapid pace, but that didn’t seem to hinder deer movement. It was in that first hour I ended up shooting the buck we had observed the night before after a pair of does come walking through the marsh we were situated over.
Barometric pressure is one of the main conditions I keep track of to determine optimal days and times to be in the woods hunting whitetails. With a heavy frost on the ground, chilly air, and a rising barometer, deer seem to be on their feet more so than any other condition I’ve observed in twenty-five years of hunting.
Whitetails like to approach areas they’re heading, such as a food source, or bedding, from downwind to make sure they have a clue of any danger before they reach their destination. Whitetails don’t always move with the wind in their face, sometimes they’ll travel hard transitions from thick cover and open terrain with a 45-degree crosswind.
Thermals is the last concept I’ll touch on in this article as it is one more key fundamental a hunter must grasp to comprehend how whitetails navigate in uneven terrain, especially ridges, bluffs, and mountains. Deer innately travel where their sense of smell is most advantageous for their safety, so expect them to move higher in the mornings and lower in the evenings in hilly terrain.
With the information provided by weather apps such as Underground, you should be able to effectively preplan your setups and know exactly where and when you need to be out hunting this fall. Hunting deer, especially mature bucks, involves a constant balancing act between getting into positions that allow shot opportunities while trying to keep deer unaware of your presence.
While there are many factors that consistently successful hunters consider when making this determination, barometric pressure is one of the most common and influential variables taken into account. What Scientists Say If we look at the impact of barometric pressure on deer movement only through the lens of what the science tells us, this would be a short discussion.
Many of the most ardent supporters of watching the weather and pressure are those deer hunters that often fill their tags with wall hangers. Drug notes that how the barometric pressure compares to the average for that time of year is the real key.
Jeff Surges of Whitetail Habitat Solutions targets fronts in similar manner. But what I and many deer hunters care about is a slight edge that might result in a mature buck moving just a bit further or a few minutes earlier than normal.