-By Brandon Wikman
There’s nothing more critical in the mind of a savvy deer hunter’s decision-making process than watching weather patterns. Deer are influenced by several variables that we can control or often times wish we could. The essence to discovering success is to understand your limits and boundaries as a whitetail deer hunter.
Some of the attributes we can definitely influence are hunting pressure and food sources. Hunting pressure is accredited to the amount of hunting we do in certain area. It is a deterrent to our odds of striking a mature buck. Every single time we hunt in a particular tree stand or ground blind, we are narrowing the opportunity of killing. Several factors can manipulate the range of alertness deer have picked-up on throughout the entire season. Some of the problems are the amount of human scent left behind in the woods or field. Other factors can be the amount of times deer have spotted you in your stand or walking through the field after dark. That is why maximizing your scent reduction practices and entry or exit routes to a deer stand are so essential. Our mistakes are easily downloaded into a deer’s computer-like mind and used against us.
I found that out when I first began hunting the farm where I grew up. I was only twelve and didn’t comprehend the wisdom deer truly have. The first two seasons I would always climb down from my tree stand and exit from the field. As you could imagine, deer scattered like splinters of material after an atomic explosion. All I’d see were white tails bounding to the nearest woodlot. The third season I finally saw a great reduction of deer using the field during hunting hours. It wasn’t until after dark when they’d have enough courage to venture into the alfalfa and soybean.
Food availability is the other aspect of hunter control. That is why food plots are so important and have been the dictator of tagging-out every season for thousands of hunters across the nation. Planting different food plots that cater to each season is by far the most important characteristic in a whitetail habitat. If you can customize each food plot to fully develop and ripen according to spring, summer, fall and winter, deer will have no reason to leave your property. It is the production of food availability on a yearly basis that aids not only in deer sightings, but also health and nutrition.
Weather is a totally different aspect in the whitetail world. It’s a factor that we as hunters cannot control, but can use to our advantage. Deer feed heavily before and after storms. That is why sometimes we spot deer devouring food during the middle of the day out in a field. Unlike humans, deer can easily sense weather systems. When a heavy snowstorm is moving in, deer will pack themselves plump full with anything in sight, because during the storm blast, they’ll be conserving energy.
If we were to focus on hunting according to the weather right now, we need to look at the temperature as a surefire gauge to predict deer movement. I did that recently on an Ohio muzzleloader deer hunt that has been scheduled for the past year. Two weeks ago I was supposed to be in a tree stand in Ohio, but after looking at the five-day forecast, things changed. The weather in Ohio is supposed to be in the mid-60’s and rainy throughout the week. To any hunter looking to face a challenging hunt, this would be one to jump into. Deer, especially big bucks, have no reason to get out of their bed early. They won’t jump into a foot plot or agriculture field until dark.
I actually ended up re-scheduling the entire trip after speaking to the outfitter and eyeballing weather.com. We decided to wait for a major weather pattern to move into the Buckeye state before any attempt to kill a big buck at all. Even though the muzzleloader firearm season will be over, I will have better opportunity with a bow in hand trying to stay warm in 20-degrees, rather than 60-degree temperatures.