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Deer hunting: the whitetail and weather link

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after nearly 50 years of bow hunting is that the prevailing weather, particularly when change is imminent, has a lot to do with seeing deer. As a result I pay as much attention to weather conditions as I do to checking the available food source over which I usually hunt.

Whitetail behavior is influenced more by weather conditions than perhaps anything else in nature. Granted, food availability will cause whitetails to change feeding patterns, and hunting pressure will have an impact on deer sightings. But it’s the weather that will determine where a whitetail beds, where it feeds and when it moves.

I keep abreast of current weather conditions by tuning into the local NOAA radio frequency broadcast from our local airport. I listen carefully for the barometric pressure readings because I’ve found if the barometer is rising or falling as a weather front moves closer to our region, deer sightings will usually increase. If the barometer is falling and bad weather is predicted in a day or two then I’m confident I’ll see deer. From observing bird activity at the back yard feeder I can almost predict when a change in the weather is coming, and like the birds, whitetails react to this change. Deer seem to have a built-in mechanism telling them when weather conditions are about to change and they begin feeding more frequently just before the onset of bad weather.

This fact was dramatically brought to my attention about three years ago when a late October snow storm hit our area. As I recall, we got about five inches of snow and I decided I didn’t want to climb a tree with snow on my boots and ice on the stand platform. Safety won out that day but as far as hunting conditions go, I lost out. A day later when I was sure the ice on my stand platform would be gone I went back to my hunting site only to discover deer tracks all around the area. What’s more, my trail camera showed a beautiful 8-point casually feeding on the windfall apples that littered the ground.

I love hunting with a light mist falling, but deer seem to take cover under steady rain conditions. It’s the same when the wind frequently changes direction and blows strongly. The exception, of course, is in early to mid November when the rut may be on and deer, especially bucks, may be seen just about any time of day.

In my experience, I seem to see more deer when the leading edge of a weather front moves through and fewer after it arrives. Once the weather becomes settled again deer sightings improve. If you know the barometer is falling and a low pressure system is moving into your hunting area, plan on going hunting because that’s when whitetail activity will likely be high.

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