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Deer Movement Related to Weather

Posted by 
November 8, 2012
Published in News & Tips > Hunting > Deer
2127   Comment
expert

After 20+ years of collecting data as a scientist and as an avid deer hunter, it’s obvious that hunters see more deer when the weather is changing. The trends show that the more abrupt the changes in weather, the more likely hunters are to see deer.

My most memorable observation related to deer and changing weather occurred during September 1989. I was studying deer behavior associated with rubs near Charleston, South Carolina. Hurricane Hugo was predicted to come on shore and the storm’s eye was to pass within miles of my study site. While I was making one last round to check the cameras used to monitor the rubs before the storm, I saw mature bucks, does, and fawns literally everywhere during the day. I saw them in fields, in food plots, in yards – everywhere. I had permission to hunt the property where I was doing research, but thought the power might go out for a day or two and opted not to harvest a deer. The eye of the storm almost center-punched the property where I was working and electricity wasn’t restored for six weeks.

Unquestionably the deer sensed the magnitude of the coming change in weather better than me. Rather than thinking about hunting, I should have been driving out of the storm’s path! No one knows how deer sense a pending change in weather. Several researchers, including myself, have attempted to understand how deer detect pending changes in weather. No researcher has published a definitive reason why deer increase activity substantially before or after some substantial changes in the weather.

Kansas Weather StatisticsWeather can’t accurately be predicted more than a few days (or hours) in advance. I know this all too well as I prepare today to return from a hunting trip in Kansas. I planned this trip months ago. I’ve spent the better part of this week thinking about this as the weather has been hotter than normal (setting some records), very low humidity, and extremely dry. I’ve seen a few does and fawns daily, but no mature bucks. The owner of the property where I’m hunting told me yesterday that he didn’t have a single trail camera image of a mature buck moving during the daytime this past week. He did say “You should have been here last week.” Dang, I really dislike hearing that phrase in relation to hunting!

I enjoy hunting and visiting with friends. However, my mission was to pattern and harvest a mature buck. I think I patterned the activity of mature bucks in this part of Kansas – moving almost exclusively at night. I could have predicted this activity pattern based on the weather. I simply couldn’t predict the weather months in advance. Often, when planning hunting trips, the biggest limiting factor in the equation is that the weather at a specific location can’t be predicted with any degree of accuracy.

I enjoy hunting new areas, learning the lay of the land, etc. I enjoy taking off from the truck with nothing except my bow, a stand and a map. However, I’d probably enjoy it more if the weather was changing to conditions favorable for mature bucks to be active during daylight hours. I’ll hunt again this morning, and then pull my stands and head home. The weather is clear, dry, and warm – perfect for driving. I couldn’t have planned that part better!

Growing (and hunting) Deer together,

From GrowingDeer.tv
Grant Woods

Tagged under Read 2127 times Last modified on July 29, 2013
Dr. Grant Woods
expert

Home: Republic, Missouri
Family: Tracy (wife), Raleigh & Rae (daughters)
Hobbies: Deer & turkey hunting, improving habitat, fishing
Rifle/Bow Preference: Whatever season is open!

Hunting Stuff

Years Been Hunting: I started rabbit hunting and trapping at 7, 45 years ago
Prefessional Affiliations:
The Wildlife Society, Archery Trade Association, Quality Deer Management Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Missouri Trappers Association, National Rifle Association
Hunting Strength:
Being a research biologist that specializes in white-tailed deer, I've been able to use my knowledge of deer behavior to help pattern mature bucks on a consistent basis.
Favorite Technique:
 Pattern a mature buck and then place a stand/blind or spot and stalk and end up at the same place as the buck without the buck knowing I'm present
Favorite Game to Hunt:
White-tailed deer & wild turkey
Favorite Hunting Gear: Nikon binoculars. Seeing game before they see me has been one of my best techniquesFavorite Places to Hunt: Missouri, Kansas and Texas
Favorite Places to Hunt:
My farm near Branson, MO. My favorite state to hunt besides MO is KS.
Favorite Season to Hunt:
Early turkey season and the pre-rut
Favorite Time to Hunt: Deer tend to be most active just before a substantial change in the weather — I really enjoy hunting food sources just before a major front.
Favorite Way to Hunt:
Favorite Gear:  

Career Highlights

Biggest Kill: 169" whitetail & several large wild boars
Greatest Hunting Achievement: 11 year old Kansas whitetail buck with a recurve bow after a long spot and stalk — shot at 7 yards
Favorite Hunting Moment: Watching my daughters take their first deer & turkeys

Dr. Grant Woods is a wildlife biologist specializing in deer management and research. He schooled at Missouri State University, University of Georgia, and received his Ph.D. from Clemson University. His success at conducting wildlife research, educating hunters about advanced hunting and management techniques, and designing site-specific management plans to improve deer herd quality is well known throughout the whitetail world. He is passionate about wildlife management and hunting and shares his knowledge with others via a weekly show on the web at GrowingDeer.tv and through events at Bass Pro stores as part of the RedHead Pro Hunting Team

 

Dr. Grant Woods is a wildlife biologist specializing in deer management and research. He schooled at Missouri State University, University of Georgia, and received his Ph.D. from Clemson University. His success at conducting wildlife research, educating hunters about advanced hunting and management techniques, and designing site-specific management plans to improve deer herd quality is well known throughout the whitetail world. He is passionate about wildlife management and hunting and shares his knowledge with others via a weekly show on the web at GrowingDeer.tv and through events at Bass Pro stores as part of the RedHead Pro Hunting Team

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