Define Ideal Hunting Conditions
Dr. John Woods 12.08.16
They say, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” and I would be the first to agree with that. So, too, everybody’s concept of the ideal atmospheric conditions for hunting varies widely as well. And then it differs with the type of game you are hunting.
For example, waterfowl hunters want a cold rain and a good wind to keep the ducks flying. Elk hunters like a light snow and standing waters frozen. Pheasant and quail hunters like sunny days with light winds and blue skies, maybe with a good early dew to wet the grass making dog noses work better. But what about white-tailed deer hunters? What weather works best?
Deer by nature move in every type of weather, daily conditions, temperatures, and relative humidities. This also depends on “normal” conditions where deer are hunted in the various habitat locations across the country. Deer act differently in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan than they do in South Texas, Louisiana, or Mississippi.
“Yooper” deer will move when it is ten degrees below zero up there, but a super cold front in the deep south will cause whitetail bucks to shut down and hide out in the cedar thickets. High winds typically cause all deer to be overly cautious, because they can neither hear nor smell precisely. Activity during wet conditions varies widely, but deer will move in light rains usually.
Deer like clear, crisp days when the crows fly high. Conversely they also seem to like cloudy days with an absent breeze. They will tolerate a breath of wind or a gust or two, but hunters in particular should always adhere to the wind directions for effective hunting successes. A light breeze can help bucks locate estrus does, so hunt then, but keep the wind in your face and spray down with scent killers.
Unusual or unseasonal weather anywhere can throw deer off normal behaviors. Ice and snow fronts in the south or very warm days in December will kill deer activity for a while. Eventually all deer have to get up to feed and drink, so monitor conditions accordingly.
Deer do not seem to be deterred by a heavy frost or a mildly cold day. You may have to hunt early or late to catch movements back and forth from bedding to feeding. The bottom line is always that a good day hunting is the one when you can go.