Why am I Not Seeing Deer in the Late Season?
Dr. John Woods 01.18.21
Deer hunting seasons are winding down all across the country, but a few are still open. Winter weather has its grip on most hunting areas. It used to be that cold, snow, etc caused deer to move about freely, but something has changed in some areas. After several days of hunting, not seeing deer move is becoming more common. But why?
This past week in the Deep South, Ma Winter had her grip on the region. Temps dropped below seasonal norms and such a jolt to the system causes most deer to huddle tight to their bedding areas only to stand up to relieve themselves or to grab a little browse to sustain themselves until a warm up. Such deer behavior is not uncommon here in Mississippi where I have deer hunted since 1983.
I recently spent parts of three days inside an insulated shooting house hunting stand. Though I left my little propane heater back in the cabin, I stayed relatively comfortable. I had to open three windows in case I got a shot, and a steady cold breeze kept the interior chilled down. My feet got cold. I saw absolutely not one single deer of any kind. There also was nothing else moving — no squirrels, no rabbits, very few birds or anything. I did see a big flock of wood ducks headed to the swamp, and six geese. So, why weren’t animals moving?
Mainly those few days the weather had everything shut down. I contacted two other deer hunters within a 100 mile radius and they also reported not seeing deer. Blame it on the cold at least temporarily. That was number one on the list. Also add into the equation the constant wind and prevailing wet with high humidity. Deer don’t fancy those conditions either.
The rut is over and there was no sign of a secondary rut. I saw no fresh ruts, and no active scrapes. Nada. Actually, I saw few deer tracks in the camp road mud. Signs of very little movement when normally there would be plenty of such sign. That’s a big part of it.
These are the end days of the three month long season. Hunting pressure has been moderate in the surrounding area, but new hunters came in south of us. Some shooting could be heard across the property line. This is another add in factor to deer holding tight.
Numerous heavy frosts decimated the planted food plots. Native browse was reduced, too. Deer have to be operating at lower than normal energy levels. Bucks were tired from the rut, and hungry. Food was their number one concern and there was little of it of any quality or quantity. Therefore, not seeing deer is typical end of the year status for deer hunting. Right now, deer just do not show. Hunt harder, stay in the woods to monitor any final signs of deer movement.