John’s Note: When you do everything right on your hunt, why doesn’t a buck show up when you expect him? We all often ask this question, but we rarely get a satisfactory answer. About 90% of the deer harvested each season are taken while moving and feeding. Rarely will a hunter find and take a bedded-down buck. If you know when, why, where and how deer move, you more realistically can predict when the buck should come in to you.
Ronnie Groom, an avid deer hunter and deer seminar instructor from Panama City, Florida, primarily hunts in the South and says, “During a cool morning when the temperature drops below 32 degrees, I’ve found that deer become more active than during stable temperatures.” So, watch for the weather front. The weatherman probably has the best information on when you should get in your tree stand. According to David Hale of Knight and Hale Game Calls (http://www.knightandhale.com), “Just before a weather front comes through an area, deer seem to move more than when the front hits. We know deer feed heavily before bad weather.”
* Hunt short days more than long days. Hale also has discovered that the length of day seems to have some bearing on when deer move. “I tend to see more deer movement, especially bucks, during shorter days than longer days,” Hale explains. “Many factors may tend to influence this assumption, such as the time of the rut, the availability of food, hunting pressure, etc. However, I’ve observed in most states, hunters bag more big bucks at the end of the season when there’s fewer daylight hours than at the beginning of the season.”
* Hunt the fields on windy days. If you have an option of hunting in the woods on a windy day or hunting in the fields, hunt the fields. Dr. Karl Miller, a deer professor at the University of Georgia, believes that on windy days deer often move into fields because they can’t trust what they hear in the woods with their ears. If while hunting, a windstorm kicks up, you may want to consider hunting the trails that lead to open fields just inside the wood line.
* Understand the three wind conditions. As Ronnie Groom explains, “I don’t believe that a light wind influences deer movement at all. I believe that a medium wind tends to make deer bed down because their senses of smell, sight, and hearing get impacted to some degree. A heavy blowing wind seems to make deer very nervous, and they may jump up and run for no reason. I’ve found that on very windy days, deer tend to hold in thick cover and try to dodge danger.” David Hale says, “On very windy days, I believe that bucks will bed down until nightfall, since they don’t have to worry about hunters after dark.” On a windy day, you may prefer to take a nap or wait until the wind calms down.
* Know what deer will do in the rain. Dr. Miller explains that, deer will move in a light rain, however, in a heavy rain, they either won’t move or will move very little. David Hale seems to concur with Miller. But Hale admits he loves to hunt in a light rain. “I believe that deer love rain. Apparently the rain makes them feel more comfortable. Deer seem to like to stand up and walk around in the rain. But they hate a heavy downpour and will seek some type of cover. I’ve taken plenty of deer in a gentle rain. I’ve noticed that bucks seem to have some type of internal clock that tells them when the rain will stop. I’ve watched bucks stand near a scrape for five to 10 minutes after the rain almost has stopped or stopped completely and then freshen-up the scrape. I believe you’ll experience the most hunting success 30 minutes before the rain stops until 3 hours after it ends.”
To get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and print books on hunting deer, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows,” or to prepare venison, “Deer & Fixings,” click here.
For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from http://johninthewild.com/free-books.