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The Weather Man Lies to Hunters

11/22/2011
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As I flipped the calendar in my office to November 2011, I began to prepare for my pending vacation.  I spent much of my time abusing my internet privileges to study the weather forecast on every available weather site on my favorites list.  That would be six different sites in case you were wondering.  The extended forecast for Nov. 9th (my first day of vacation) in West Central Illinois was looking pretty good.  Highs around 50 and lows at the freezing mark.  Bucks should be very active under these conditions so my anticipation was high.

The days slowly crept by as my hunt drew near until finally Nov. 7th rolled around.  This would be the eve of my departure for Illinois.  Before I began to pack all of my gear for my trip, I gave the forecast another once over.  Of course each weather site provides you a slightly different forecast but in general their range is similar.   The forecast was as follows: Highs 48-51 degrees and lows 29-32 for the first three days of my hunt.  The middle two days were going to jump up to around 60 degrees for the daytime highs (which is warm for the rut but tolerable). Day 6 was looking to be an all day soaker with temps in the 50’s as a front moved through.  Finally, the last two days of my hunt were predicted to be awesome with a high pressure system moving in bringing clear skies and highs in the 40’s and lows in the 20’s.  I was very excited with this forecast and began to pack accordingly.

Now any smart hunter who is going to be gone for 8 days knows to not trust the weather man 100 percent.  But given my 20 years of hunting that region of Illinois combined with the forecast, and my vigilant study of the weather patterns leading up to my hunt; I felt that I could pack my gear with a fair amount of accuracy.  I had some cold weather fleece gear suitable for temps down into the teens, I had some lighter weight fleece gear suitable for temps in the 40-60 degree range, and I also packed some mid-weight fleece gear that is rain proof for those potentially dreary days.  In addition to these outer garments I included my cold gear base layers, some fleece scent control liners, and a scent control shirt.  Finally, two different pairs of boots rounded out my wardrobe.  A pair of 800 gram insulated rubber boots and a pair of 1400 gram insulated cold weather boots.

Now, can anyone reading this honestly accuse me of not properly packing given the information presented?  Would you think that the weather forecast could change so dramatically that I would not be prepared?  Well, you and I were both wrong! 

The first couple days of the hunt the forecast was spot on. Congratulations Weather Man!   As day 3 rolled around, however, the weather took a turn for the worst.  The high temp climbed to at least 5 degrees above the forecasted temperature.  This wasn’t enough to make me uncomfortable but was cause for concern.  Day 4 greeted me with some temperatures in the mid 60’s.  This pushed my lightest weight outer layer to limits of my comfort zone.  The weather man was now telling me that Day 5 was going to be a rough one at 70 degrees.  Out of all the clothing in my gear bag I had no outer wear that was going to be comfortable at that temperature.  Of course I had piles of clothes 5 hours away that would be suitable for these conditions but who would’ve thought that they would be needed during this trip. So as I sat in the stand on my all day vigil I started to cook to a nice “medium” at around noon, “medium well” set in at around 3pm, and I was “well done” mentally and physically by the time I exited the woods that evening.  When I got back to civilization I discovered that the mercury rose to 76 degrees during the day; which is great weather for anyone NOT hunting, but terrible for those of us who were.  Following this miserable day I was given the opportunity to hunt two more days of 60 plus degree weather and 25 mph winds.  Finally, as I rose out of bed on my 8th straight morning I was greeted with the cold weather that was suppose to arrive days earlier.  Unfortunately for me I could only put in a half day hunt before I needed to put my truck in the direction of Iowa.

Although I will never understand why all the weather men conspired against me to put together this fictional 10 day forecast, I was no doubt taking the brunt of their jokes when they all got together for drinks following my hunt.  We will see who has the last laugh though, because next year when I go on my hunting trip to Illinois I will be prepared for whatever they throw at me from 15 to 80 degrees. Please take a lesson from me and bring more clothes on your hunt than you possibly need, because the next time it may be you who he is lying to.  If you do happen to run into that weather man tell him that I am looking for him.

Corey J. Wilkinson

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