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The Highs and Lows of Deer Season...

10/23/2012

Every deer camp has the conversation as to what drives deer movement.  Moon phases, rut timing, weather patterns, etc., are all popular subjects.  Ten deer hunters in a given deer camp will offer up ten different reasons for why deer do what they do. Given that weather will impact your entire deer season and not just a few days or weeks I will conclude that weather patterns are the most popular conversation piece associated with deer movement.

When experts begin to offer up their theories as to what prompts deer movement there is usually discussion of “high pressure” and “low pressure” systems.  High pressure systems are typically associated with clear skies, breezy conditions, and more drastic temperature variations.  Low pressure systems are usually accompanied by cloudy skies, precipitation, and stagnant temperatures.

Within the last two weeks I have read writings by expert deer hunters who provided two completely different viewpoints to this discussion. Both of these experts have many, many trophy whitetails to their name and their credentials are without debate.  So how is it that one of these experts can say that a “high pressure system” is the best time to capitalize on deer movement and the other can say that deer move best when “low pressure” conditions are present? They both can’t be right can they??  The answer….Yes they can. 

I know this is confusing but let me offer up my explanation.  My observations over the years have led me to conclude that any weather pattern that “settles in” and remains constant for any length of time tends to curb deer movement.  The rapid rise or fall of the barometer seems to coincide with an increase in animal activity. When a storm is approaching deer activity seems to peak hours before its arrivial and this event has been well documented throughout history. Likewise, after a high pressure system moves in and the skies clear it seems to make the animals happy to have weathered the storm and prompts them to get out and enjoy the weather.  So, one can find an equal amount of success under either of these weather patterns provided that they are hunting during the initial onset of either system.  After a day or two of a similar pattern the deer will begin to show less urgency in their activity. So I think it boils down to your personal preference that drives ones opinion of which is better…High or Low.

This brings me to the current weather situation we find ourselves in here in the Midwest.  My forecast shows high temps in the upper 70’s for the next four days followed by a cold front bringing highs in the 40’s.  Not only are the 40 degree temps going to encourage movement for deer with their winter coats filling in, but the drastic swing in conditions will spur activity for a couple days.  Given the proximity to the rut, the testosterone levels peaking in the bucks, the chance for some early estrous does, and nearly a week of unseasonably warm weather; I believe that this weekend will produce a very high number of mature buck sightings.  There will be some smiling faces and trips to the taxidermist for many hunters who choose to climb a tree this weekend.  Good luck to all and shoot straight!!

Corey J. Wilkinson

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4 Comments on "The Highs and Lows of Deer Season..."

Re: The Highs and Lows of Deer Season...
Do you anticipate an early rut this year in Illinois?When is the prime rut in your region typically?
Posted by Austin on 10/23/2012 2:21:54 PM
Re: The Highs and Lows of Deer Season...
Austin, The peak breeding in the Midwest is generally mid-November. This will not change in any drastic fashion on any given year. I do believe that the moon phases can pull this peak from side to side in the calendar slightly. This year with the rutting moon on the 29th of Oct. I do believe that there will be more intense rutting activity at the end of Oct. and first week of November. It appears that the weather will be good during this time frame which should encourage a lot of daylight activity as well. Good luck!
Posted by Corey J. Wilkinson on 10/23/2012 5:15:16 PM
Re: The Highs and Lows of Deer Season...
When have you seen is the best time to rattle and start using drag rags? Is this weekend to early for that stuff?
Posted by Adam McCammack on 10/26/2012 7:36:57 AM
Re: The Highs and Lows of Deer Season...
Adam, The best time to call in a big whitetail is right now. If you see a big buck that is not going to come by you on natural movement don't hesitate to hit him with some calling. The effectiveness of calling will decrease once the chase phase begins which is roughly 10 days away. Around Thanksgiving calling will once again start to be productive. As far as drag rags I would start that right now. If for no other reason than to cover your boot tracks.
Posted by Corey J. Wilkinson on 10/26/2012 8:58:22 AM

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