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Hunting Cold Weather

Cold mornings make for great sunrises


In the southern portions of the United States, especially in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, we can and often do experience severe temperature changes during our whitetail seasons. Maximizing your opportunity during these temperature changes can often make your season.

Just a few weeks ago while hunting over a three day period I experienced days where the low was 21 degrees on day one to a low of 55 degrees on day three. High temperatures for these days also ranged from 45, to 75. Hunting whitetail deer during these extreme temperature changes can often be very challenging.

Dr. Mark Conner has been conducting a long range deer study in relation to weather. While his research facility is located on the eastern shore of Maryland, the findings are really interesting when considering how and when to hunt for mature bucks.

Dr. Connor radio collared several dozen bucks and tracked their movements using GPS technology. His findings indicated that temperature, more than any other contributing factor (outside breeding) related to deer movement in general and movement of big bucks in particular.

What this means for us is simple, during the fall and later season, forget hunting the “Indian summer” days it’s pretty much a waste of time. Dr. Connor determined that once bucks grow their winter coats, they seldom move very far from their bedding areas when temperatures are above 45 degrees. However, once the temperature drops below 45 degrees movements show a significant increase especially during daylight hours. And for hunters this is really all we care about.

The colder the better is often the case. Whitetail deer being mammals need a lot of food when the mercury drops. The process of eating and digesting food actually increases internal body temperatures. Deer will be feeding and feeding heavily when the temperature drops below freezing. But activity in general will definitely increase when its below 45 degrees.

So how do we hunt cold weather fronts, or any cold weather for that matter? We hunt harder and longer because the bucks will be moving! When deciding when to enter the woods in the often tumult temperature of autumn, when possible, choose the coldest days, or at the very least when the temperature is at or below 45 degrees and you will definitely see more bucks.