It’s felt like November here in the Midwest the last several days and I’m sure it has in many other places. The strong cold front at the beginning of the weekend brought big temperature drops for pretty much everybody east of the Rockies. It was so darn windy on the days that I got to get out this weekend that it seemed like it almost didn’t matter. It was cold, much colder than it has been here in Wisconsin, so I know deer were moving somewhere. Maybe they were sticking closer to their beds because it was so windy. I was sitting over a spot on some public land on Friday where there were at least 5 trails, if not more, that all converged in one spot with fresh tracks in them. And I felt like some of these trails were coming out of a suspected bedding area not far from me, but I sat most of the day and didn’t see a darn thing but a raccoon. That was one of my first times sitting most of the day and not seeing anything, and you guys know as well as I now do that it makes for a long day.
It’s an interesting subject to me though, how deer react to wind. I see videos of guys hunting with strong winds on both public and private lands and it’s obvious that you can still see success on those days. Some people argue that windy days are better than calm days. But then there are scenarios like mine where it seems like there isn’t a single deer in the woods on those windy days. There are obviously a lot of factors that could affect how a hunt goes on public land. In fact, from what my ears could tell there were lots of pheasant hunters out on this day, but I was pretty far away from them so not seeing a single deer in what seemed like a high deer traffic area still somewhat surprises me. And on the private land I hunt back home I have also had a tough time seeing activity on windy days. My Grandpa and I would often just get some work done until later if we woke up to a strong wind in the morning or even wait until the next day. Because for whatever reason it always seemed like the deer on that property just don’t move well in windy conditions. But again, I know they do move when it’s windy because I’ve seen plenty of guys have success when it’s windy, especially if cold air comes with the wind.
It’s had me thinking since my last hunt about how to manage windy conditions. And by the way, if it’s the rut I honestly would still be heading to the woods regardless of wind speed just because you never know. I feel that way about pretty much all weather factors: when it’s the rut, look at the wind direction, plan accordingly, and hunt. If there’s a hot doe in the area and a buck is searching, he’s not going to care if it not 15 degrees cooler than it was yesterday or if the wind is 10 mph faster than he would prefer. It’s time to breed and he’s got an opportunity! But let’s pretend we still care about wind speed regardless of time of season. My thinking is that the wind won’t keep them down forever, even if it does keep them down for a day. They have to feed and drink eventually, if it’s the rut they’re going to get out and breed eventually. So if you’re going to assume that wind is going to affect your hunting adversely, give a day or a day and a half at the most and get back out. That is how I would approach it. But that philosophy has no scientific background so you can take that as far as you think it will go.
Let’s talk about the weather.
The “big story” this week is a bit of a warm up for parts of the country. A fairly strong low pressure system will move across the northern part of the country out of northeastern Canada starting Wednesday morning. This low pressure will draw air northward from the Gulf of Mexico which will bring warmer temperatures as far north as southern Wisconsin. Some northern states will get into the mid 50s while parts of the deep south will climb up into the 70s and even low 80s by late week following another strong cyclone moving west to east. Now we know that while low pressure systems can bring warm fronts from the south, it can also bring cold fronts from the north after they move through. In meteorology we call low pressure systems “cyclones.” The first cyclone will bring enough warm air in to keep the cold front behind it from pushing very far south. However, the second cyclone will move across southern Canada and not bring the Gulf air as far north. This will allow the proceeding cold front to make a strong push into the US once again. Here’s what the GFS model thinks this will look like:
We can see the first cyclone move across the northern US Wednesday morning. It will draw up the warm air and then bring in a cold front to near northern Tennessee before stalling and warmer air surges north again ahead of the next cyclone. The second cyclone forms in the northern Rockies on Sunday morning but takes a more northerly track, which helps to not draw as much warm air north and allows a stronger cold front to move in. Sunday will likely be especially warm for this time of year for many areas before the next cold front cools things back down. If you read last week’s forecast discussion you saw my discussion of high pressure and how it affects deer. If you didn’t read it, long story short, I tend to not pay attention to pressure when I plan hunts because I don’t think the deer do either. Read last week’s discussion if you want my explanation why. But, if you’re still a firm believer in hunting high pressure, it will be high pressure galore behind next week’s front.
It won’t be totally dry this week but it shouldn’t be particularly wet for most areas either. The Gulf air surging northward will bring moisture to the south and eastern US which will lead to some showers mid-week through the weekend. The stronger second cold front will also likely bring in some precipitation as it moves through.
Southeast Texas looks like it could get a decent soaking this week. The area will see storms Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday. Areas north and east of here will see periodic scattered showers, possibly some storms through Friday.
The great lakes region looks like it could be wet for a couple days early next week as well.
If you’re looking at days to take off for the rut I don’t have a clear-cut answer for you. If it were me and I could pick and choose between this week and next week, I would take early this week (through Wednesday morning) or early next week. That is assuming you are discouraged by warmer temperatures. Next week probably won’t stay cold all week. The current pattern promotes repetitive cyclone development, which will likely continue to bring these ups and downs for the next week or two. There will be some great rut weather mixed in there though. Get out and get after them!
I will be talking to John Stallone (The Hunting Channel online, Interviews With the Hunting Masters, Days in The Wild) on his podcast tomorrow (10/31) afternoon about weather and deer hunting. That will go up some time this week, and when it does I will post it here to the site if you want to listen.