The rut is finally in full swing. Hunters look forward to this natural cycle all year, and excitedly await its arrival. Weather and temperature have a tremendous effect on how the rut will play out, which will directly influence harvest numbers.
You can look long and hard, but you would be hard-pressed to find a deer hunter that gets excited when faced with unseasonably warm conditions. The two words that tend to discourage hunters the most, are surely “warm front!” It’s hard enough to get a big buck or doe under optimum conditions, add to that suppressed movement, and you have the recipe for tired legs or a sore butt. What can be done to gain the advantage under such conditions? The things you do may change the way you normally hunt. The sad truth is, you will likely have to work long and hard to bag a nice one.
Envision layering on enough clothes to keep yourself warm at below-zero temps, but it happens to be pushing 60 degrees outside. You would likely react as a deer would. The first thing you would do is limit movement as to decrease the amount of heat produced through exertion. The next step would be to seek out areas in which the sun can be avoided. If movement was necessary, you would likely choose to move at night to combat the heat. Deer react in the same manor, and do anything they can to avoid overheating.
By sunset on the first day of season last year, I had tagged out on a nice buck. Along with the harvest, I saw many deer moving. This was likely due to normal winter weather. This year, on the other hand, all I saw was small bucks and a few does. Unlike last year, the deer didn’t seem to be moving due to rutting activity; they seemed to be moving only due to pressure. The problem with this is that with less deer moving, fewer people were shooting. The lack of shooting was pushing less deer, resulting in a slow first two days. I remember when we used to get winter by early November. Snow on the ground was almost a guarantee, coupled with frigid temps. “Bwaah” to those who deny global warming. I distinctly remember the first day way back in 1993. It was frigid cold out and I counted over 300 shots by 8 a.m. The second day was about as good with over 200 shots heard by the same time. This year I only heard about 70 shots the first day, and 30 the second day by 8 a.m. Super slow in comparison to hunts of the past.