Today’s Tip: Hunting Deer in a Storm
In an earlier post I talked about the impact of an incoming storm on deer behavior. Once the storm has arrived, you need to change your tactics again. While deer don’t mind softly falling snow flakes or moderate rain, heavy precipitation, especially when coupled with a driving wind, will cause deer to seek shelter and hunker down for the storm. While the weather may not seem ideal for hunting, it does give you an advantage if you know what to do.
The first thing to do is recognize those areas where deer will take shelter. If you are familiar with the area, you have an advantage over other hunters. If you are not familiar with the area, use a topo map from your hunting gear or study the lay of the land. In an area with bluffs or rolling hills, look for gullies, hollows, and hillsides protected from the direction of the wind, with over head cover a big plus, especially conifers as they will help retain body heat closer to the ground.
In flatter terrain or farm country, deer will seek the best shelter they can find, which may be shelter belts, small depressions in the land, fence rows, cattails, or the corners of irrigated fields where brush tends to grow. They will still try to find as dry a place as they can, so the thicker the cover, the better. Don’t overlook what may seem like insignificant shelter, a big buck can hide in a very small space.
Another advantage of hunting in these conditions is that the moisture, whether rain or fresh snow, will silence your footsteps. Gusty winds make it more difficult for deer to hear and smell you. While these conditions will also put deer on higher alert, the advantage remains on your side.
Even with all of these factors in your favor, stalking in on a sedentary buck (either laying down or simply standing still as deer sometimes do in a pouring rain) requires a great deal of stealth. Move quietly, glass surroundings often, and move slowly in rhythm with the rustling wind to hide your movements.
In times of strong wind, it is best to approach perpendicular to the wind rather than straight into since most deer prefer to lay with their backs to the wind and their eyes downwind. Also keep in mind that deer tend to bed toward the edges of cover or with a visual lane so they can try to keep an eye out for incoming predators.
Be sure when hunting in these conditions to always have adequate survival gear, and follow the basic rules of survival, like letting someone know you are going out to chase a buck in a driving storm.