Opening Of Deer Season Is Upon Us

Since the first time a hunter stepped into the woods to chase a whitetail, the book on deer behavior started to be written. The search for knowledge on the whitetail deer is a lifelong passion for many of us.

The age-old question of what happens to wildlife when the weather changes or turns ugly has been debated since the invention of gunpowder.

The weekend and first week forecast look to be changing — from mid-60 degree temperatures the day before opening day to rain/snow through Thanksgiving — so, it will be an interesting opening weekend and first of the week.

These conditions are nothing new for Chautauqua County deer hunters. The key to filling your tags is knowing how to hunt the whitetail when the weather turns bad. The one thing that I will say is this: We all must remember that wild critters live in the outdoors 24/7, 365. Understanding what they do and when they do it keeps you ahead of the curve.

Attempting to outsmart or just ambush whitetail can be challenging at any time of the year, but when the weather turns ugly, it’s important to remember deer have to eat at some point. With bucks still chasing does, one never knows when a buck is going to make a mistake.

With some bucks still chasing does, food sources are going to be the best bet. Does will be hanging around food, and with this knowledge setting up on travel trails that run to and from those sources will work.

Bedding areas this time of year are going to be in thickets. These areas are going to be in some of the nastiest stuff around. Once deer begin being pressured, they look for safety and they find it in the thickets.

Working the wind properly when setting up will increase your odds on success. Many times, I see folks working a thick patch and not use the wind to their advantage. Always make sure which way the winds are blowing and use it to increase your odds.

Being mobile and flexible in your hunting style when the weather is changing is the key. Throw into the mix the rut, opening week and pressure and we all need to be able to change with the deer movement.

Hunters know when the wind is blowing and when it’s either raining or snowing, deer will keep their movement to a minimum and stay close to their bedding/safe areas. Critters that live in the wild use their hearing and sight more than any other of their senses. The deer’s main source of protection, their hearing, has taught them that they are in danger more when weather conditions are calm.

All sportsmen know that generally it’s best to be outside hunting just before a big front blows through. Most all of us know this, but using it to our advantage is what makes some sportsmen more successful than others.

From what I have been able to see from stick and string and gun hunters, some big bucks have been taken early with action slowing down in recent days. For whatever reason, I believe it has to do with the winters and good springs experienced here in Chautauqua County the past couple of years.

Teamed with the weather and good mass crops, which also have to do with light winters, the local wildlife population is in the best shape it’s has been in years.

If we all would spend more time thinking about what deer are going to do under particular conditions and changing our hunting style to see more deer, you also can be more successful.

From the Robbins’ house to you and yours, have a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.


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