Thursday, September 20, 2007

Deer Scouting Is Tough In Hot Weather

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Make no mistake about it. Hot-weather scouting for whitetails is not a walk in the park. It can be downright brutal at times.

Tonight was a good example. I returned to a spot I’d last studied two weeks ago. Back then, the area produced the sighting of five bucks one evening, and one buck was a dandy.

Two weeks ago it was much cooler than tonight. It was in the 80s tonight, and although a soft breeze was blowing, it felt like a hot puff of wind off the Sahara Desert. My expectations for the evening were met.

I never saw a deer. None moved to my location even though I took all possible precautions to avoid being seen, heard or winded. It didn’t help; the deer seemed content to remain in thick cover and bedded down. I didn’t see a deer walking in, walking out or while sitting in a tree. Two hen turkeys and some songbirds were the sum and substance of my evening afield.

It made me wish I’d went fly fishing for Chinook salmon instead. At least the water around my waders would have been cooler. Does this mean I’ve mentally checked this location off my go-to list for bow hunting?

Absolutely not. The spot holds deer and at least one big buck. There are other people who hunt around here but they don’t work as hard at hunting as I do. This is as serious as a train wreck to me.

My father, who passed away last October at the age of 94, never could understand my fascination with whitetails. If it was raining or snowing, he didn’t think I should be out in the weather. I’d tell him the deer are out in the rain and snow, and sooner or later they have to move, and for me to be successful it’s important that I’m out there to greet the animals when they do move. He’d shake his head, and probably wondered how he wound up with a kid as nuts as me. I told him that he just got lucky.

That same analogy applies to hot weather. Deer eventually get up and move around when the weather turns hot. Alabama and Texas are two states that I’ve often hunted, and if hot weather meant that much to whitetails, hunters in those states would never shoot a buck or doe. The fact is that deer, like humans, learn to adapt to what weather conditions are handed to them.

They can’t escape the heat, cold, rain, snow or wind. It’s out there, and hunters must learn to cope with what weather conditions come our way. We can gripe and complain when the wind is out of the east or a squall line moves through with a downpouring rain or a heavy snow falls, but the deer cope and we must do the same.

My evening up in the air was hot and miserable, and I discovered a hornet nest just 15 feet away. I learned many years ago to ignore the insects, and they often will ignore you. Hornets buzzed around my head but I was dressed in camo clothing, and was wearing a face mask and brown jersey gloves. Perhaps they could have stung me, but I didn’t swat at them, and they seemed to extend the same courtesy to me.

Wish there was more to report, but no such luck tonight. The photo above was taken last year of this nice buck, and to the best of my knowledge, he is still out there. This is the one I’ll be hunting. Wish me luck, and think cooler weather for the opener.

Posted by Dave Richey on 09/20 at 07:56 PM
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