|Not enough snow to prohibit deer travel … yet
photo courtesy Dave Richey Outdoors ©2012
We’ve all grown up with the adult advice that too much of anything is never good for you. The primary examples used when I was a young man included such things as alcoholic beverages, tobacco and chasing wild women.
Most people realize that eating too much sweets, too many steaks or too much fried foods isn’t good for a person. Too much Thanksgiving turkey bloats a person and makes us drowsy.
This “too-much” attitude can apply to many things about deer hunting as well. Too much east wind, too many trips to the same stand, too many does in the herd … all of these things can be bad.
A chilling summer thought
Even though it is 80 degrees in early August, my thought processes are never far from deer. This leads me to wonder about snow. Can too much snow be a bad for hunters and for deer? The answer is a qualified “yes.”
Let’s take a look at the problem. Some parts of the state last winter were knee-deep in snow. What exactly are some of the problems associated with too much snow for hunters.
- The obvious thing is that too much snow can have a limiting effect on how deer travel. The more snow, the less the animals move out to feed. The less feeding that takes place means that deer are not as visible, and that isn’t good.
- Another problem with too much snow is it becomes more difficult for hunters to get around, and the result is many sportsmen stop going out. They dread the idea of hiking a half-mile through deep snow, and running the risk of a heart attack.
- We all know that snow makes things slippery, and it’s very easy for a boot to slide off a tree stand step or the ladder of a ladder stand. Snow blows, can obscure moving deer, and many hunters do not care to be out in the really nasty weather.
Too much snow causes problems for deer as well; Such as
- The deeper the snow, the less deer will move to feed. The deeper the snow, the more difficult it becomes for young deer to get around and to find food. Prolonged bouts of snowy weather and cold temperatures can lead to winter die-off or increased predation.
- Deer spend most of their time in heavy cover, and snow can obscure the view of a deer moving through thick underbrush. Those deer that do move may pay an inordinate amount of attention to a hunting blind. They may still hang back in a thicket and not move until after dark.
- It’s difficult to tell a buck from a doe in swirling snow. They same thing applies to foggy weather. A friend of mine shot two bucks last year by accident. They looked like does, which is what he was hunting, and he glassed the deer with binoculars, and then switched to a scope. He studied their heads and could not see antlers, but when he walked up to both animals, each was a nice buck. Their antlers were made invisible by fog hanging four feet off the ground.
Swirling snow can lead to taking a bad shot
One could make the argument that he shouldn’t have shot. However, long periods of studying both animals with binoculars and a high-powered scope failed to reveal antlers. He still wishes he hadn’t shot.
So here we are, just barely into August, and each day brings us closer to the hunt and the inevitable snow that follows.
A friend of mine from the Traverse City area had 20 inches of snow one day last year, four inches the next and the next, four inches again and about six inches the next day. If anyone is counting that is 34 inches several day, and it continued to pile up.
Many don’t seem to be aware of it, but two years ago we got 165 inches of snow that winter and about 120 inches last winter. Who knows what the weather will bring in several more month.
Granted, deer can head for the conifers where there is some thermal cover, but the combination of cold temperatures and increasingly deep snow, can place some young deer and mature breeding bucks in serious trouble early in the winter.
That, in a very bad winter, can become a death sentence for deer. And that is a chilling thought on a hot summer day.