Most of my hunting buddies throughout the whitetails range are talking about the slow start to the 2011 hunting season. Sure there have been some great bucks harvested, but the season seems slow overall. I was hunting yesterday and watched a yearling and a two year old buck work a scrape. However, I’m not seeing as many scrapes as normal for this time of year. Scrape behavior is not the only thing that is late this fall. It hasn’t frosted yet in southern Missouri, Kentucky, etc. The normal frost date for that latitude is about October 10-15. There is no frost predicted in the seven day forecast. It seems there is usually a burst of deer (and deer hunter) activity when the first strong cold front occurs.
There is not a tested and proven scientific reason to why deer tend to move more when the first strong cold front occurs each fall. However, I think it is as simple as deer having their winter coat and not being as comfortable moving when the air temperature is warm. In addition, before the first frost, many forage plants are still growing which means there are multiple sources of food. Once the temperatures decrease significantly, I suspect it is more comfortable for deer to be active. In many areas, they will have to search for food more as some sources of forage were killed or became unpalatable after the frost. I want the bucks where I’m hunting to feel the need for more fuel. For this reason and more, I always welcome the first frost.
On the other hand, it has recently rained at my place. The wheat I had planted has germinated and grown some, but not much. Another week without a frost will allow the wheat to produce many more pounds of forage. That will make for some great hunting later this season and provide more high quality forage for the local deer herd. So from that point of view, I’m glad it hasn’t frosted yet.
I’ll go hunting whether it frosts or not. However, I don’t plan to hunt my best stand locations until a weather change occurs and I believe daytime deer activity increases. It’s always tough to schedule a vacation to hunt a critter whose daytime activity level is so tied to the weather – which can’t be accurately predicted more than a few days in advance.
When the first cold front occurs, I suspect I’ll stop hearing from some of my hunting buddies. They will be too busy hunting to visit – and so will I.
Growing Deer together,