There are many mysteries relating to deer movement that hunters have attempted to unravel, but the most interesting has probably been how and when deer move. When I'm sharing a camp with other hunters, it seems that I always hear stories of spotting game--or, no one got much action. If movement is heavy one day, the following is almost certainly a day to bring a good, thick book to keep you awake.
If I could only determine ahead of time which days would yield the heaviest movement, I would know which days to develop a terrible, contagious sickness; that way it would be easier to determine when I need to call my boss and when to surprise him by showing up to work during hunting season. It seems as though there is a switch in the woods somewhere that controls movement, but locating it is the issue. In looking further into the matter and consulting with some of the whitetail experts I often hunt with, I'd hoped for a simple answer. As with all issues relating to whitetails, however, nothing comes easy.
Some hunters swear by moon phase and moonrise charts, while others use the daily news and long-range weather forecasts. Looking back through my logs of the bucks I've killed, I am confident that the moon cannot totally predict whitetail behavior--nor can barometric pressure or long-range weather reports, but all have a role. Weather reports for the next 24 to 48 hours seems to be the best local indicator.
Tracking The Weather
Scientists can tell you exactly when the moon will rise and which phase it will be in decades from now. Unfortunately, they forget to tell the bucks, so they will know when they are supposed to be romping around. However, Mother Nature sends out signals--regularly--that we can feel as well, and to a degree predict a day or two ahead of time: wind, precipitation and temperature. These three are the whitetail hunter's trifecta for success.
>>Wind: Most hunters I know pull the covers tight and give the alarm clock a right honorable incineration before the hours of daylight in windy conditions. I, on the other hand, find windy conditions ripe for harvesting a buck. A few seasons ago, while hunting in southern Ohio, I took a dandy 12-point in a wind that was gusting in the high forties. Being prone to motion sickness, I decided to forgo climbing a tree, and opted for a ground blind that would suppress my scent in swirling conditions. I'll admit that this was an extreme case, and the rut was peaking, too--but several other hunters in camp were sorry later on that they had put their money on an evening hunt instead.
I do most of my whitetail hunting in the Midwest, and this has proven rather reliable for me. However, I realize that this may be more of a regional phenomenon than a universal fact. I have talked with several respected whitetail enthusiasts and guides from regions in Canada who swear that hunter success rates are directly inverse to wind speeds. When the wind kicks up, opportunities are reported to plummet. Still, if you have the opportunity, I would not give up a chance to hunt based solely on the wind.