Just like human beings, whitetail deer behavior is dependent on the weather. To put it simply, deer move when the weather changes. This means that there isn’t really a best barometric pressure for deer hunting. Instead, you should hunt when barometric pressure is starting to drop or climb back up. Both high- and low-pressure systems have specific techniques, so learning how to hunt each of these situations can give you an extra edge.
What Is Barometric Pressure?
Barometric pressure just refers to the atmospheric pressure of the air in a certain spot. You will usually see it either measured in bars or more commonly inches of mercury, or inHg. The normal barometric pressure at sea level is about 1 bar or 30 inHg.
In a specific place on Earth, barometric pressure doesn’t actually vary all that much, usually no more than 1 or 2 inHg either way. Still, it has big implications for the weather. If you’ve watched your local weather reports, you probably know that low pressure is associated with bad weather and high pressure with good weather, but why?Basically, in a low-pressure system, air from outside areas of higher pressure rushes in, pushing local air upwards. As the air travels upwards, it cools. Water condenses into clouds and then falls as rain.
In a high-pressure system, the opposite happens. Air is pushed out, causing air above to sink down and replace it. This air warms and is therefore dryer, meaning fewer clouds and more sun.
Okay, But What Does Barometric Pressure Have to Do With Deer?
Obviously whitetails don’t keep barometers in their bedding areas and don’t care in the least about minor changes in the inHg measurement. What they care about is the weather.
Like humans, deer can definitely tell when a storm is coming on or trailing off even if they can’t exactly articulate it in terms of barometric pressure. And like humans, deer activity changes depending on the weather. More so really since they don’t have houses and cars to protect them from the rain.
This is why it’s not a specific air pressure or barometric reading that’s ideal for hunting deer. Rather, it’s the changes in pressure you should pay attention to.
Hunting Low-Pressure Systems
When the barometric pressure is dropping, it means temperatures are getting colder and a storm is coming. Deer don’t like getting caught in the rain any more than anyone else, so they’ll be more active during this time. Specifically, just like everyone in town runs to the grocery store before the storm hits, deer will try to eat as much as they can when a low-pressure moves in so they can endure an extended time in their bedding areas.
As a result, hunting a low-pressure system can be fruitful, just as long as you hunt the start of the cold front. Right when the pressure starts dropping, it’s a great time to be in your stand over the feeding areas or food plots. As the pressure continues to drop, you can hunt trails as the deer head to their bedding areas.
However, you can’t wait too long. As the storm gets closer, the deer take shelter and don’t move at all. In other words, I’d recommend hitting the stand as soon as your barometer starts to drop. You can also use your own intuition and start hunting when you feel the first bites of a storm like the first gusts of cool wind.
Hunting High-Pressure Systems
When the pressure on your barometer begins to increase after a storm, this is another good time to be in the tree stand. After spending days cooped up, the deer are hungry and ready to feed. As you might guess, then, the best time to be there is as soon as the storm lets up enough for the deer to finally get a bite.
Honestly, the best way to take advantage of oncoming high-pressure systems is to head to your tree stand while the storm is still active. If you can handle a little rain, set up just as the storm is trailing off. Be tougher than the deer, and you’ll catch them moving once the storm has fully passed.
So Which Should You Hunt?
You can take advantage of both incoming high- and low-pressure systems as long as you’re focusing on the transitional period and hunting the change in pressure itself. Personally, I like hunting when the pressure is increasing and a storm is moving out.
That’s because deer movement is more consistent during these times, and if you brave the weather, you’re unlikely to miss it. Meanwhile, when the pressure is dropping and a storm is moving in, deer movement is slightly more chaotic, and it’s harder to estimate at exactly what point during the transition period they’ll be moving.