Wind’s Surprising Effects on Deer Movement

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With more than 1,600 readers responding to the survey, many had the same idea of how wind would change deer movement! Nearly everyone was sure that a windy day would affect deer movement in some way. And almost 90% of readers thought deer would move less if the day was windy.

But at what level of wind did readers think deer would be affected? We gave you the following choices to choose from:

1. Light breeze (wind felt on face, leaves rustle, vanes begin to move) 2. Gentle breeze (leaves and small twigs constantly moving, light flags extended) 3. Moderate breeze (dust, leaves, and loose paper lifted, small tree branches move) 4. Fresh breeze (small trees begin to sway) 5. Strong breeze (larger tree branches moving, whistling in wires) 6. Near gale (whole trees moving, resistance felt walking against wind)

More than half of you thought deer movement wouldn’t be affected until winds are strong. About 20% thought a moderate breeze would be enough to affect the deer. The remaining responses were pretty equal for gentle breeze, fresh breezes, and near-gale winds.

Deer-Forest Study

But how did wind really affect the deer?

To interpret the data, we calculated the miles each deer traveled during the day and night throughout the month of October (more than 1,700 deer-days/nights).

We looked at the weather data provided by NOAA and categorized wind levels loosely according to the Beaufort Winds Scale – a scale created in the 1800s by the Royal Navy to record wind speeds.

October 2013 wasn’t a particularly windy month – top wind speeds were only 12 mph – so we couldn’t use the entire scale. Here is how we categorized the wind speeds.

See also  How To Smoke Wild Boar Meat There are many different opinions on how to properly smoke meat. This is what has worked in my experience, but there are certainly other successful methods. Experiment and have fun.Working muscles (shoulders, ribs and legs) benefit most from long slow cooking methods like smoking or braising.The basic issues to control when smoking meat are:1. Maintain a low cooking temperature2. Maximize moisture retention in the meat.Low Cooking TemperatureI keep my cooking temperature around 200°F - 225°F. The goal is to slowly raise the internal temperature of the meat to 180°F and then hold it there for about an hour. “Slow and low” is the mantra. Cooking time will be about 1.5 – 2 hours per pound of meat, but can vary based on thickness and whether or not it’s bone-in or bone-out.Many recipes will tell you to pull the meat when it reaches an internal temperature of 190°F or even 200°F. That advice works because it takes about an hour for a modest size piece of meat to increase from 180°F to 190°F. I would not recommend going much higher than that for very long because you begin to lose moisture in the form of steam.Lower cooking temperatures of 180°F - 200°F can be used to great success, but the cooking time will be much longer. Cooking at temperatures above 250°F is not recommended because the meat cooks too quickly causing increased moisture loss and does not allow ample time for the collagen to break down (it makes for dry, tough meat).Why 180°F internal temperature?Meat contains muscle fibers and connective tissue (collagen). It is the collagen that makes the working cuts “tough and chewy” when not properly cooked. Collagen does not break down into liquid gelatin until it reaches 180°F. You must break down that collagen by getting the internal temperature to at least 180°F and stay there for about 1 hour. Once you’ve broken down the collagen you will have fork tender meat.Moisture RetentionMoisture retention is especially important when smoking wild game meats because they are typically much leaner than other meats.Brining   – Moisture can be added to the meat prior to cooking by brining it. Moisture will still cook out of your meat, but since you’re starting with more moisture the end result will be juicier. A basic brine recipe is 1 cup of table salt per 1 gallon of water. Subtle flavorings can be infused into the meat by including sugar (1/2 cup per 1 gallon of water), garlic cloves, onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, herbs, or just about anything else. However, the primary purpose of brining is to increase the moisture content of the meat prior to cooking. Stir the salt into the water until it dissolves. For large quantities it may be necessary to heat the water to make the salt dissolve. (If you do heat the brine it must be cooled off again prior to adding the meat.) Add the meat and allow it soak for several hours in the refrigerator. For shoulders and legs (2 - 6 lb pieces) soaking overnight is just right. When the soak is finished remove the meat from the brine, briefly rinse it under cold water and then pat dry. Add your rub/spices and you’re ready to cook.Injecting   – Some inject their meat with liquid and spices prior to cooking. Like brining, this increases the moisture content prior to cooking so there will be more moisture left in the meat when it is finished.Basting   – Basting is done by periodically coating the meat with liquid to add moisture and flavor as it cooks. Just about any liquid will do as long as it is low in sugar. Sugar burns quickly so only add glazes and BBQ sauces (which are loaded with sugar) during the last 20 minutes of cooking and only long enough from them to firm up.Barding   – Covering the meat with fatty bacon or other fats while it cooks is another technique. This is typically used on very lean meats that lack sufficient natural fat so the bacon acts as a substitute. This is a great way to add fat and moisture during the cooking process, but I also find that you end up tasting bacon more than the meat.Wrapping   – Once the meat has smoked for a few hours and absorbed a sufficient quantity of smoke flavor the meat can be tightly wrapped in foil. This wrap will reduce moisture evaporation into the open air and keep the juices close to the meat (acting more like a braise than BBQ). It’s also a great way to capture the juices for use in a sauce. If you want a crispy exterior (a “bark”) then don’t use a foil wrap and cook a little longer. If you want some insurance on getting a tender, moist final product then use the wrap.Smoke and WoodWood Choice   – Just about any hardwood will do. Oak and hickory are some of the most popular and most commonly available. Mesquite, maple and fruitwoods can add a sweetness to the meat, but don’t overdo it. Herb woods like basil, rosemary and thyme can be used in small quantities to add a deeper flavor profile. Avoid softwoods (evergreen trees) because the high resin levels will give your meat an unpleasant taste.Smoke Ring   – The “smoke ring” is a reddish/pink coloration just under the surface of the meat. It’s formed by a chemical reaction between the nitrogen dioxide in the smoke and the myoglobin in meat (which creates nitric acid and colors the meat). A good smoke ring is prized in BBQ because it usually indicates that the meat was successfully cooked slowly at a low temperature. The smoke ring gradually forms until the meat (just under the surface) reaches 140°F, then the formation stops. The thickness of your smoke ring depends on how long it takes for the meat to reach this temperature. Knowing how a smoke ring forms gives us two practical applications:1. To maximize your smoke ring take the meat directly from the refrigerator to the cooker. Conventional wisdom instructs you to bring the meat to room temperature before cooking, but starting straight from a cooler temperature will give your meat more time to develop a smoke ring.2. Since smoke ring formation stops at 140°F you only need to worry about generating smoke for the first 4 hours of cooking (roughly). After that the meat will not be absorbing any more smoke flavor or coloring. After 4 hours, just concentrate on keeping a steady low temperature until the meat is done.The Oven OptionNot everyone is blessed with the time, space, and/or patience to play with a smoker. Take heart - you can still get good results with an oven.Heat your oven to 200°F - 225°F. Wrap the meat in foil. Put it in the oven until done as described above. About 1.5 - 2 hours per pound.If you want smoke flavor use your smoker/BBQ pit for the first 1 - 2 hours to infuse some smoke flavor into the meat. Then finish the cooking in the oven. If you don't have a smoker or don't want to bother with it - skip this step. It will still be good. Written by Chris Hughes Filed under cooking,  cooking tips,  learn,  recipe,  smoke,  wild boar Tweet

Calm: Winds less than 1 mph Light Air: Winds between 1 and 3 mph Light Breeze: Winds between 4 and 6 mph Gentle Breeze: Winds between 6 and 10 mph Moderate Breeze: Winds above 10 mph

We then analyzed deer movement at each of these levels during the day and at night, and split the data into males and females.

And what did the data tell us? Well, it was pretty surprising! It seems that for both males and females, deer move MORE during a windy day, but they’ll move LESS during a windy night!

The graphs below estimate the mean miles traveled per day/night by the deer. As you can see, both males and females move more during the day when it is windy (a tenth of a mile or more), but will move less during a windy night (about a tenth of a mile less)!

Deer-Forest Study

The squares are the average distance traveled and the vertical lines represent the variability about the mean (95% confidence intervals).

Deer-Forest Study

Deer-Forest Study

Deer-Forest Study

Even more interesting, it seems these movements are affected as soon as there is even light air movement occurring. Most readers thought deer movement wouldn’t be altered until a “strong breeze,” or winds of speeds around 25 mph, but our data shows deer moving more during the day (or less during the night) with the presence of even just light air movement!

So there you have it! Wind definitely affects deer movement, but maybe not in the way you thought!

-Leah Giralico

Leah is an undergraduate in the College of Agricultural Sciences working towards her B.S. degree in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>