Drastic 36 Hour Weather Cold Front Deer Movement Influence


*The video above discusses some of the factors that I rely on, when using the weather to accurately predict deer movement. I also discuss these factors in depth along with several examples, in my Annual Rut Forecast.

36 Hour Life Of A Whitetail In A Cold Front

Sure, no one really knows what a goes thru the mind of a whitetail during a major cold front, but that’s where a little science, decades of experience and a necessary does of common sense, goes a very long ways! There are 2 important details that you need to know, to form the basis of predicting the activities of a deer during a cold front: Deer feed 5 times in a 24 hour period and deer are creatures of stress. Both stress and feeding times rule the daily lives of whitetails, and both of those details are greatly enhanced when a storm of 36 hours or more comes blowing thru. However, you have to have created the conditions for an effective cold front hunt!

If you have either spooked deer off of your evening food sources more than a handful of times during the entire season, hunted during the morning hours and spooked deer out of their bedding areas or just plain don’t have the food and cover options needed for the time of the season, it doesn’t matter how great the weather is, you are fighting an uphill battle. But if you have planned for an evening sit over an un-pressured late season food source – sit back, enjoy and get ready!

1. 0 To 12 Hours From Feeding To Bedding

With the barometric pressure falling and Easterly winds on the rise, whitetails know that something is brewing just around the corner. I have experienced that whitetails sure seem to know just how severe an approaching storm may be, as well. However, rest assured it doesn’t take long for deer to know that they need to get a last bite to eat before retreating to a location to weather the storm.

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Hunting Effect: On the front side of a major storm, the first few hours of change can carry decent hunting opportunities, as deer tend to sneak a brief but intense chance to feed. If the feeding time is the afternoon feeding, which is often the largest of all feeding after being holed up in lower quality bedding browse all day, then this may be the first of 5-7 feedings that are severely diminished by the storm. As winds increase and stress levels begin to rise, whitetails will often make a hasty retreat to begin holding tight during the storm. If you are in hill country, you can count on whitetails being pushed off the wind-exposed tops and slopes, to seek shelter from the storm, regardless of which direction the shelter actually faces.

2. 13-24 Hour Energy Depletion

Once a powerful cold front is fully underway, whitetails move very little, in fact, they not move at all for 10 to 12 hours or more. During WI’s 2003 gun season late Fall storm, I observed a massive 8 point at 234 yards (with the laser), bedding on the neighbor’s land across the hollow. Literally, he moved so little that the following day when I returned to the stand, I half expected him to still be there, dead and frozen. Of course the skies were clear, the storm had passed and the mature buck was gone, but boy that buck had truly chose to hunker down out of the wind for the entire day, while the snow was flying and the winds were at their worst.

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Hunting Effect: During the peak hours of the storm, multiple quality feeding opportunities are either severely squashed or eliminated. With deer feeding 5 times per day as rhythmic pattern feeders (like human babies), every reduced feeding period adds to a reduction in energy levels. With wind and swirling scent creating stress related energy loss, the drop in temperatures and missed feeding times, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to calculate that deer are beginning to feel the hunger pains. This is a very poor time to choose to hunt, because unless a whitetail is unwittingly caught in the open, they have every reason to conserve energy, and stay put.

3. 25-36 Hours From Hunger Pains to Feast

One of the greatest opportunities for you as a whitetail hunter, is to make sure that you don’t miss the feast that takes place when high pressure takes over, skies clear, the woods are gripped in cold and the winds significantly settle down. No matter what time of the season, deer will be on their feet during their daily feeding times, and replacing energy reserves.

Hunting Effect: After missing several quality feeding times combined with stress and cold depleted energy levels, the departure of a cold front not only signifies incredibly hungry whitetails, but outstanding hunting opportunities! And no matter what time if the hunting season, the greater the storm, the greater the opportunity! In fact, do you like to scout whitetails during the Summer? Then these same factors can combine to provide high quality observations, no matter if the cold front drops temps from 90 to 70 in July, or 40 to 20 in December.

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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 >>