John's Journal...

White-Tailed Bucks on a Cold Day

Deer on Cold Days

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note:I talked with Dr. Larry Marchinton, well-known deer researcher who’s nowretired as a professor of wildlife at the University of Georgia, who Click to enlargeexplained, “I don’t have any scientific research to back up this theory. However, I do know from my own experience that I see fewer deer moving on extremely-cold days than I do when the weather’s more stable. The day a cold front moves in isn’t as productive a day to hunt as the day before or after a cold front hits. Although deer do have to move in cold weather, I don’t believe they move as much on the coldest days as they do after the weather stabilizes.”

Although cold and frozen, especially since I’d lived most of my life in Alabama where we only had a week or two of below-freezing temperatures each year, I’d endured the horrible weather I was hunting in courageously. My hunting buddies had promised I’d have a really-good chance to take a monster whitetail with my bow. I’d seen some bucks that would score 150 plus on Pope & Young in photographs taken the previous season on the land where I hunted. The first morning of the hunt I arrived at my ladder stClick to enlargeand just inside the wood line along the edge of an abandoned cornfield before daylight. While crossing the knee-deep snow, I’d spotted deer trails crisscrossing the fields. Although I hadn’t seen any whitetails by 11:00 am, I heard a limb snap. I looked to my left and saw the buck of my dreams with more than 12 points and main beams wider than 22inches coming down the fence line. The size of this fClick to enlargeat buck reminded me of a big boar hog I’d once taken in Florida. The big buck stopped and looked back, giving me an opportunity to stand,clip my release and prepare for the shot. About 40 yards from my stand, a tree had blown down across the fence. The huge buck easily could walk around that tree, which would give me a shot at 30 yards or less. But when he reached the fallen tree, he turned the opposite way and started to move off into the woods. I drew my bow, but then decided I couldn’t risk taking an iffy shot on such a large buck. Lowering my bow, I realized that my opportunity to take the buck of my dreams had done nothing more than leave me cold.

I hunted that field edge for two more days but never saw that buck or any other buck. Then on the last day of my hunt, the weather warmed-up in the middle of the day. A nice 7 point with about 18 inches between his main beams came down the fence line, walked around the downed tree the big buck had balked at and presented a perfect quartering-away shot at 20 yards. When the buck took the arrow, he only went about 50 yards before he piled-up in the snow. I had to agree with Dr. Marchinton that fewer deer seemed to move on very-cold days.

Tomorrow: Watch for Breaking Weather

Check back each day this week for more about "White-Tailed Bucks on a Cold Day"

Day 1: Deer on Cold Days
Day 2: Watch for Breaking Weather
Day 3: Locating Deer After the Snow
Day 4: Hunt the Coveys
Day 5: Use a Dirty Trick


Entry 542, Day 1