Warm Weather Deer Hunting
Early archery hunting seasons can be quite tumultuous for eager whitetail hunters across America. Deer are in a transition phase, the weather is rapidly transitioning, and the action can subsequently be non-existent. More than a few hunters will bypass this period of the season in late September or early October and put their money on later portions of the season.
I'm not here to tell you that the early-season is worth hunting or worth skipping to stay home and watch football, but I am here to tell you that you can navigate this phase. More specifically, you can navigate warm weather conditions. Precisely what myself and many other hunters are looking at currently.
As I pen this blog post, I have just two days until Ohio's 2019 archery hunting season kicks off. Excited is an understatement, but I'm not so hot on the 10-day weather forecast. Yes, that pun was intended. We're staring down about 6 straight days of forecasted temps in the high 80s and even one day projected to touch 90. Ridiculous.
If my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes had a daytime kickoff this week, I'd be half tempted to just sit out the opener for the first time in over a decade. But thanks to a nighttime kickoff and experience in dealing with hot weather, I'm still planning to hit the field for Saturday's opener. I know, important criteria that I employ.
While it's completely true that unseasonably warm temps will hamper deer movement, it's not a lost cause entirely. Deer still have to eat, drink and move around at some point in the day. You just have to play your cards right, so let's drop a few quick-hitting pointers below.
I know that more than a few of us across the country are staring at blazing temps this weekend, so we hope this helps!
Small Windows of Opportunity
When it's close to 90 degrees, you need to focus your hunting efforts on small windows of opportunity. I'm talking about the first 30 minutes of daylight and the last 30 minutes of daylight. I prefer to hunt evenings here in Ohio. You can still catch deer heading out to feed for the evening, and possibly heading back to bed if you're a morning hunter.
Water sources are completely underrated in the world of whitetail. During this early-season phase and again during the rut, water sources can be dynamite hunting locations. Deer are already wearing those warm fall coats, so hydration is key. Find a watering hole or a nice stream if you're looking to change things up.
Warm weather usually equates to crazy thermal activity and high wind speeds. High wind speeds can be very beneficial if you play the correct directions, but thermals can kill your hunt. As a general rule of thumb, thermals will take your scent upwards in the mornings and down to the ground at night. Always try to keep your scent profile as tight as possible. Knowing how thermals work at your specific location is key.
Scouting with a Bow
This finishing point is more about mindset than anything else. While I wish you the best of luck in drawing blood despite the scorching temps, I also want to give you realistic expectations based on my experience. I honestly treat this phase of the season as an extended scouting period. I'm just scouting with a bow. If something unexpected happens, I'm ready to make a harvest. If the hot temps kill the action as most of us expect, I'm just enjoying some scouting time until better weather arrives.
You can absolutely hunt despite the fact that this is far from ideal hunting weather. I really don't buy into the notion that you will hurt your chances down the road, either. If you employ some of the things we discussed above and simply hunt smart, you should be fine.
You might even beat those naysayers to the punch by filling that doe tag or better. Just make sure that you get any warm weather harvest field dressed and processed as quickly as you can.
No hunter enjoys seeing 90 on the 10-day forecast in September or October, but we can manage. Best of luck to those of you who will be sweating it out with me this weekend!