Unsettled weather has put a damper on consistent deer movement and visibility, leaving hunters out West hoping for a settled weather pattern or the emergence of cold snow. A tropical storm dropped record rainfall on Oregon and Washington several days ago and then washed across the Pacific Northwest into the Northern Rockies.
Wyoming's Wind River got hit with several inches of snow last week that is now gone, but the variability in weather has kept big bucks in beds and in their secret haunts, as elsewhere in the West. Reports continue to come in about increased daytime movement, but it seems deer have been less predictably visible in reaction to the unsettled weather.
This awesome 4-point showed up on Wind River Whitetails game cameras a couple days ago, but owner Mike Reinhart says the real bruisers always show up on cameras once some nasty winter-type weather descends, usually a little later in fall. For now, deer have been in the thick cover of the river bottoms and have been moving less during unsettled weather.
A similar report comes in from Montana. Keith Miller of Montana Whitetails offers proof that Mother Nature can have a major impact on deer movement, even in the most premium and densely populated of Western whitetail habitat. While conditions have been temporarily tough in Big Sky Country, Miller looks forward to a new weather pattern that always gets deer moving: snow.
"Last week we started with a forecast of "Locally Damaging" high winds with gusts up to 70mph – not a good way to start off a fresh week. Despite the conditions, one hunter misjudged the distance on a nice 10 point. We'll try to work through these horrid conditions the first few days and then hopefully get into more favorable hunting conditions by Tuesday.
It seems this year with all the food available from the late rains within the confines of security cover as well as the crazy weather and unfavorable winds, it takes a significant change in weather to get most of the deer to move normally. Here are a few patterns that have gotten deer on the move: cooler weather for a day, sustained normal West winds all day, periods between storms, and now a taste of winter. We have a snow front moving in, which should help from here on out. We have yet to have a hard frost, which will knock down the natural forage growing back in the river bottom and get more deer out to the alfalfa fields. Check back to see what happens once the snow starts flying! I hope we get snow, however, the weatherman has been wrong once before.
Some areas reported fewer deer sightings to start the week; however, every whitetail hunter this morning saw at least 20-60 deer. It's the calm before the storm as we wait for some snow tomorrow, which should have the deer out feeding heavily this evening. These fronts moving in and out seem to be the difference between very little deer movement and lots of deer moving out from with the thick security cover. Once the conditions settle more on the fall/winter side of the coin we'll see an increase in deer movement as normal."