The Hot Hunt

How to bag a buck when it's beach weather.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Every early-season hunter Who has walked away from his stand sweaty and empty-handed knows that high fall temperatures can turn whitetails into slugs. Already clad in their winter coats, most warm-weather bucks move sparingly and almost exclusively at night. But successful whitetail hunting isn't about finding most bucks. It's about finding one buck you can kill.

To make hot hunts pay off, you have to continually remind yourself that somewhere out there, a buck is moving during shooting hours. Your job is to figure out where, when, and how to tag him. Here's a breakdown that'll help you do just that:

Location
When fall weather is consistently warm, a drop in temperature of just a few degrees can be all that's needed to motivate bucks. If you hunt hilly or mountainous terrain, focus your efforts on shaded north slopes, which offer deer both lower temperatures and cooling breezes that keep insects at bay. Moreover, in the wake of dry summer conditions, mast trees on north slopes tend to bear more and better fruit.

If your hunting grounds are chalkboard-flat, on the other hand, concentrate on areas where a dense canopy of mature trees provides plenty of shade.

In either case, water is a big advantage. Wooded creek and spring corridors, for example, are significantly cooler than surrounding uplands. What's more, they provide whitetails with the extra drinking water they typically need in hot weather. The same is true of lake, pond, and swamp edges, which often feature dense, shaded bedding cover nearby, as well as convenient foods such as grasses and sedges.

**Timing **
Dawn and dusk are the best times of day, of course, but pay special attention to subtle changes in the weather. A breezy day, a slight drop in temperature, or an overcast sky can make a big difference. And if the forecast calls for a light rain or drizzle, grab your rainsuit and hit the woods. Nothing gets sluggish bucks moving like light precipitation that breaks up a dry spell-even if the mercury remains high. [NEXT "Tactics"]

Tactics
Hot-weather whitetails not only move less frequently; they also cover less ground when they do move. This makes setting up tight to a buck's bedding area (without invading it) almost mandatory-which in turn makes an unobtrusive approach critical. If you're hunting near a water source, as you should be, use a stream course as your entry and exit trail, or paddle a canoe across a lake or pond instead of bungling in to your stand from the uplands. When hunting north-slope timber, use the ridges to hide your approach.

Once you're in a promising location, don't give up on it just because your buck doesn't show up on the first day. The following day's forecast, even if only slightly different, could put that deer in your sights. Besides, the whitetail season is too short to waste time waiting for long-john weather.

Dressed for the Heat
Today's clothing choices for hot-weather hunting go beyond cotton. The right outfit can keep you cool and odor-free, and in some cases it'll keep the bugs at bay. Here are three great options:

  • **Scent-Lok Ultralight Savanna Series: **Unlike many carbon-based scent-free garments, the Savanna Series employs only a single layer of fabric and is designed to keep you comfortable in temperatures up to 80 degrees (800-315-5799; www.scentlok.com).

  • No Trace Indian Summer: This line of lightweight, cool, and comfy cotton-blend garments is chemically treated to absorb human odor (866-452-4562; www.notrace.us).

  • Shannon Outdoors Bug Tamer: This camo-mesh outfit keeps you cool and at the same time saves you from swatting and scratching throughout your hunt. There's even a scent-control version (800-852-8058; www.bugtamer.com). --S.B.