Hunting, Hunting Game

Cold Weather Deer Concerns With Recent Low Temps

Cold Weather Deer Concerns With Recent Low Temps


The latest spell of cold weather is causing deer concerns in the northern US.

Minnesota hunters and biologists are looking at the record low temperatures and accumulating snowfall as potential factors in what could be a higher than normal mortality rate for deer, according to Inforum.com.

Heavy snowfall throughout Minnesota — including 8 to 18 inches in the state’s entire northwest region — is threatening the state’s deer herd populations, along with their food supply.

Arctic weather from Canada has created what’s known as a polar vortex, bringing a burst of very cold, very dense air shown by the Weatherbell.com graphic below:

500_mb_Mon_night

Not only has the cold weather threatened the well-being of the herd, it has also stopped hunters from braving the subzero temperatures. When midday temps barely reach zero degrees, it’s hard to imagine trudging through a foot of snow in the wind to climb to a treestand in the early morning hours. As a result, harvest numbers could be a lot lower than recent years.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has stated that earlier cold weather was a major factor in low preliminary harvest numbers. WDIO in Wisconsin published an AP story in which Wildlife Program Director Tom Hauge said that “cold temperatures on opening weekend forced hunters out of the woods, setting the tone for the rest of the hunt.”

Deer are also more likely to be on the move in such extreme temperatures, driving many to roadways where they pose a danger to drivers.

When the winter season is all said and done, it will be interesting to see how the cold affected deer herds and hunting overall. We’ll keep an eye on the story as it develops.

Of course, if ice fishing is your thing, you’re in luck.

Have any of you braved the cold to hunt this season? What was the coldest temperature you sat through, and did it affect your success? The person who comments with the lowest temperature (on the honor system, so don’t stretch the truth) will win some Wide Open Spaces prizes.

Comments with your temperature need to be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, on Thursday, January 9, 2014. No purchase necessary, and only one entry per commenter is allowed. The winning comment will be chosen by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, January 10, 2014 and the winner will be contacted through the Livefyre comment platform.

About Eric Pickhartz

Eric Pickhartz is the Managing Editor at Wide Open Spaces, bringing a mix of outdoors enthusiasm and a journalism background to the site's content on a daily basis. His fishing experience began at a young age on Minnesota lakes, both frozen and thawed, and he has since used seasonal hunts and fishing trips as an excuse to become a better writer and editor. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, son and Chocolate Lab.
10 comments
GavinHillstead
GavinHillstead

-24 before wind chill but after wind chill it was -37 in Wisconsin late bow season

MommyofB
MommyofB

-8 in northern MI. didnt see a darn thing either 

KendonSmith
KendonSmith

Christmas morning 1997, we had an old friend visiting from Brazil.  I thought it would be fun for him to experience hunting with me, since they don't really do any of that in Brazil.  I remember driving by the bank on my way to the woods and it said -19.  I had bundled him up like the Stay Puff marshmallow man in my best gear, and packed on everything else I had.  We sat for nearly two hours, and I have never been so cold.  I had my bow hanging on a tree and my hands balled up in fists in my gloves to stay warm, when a nice 6 point came running up with a couple does and stopped at about 20 yards from the fallen tree log we were sitting on.  There was no way to grab my bow and draw with him staring at us, but I was just excited he got to see some deer up close!  On the way out I commented that it was the coldest I had EVER been hunting, with frozen fingers and toes, and he gave a big sigh or relief.  As a military man, he thought he was just being a wimp an did not want to tell me he had been frozen for some time, and was trying to look tough! 

GeraldRFortman
GeraldRFortman

it was about 5 out and ended up with frozen lung found out after I went to see the doc 2 to 3 day later I would of been dead he said do to coughing for a week only seen 1 deer that day

BigJake55
BigJake55

In 2011 I was on an Elk Hunt where the opening weekend got a huge cold front with 2 feet of fresh snow.  The first 4 days of the hunt welcomed us with -12 degrees each morning!  None-The-Less we bagged 3 out of 4 bulls on our tag that weekend.  So no complaining here! It was a great hunt that gave me new found respect for mother nature, and having the proper gear to keep the hunt alive!

stickbeerdman
stickbeerdman

I've sat in -20 in Minnesota, but not too long!!!

JackHerron
JackHerron

I have hunted snowshoes and arctic hares in Alaska when it was -40 degrees, and it was cold.


RobPenpek
RobPenpek

Sat through a blizzard on Lake Simcoe Canada where it was -15 and wind chill of -45. Only ice fishing would bring out the nuts like me.