Around this time of year, there is always good news and bad news. The good news is that it’s hunting season. The bad news is that summer is over. For most hunters, fall is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s the best time of year for most of us, an opportunity to enjoy our escapes to the woods and a chance to try out the strategies, weapons, and intel we have been building up for months to actually bring down a deer for the dinner table. On the other hand, most hunting mornings are bitter cold, with frost on the leaves and a hint of winter in the air.
But such is life: the sport we view as our passion just so happens to be confined to the fall, and that means we spend the most hours outside during the brisk autumn months. Where summer seems to give our fishing counterparts beautiful weather day after day, autumn weather is anything but predictable. One day can be beautiful: not a cloud in the sky, sun peeking through the pine trees, and a temperature hovering close to 60 degrees. Turn around and the next day is 40 degrees, the sun staying shrouded behind dark clouds, and rain pouring down. When the end of Daylight Saving Time sends the clocks backwards, everything gets even more confusing, cutting down on your afternoon hunting hours, but boosting your morning ones.
Needless to say, a hunter always needs to have an eye on the weather forecast, whether that means watching the Weather Channel for a few minutes every morning when you wake up or refreshing the weather app on your smartphone every hour or two.
Of course, if there’s one thing a seasoned hunter learns over the course of a fall hunting career, it’s that weather forecasts aren’t always entirely accurate. Weather patterns can change in a second, and what looks like a rainy day in one forecast can end up being entirely sunny and beautiful in reality. As a result, you should never plan to sit out a day of hunting just because a forecast says that the weather is going to be sub-par. Leaving your hunting days open is important because you only get so many of them before the season is over. Once that happens, you will have to wait another year before you get another chance to bag the buck of your dreams, so don’t take the time for granted.
With that said, weather forecasts absolutely should adjust the way you plan your day in the field. For instance, cold fronts generally bring bucks out of the woodwork, making them more energetic and more likely to journey beyond the usual bedding, feeding, or watering areas. If you see a 10 or 15 degree drop in your forecast for the weekend, make sure you have some hunting time set aside.
Similarly, all hunters need to know how the wind is working for or against them before heading out to the stand. Wind directions can change anything in a hunt, from how deer are moving to which way your scent is blowing, and if you can master wind directions—and deer behaviors in relation to them—you will be able to pick your spots better and kill more deer in the process.