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Understanding Winter Deer Behavior, Part 1

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Winter deer behavior can tell you a lot about how amazing these creatures are, and how you may hunt them better.

If you’re a deer hunter, chances are you’ve devoted a lot of energy over the years to understanding how deer live and behave during the summer and fall months.

We learn about summertime movements and behaviors thanks to our trail cameras, which most of us hang in the springtime to try to figure out just how we might hunt these suckers come the fall.

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And in the fall, we get a chance to observe whitetails and muleys from a first-person perspective, learning how they respond to calls, how they eat, which factors govern their movements, and more.

Of course, the rut is a big teacher, giving us a front row seat to a wealth of deer activity and telling us tales of reproductive patterns and behaviors.

Still, despite the expertise that we strive toward in understanding whitetails in the summer and fall, the majority of hunters don’t know half as much about how deer weather the winter scourge in the battle to see the dawn of another spring. With another wave of frigid weather falling upon most of the country, let’s take a look at some of the remarkable survival mechanisms deer employ during the winter.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about whitetails is that they don’t hibernate in the way that many other outdoor mammals do. Instead of retreating into some underground labyrinth, whitetails mostly try to stay out of the path of the wind, meaning that they usually try to remain in patches of wooded cover where they are surrounded on all sides by thick evergreen trees.

Cedars and conifers can go a long way in breaking the wind, and can help deer survive even the harshest conditions – such as the -40 or -50 degrees that have swept across patches of the Midwest this winter.

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Understanding Winter Deer Behavior, Part 1