Archery deer hunting in tough weather: playing the fronts
It seems inevitable that throughout the fall a few serious storms will roll through. Most of these weather systems will keep bowhunters out of the woods; however, skipping out on book-end hunts around these storms can be a mistake. A few years ago I deer hunted north-central Wisconsin on the tail end of a late-September freak storm that dumped a massive amount of rain in a 24-hour period.
I climbed into my stand with sideways spitting rain buffeted by 35-mph gusts of wind. I didn’t even have my bow hoisted up before I saw two white-tailed does, and soon other deer. It ended up being one of the most deer-filled sits of my career, and as I wrapped my tag around the antlers of a decent eight-pointer that expired in knee-deep swamp water, the thought occurred to me that I might have been missing out on some of the best hunting of my life by letting storms and strong weather systems keep me home.
Since that hunt I’ve watched the weather more closely and tried to hunt every storm I could – provided I could stay safe and not put myself into danger. What I’ve seen is that if the storm is strong enough, movement on the front end and back end can be phenomonal. One thing of note is that the deer seem to move right before the nasty weather hits and often while the weather is moving out, not when it is already gone. In my earlier years I’d give fronts at least a day on the back end before hunting again, but not anymore. If there is a severe enough weather system to suppress or completely put down deer movement, it doesn’t take much to kickstart that movement again, which often means they’ll get on their feet as soon as the weather lets up even a tiny bit.
If you find yourself staring at the radar wondering how long it’s going to take before you can sit in a tree again, consider how close to the nasty weather you can safely hunt. You might be surprised by what cruises past as the wind is whipping and the rain is falling.