According to Bo Pitman, longtime guide and deer-hunting teacher, although there is no surefire way to guarantee a hunter that he will take a deer, he’s identified some problems that successful hunters have learned to eliminate from their hunt plans.
1) You must realize the effects of the weather on the deer and the hunter:
Weather plays an important role in hunter movement as well as deer movement. Oftentimes during bad weather, neither the hunters nor the deer want to battle the elements, so they both hole-up. One of the reasons hunters don’t venture out in bad weather is often because they’re not prepared for it. They may not have packed enough warm clothes to deal with a severe cold front that moves in during the time they’re hunting, or they may have forgotten their rainsuits. Because they’re not prepared for the weather, they either don’t hunt or don’t hunt as aggressively as they would if the weather was better.
Another way weather affects the hunter is that his attitude changes, and he starts making excuses for not taking deer like, “Since a cold front’s moving in, we probably won’t take any deer,” or “Rain’s falling, so the deer won’t move in the rain.” He’s actually not hunting as hard. But we realize that a hunter can’t bag a deer if he isn’t in the woods hunting for a deer to take. Outdoorsmen know that deer don’t travel as much during a front or a blowing rain as they will when the weather’s constant. But if three days of bad weather occur, the deer aren’t going to starve to death for those three days. They will get up and eat, particularly as soon as that weather breaks, which greatly increases your chances of taking a buck. A couple of years ago, I put a group of hunters out just at daylight in a pouring rain, which had been falling heavily since the night before. Then about an hour after daylight, the rain slowed-down, and the weather began to fair-off. All five hunters harvested bucks. By being in the woods hunting during bad weather, if and when the weather does break, and deer do begin to move, the blackpowder hunter will be ready to take them.
2) You must understand or consider the importance of wind:
Being conscious of the wind’s direction is as important as knowing how to read the weather. If all the deer in the world are moving in front of you, and there’s a wind blowing from behind you, then you’ll probably not take a buck. One of the reasons that many blackpowder hunters don’t bag their bucks is because they enter the woods and pick-out stand sites the day before they hunt. Then they return to those places the next morning, confident that they’ve selected the best spots in the woods where they can take deer. However, they never stop to check the wind to see if their scent is being blown into their hunting areas.
Deer can smell much better than they can see or hear. If a deer hears a hunter walking or moving, he may stop, listen or may even skirt the area. But more than likely, he won’t break and run. If he spots a hunter moving, he probably won’t be spooked. However, if he gets the faintest smell of human scent, he’ll run like a scalded dog. Although hunters generally wear camouflage to hide from deer, walk quietly and/or sit in tree stands to keep the deer from hearing them, they don’t pay attention to which way the wind’s blowing and are certain that their scents aren’t being carried into the hunting areas, more than likely they won’t bag their bucks. Although I do use cover-up scents, I don’t disregard the wind. No matter what kind of masking scent you use, the deer still can smell you if he’s downwind of you. I view cover-up scents like this – if the hunter goes two weeks without bathing and then puts on deodorant, well, you still can smell him. If that same hunter takes a bath the night before or the morning that he will be hunting and utilizes a cover-up scent, the deer’s nose is so keen that the animal can still smell the hunter. I know for a fact that the CVA hunters who aren’t hunting into the wind aren’t bagging as many deer as the ones who walk or stand with the wind in their faces.
Image courtesy CVA