Cold weather can help the hunt
Late November always brings the possibility of the ol’ Northwoods One-Two Punch: Cold and snow. We’ve been lulled into a sense of complacency during the past few years as warm weather lingered and snow was a late arrival to the party. This year has the look of a more normal, in historical terms, November.
All of this plays a critical role in the 9 day deer hunt that kicks off this Saturday. Deer numbers in the north are down a bit but enthusiasm always runs high in the ranks of hunters and this year seems to confirm that.
If the forecast holds true (and this is written mid week to hit publishing deadlines) Opening Day will be a cold one. Snow? The ground is white as I write this but snow is always the wild card. If we get even a light cover of white hunting conditions improve dramatically. Deer are more visible; blaze orange seems brighter; and it is far easier to track a wounded deer. All in all snow on the ground makes all hunts better.
A cold opening can work either way. Deer will still be on the move and in the colder weather they need food. That’s a positive. Downside is that hunters often cannot sit as long; cold can really make it a difficult task to sit still for hours on end. Opening weekend is, for most hunters, a matter of sitting on the stand all day. Cold can make that difficult.
If hunters get chilled and leave their stands early there is an increased chance that they will jump deer on the way out. That can put more deer on the move in the late mornings and mid-day. Hunters who are dressed for the cold will have an advantage. With the moon rising late in the evening deer will usually be on the move into the daylight hours and later. Those hunters who can tough it out may do well later in the morning than usual.
After the opening weekend things change. Fewer hunters are out and the weather looks to be warming up. Stand hunters will have it easier and hunters who make small drives will probably have good conditions as well. While the majority of deer are killed on the opening weekend there are still plenty left to make the upcoming week a good one.
Based on population estimates the total kill in the north may be less than we’ve seen in the past years. That is typical of the fluctuations in deer numbers year to year. But cold and snow may make the season a memorable one nonetheless.
The cold weather has hastened the freeze up of area lakes and if past history is any indicator we’ll have ice fishermen pushing the limits of thin ice. We always urge caution but if the weather holds on the cold end of the scale we can expect some ice fishing reports in the next week or so. For now though, it’s all about the deer hunt on the outdoor front.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.