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This Week's Feature

Weather's Role in Hunting

By: S.L. Merriam - WCH Sharpshooter Member

Weather conditions play a big role in where animals will be at a particular time of day. Sounds simple doesn't it? Weather conditions force wildlife to develop habit patterns to deal with existing weather. Deer seek relief from summer heat and winter cold that is outside their normal comfort range.

During the extreme heat of summer animals take refuge in shaded areas to escape the heat. The animal still experiences heat, but at a lower temperature than if he was standing in direct sunlight. Ambient or prevailing conditions are measured in degrees of thermal heat. Thermal cover describes areas that provide either heat retaining or cooling conditions through naturally insulating vegetation which can provide protection from extremely hot or cold temperatures. That's why we see so many deer and elk on a sunny south slope on a cold winter morning.

In the winter deer play a game called survival. If they win, they are
allowed to see spring again; if they don't win they are not allowed to see
spring again. A hard winter and age are pushing this buck to the limit.

Deer populations are scattered throughout North and South America and temperatures throughout their range vary from extreme cold to stifling heat depending on where they live. Through centuries of natural adaptation they have learned to survive within their natural range. Deer favor residing in the thermo-cover that provides them with temperature protection required to maximize their comfort in a given temperature range.

Hunters who have a basic understanding of thermo-cover principles that deer live by can narrow down locations where deer will be found in their core range. Thermal protection is more important than food or water. Deer can live for extended periods without water or food, but they must seek protection from the elements to conserve energy in order to survive.