Part I: Patterning Strategies
By Jim Nelson
Doesn't it seem like, right at the beginning of every bow season, we hear about a hunter who had all of his cosmic hunting cards fall into alignment and wound up shooting a world-class buck? Shouldn't we all have that kind of luck. By paying attention to certain weather trends and employing patterning strategies, you can become that karmic hunter this September.
For the sake of this section, we will assume that you're hunting in an area that has good cover, adequate food and good whitetail genes. So, what types of trends should you pay attention to?
Through years of research, we've determined that the most important factors to a successful early-season hunt are temperature, dew point, barometric pressure, wind, sky cover, moon phase and something called diurnal climatology. (The use of mock scrapes, or more precisely "mock limbs," is another arrow you should add to your quiver.) The more of these trends that coincide with each other at any given time, the greater the chance you will have to harvest that monster buck.
Key Deer Activity Factors
Temperature: When the temperature in your area is four to five degrees below the historical average, daylight activity will increase.
Dew Point: When the dew point is within four degrees on either side of the low temperature, daylight activity will increase.
Barometric Pressure: A barometer reading of 30.00 and above (preferably rising) will cause activity to increase. Seventy-seven of the trophy harvest data we broke down, had a barometric pressure reading of 30.00 and above, with the average being 30.15.
Wind: Light winds of up to 15 miles per hour are best. When winds of these speeds immediately followed a period of sustained winds of over 30 mph, our data showed a dramatic spike in harvests.
Sky Cover: The reduced light caused by an overcast sky, especially when accompanied by fog, light rain or snow flurries, will cause a dramatic increase in daylight activity.
Moon Phase: Our historical research of trophy whitetail harvests has shown an absolute correlation between success and certain moon phases and subsequent moon times. The percentages of illumination within each phase have a definite impact on harvest data. A five-percent change in moon phase can greatly effect deer movement. From our research we've found that the full moon and new moon are the optimal phases and give us the best times to hunt. When one of those phases coincides with an overcast/foggy day and a barometric reading of 30.00 and rising, daytime whitetail activity increases significantly.
Diurnal Climatology: Simply put, diurnal climatology refers to the historical daily averages of the climate in a specific area. We feel that the two most important of the many daily factors are wind direction and dew point. As we all know, a key factor in stand placement is the wind.
By studying the daily climatology in your area, you can learn what the average wind direction will be, for a given time of day in a specific month. Sounds rather of valuable, doesn't it? Many people do not realize just how much the wind direction changes in a given day. It can be as little a 40- to 50-degree change or as much as 360 degrees in a single day. This data will also show you when the heating and cooling times of the day occur-thus when the thermals will change-again aiding in stand placement. These "thermal" periods are also good times to find a buck scent-checking scrape lines. The dew point's correlation to temperature is also tracked daily. Find the times where these factors are closest to each other and you'll find activity increases.
So, what might the "perfect scenario" be? A light wind, with a rising barometer, after a rain when the dew point and temperature are equal (or close to it), with an overcast sky during a full or new moon phase. September can be an excellent month, but continue using everything you've learned as building blocks in October and November.
Instead of making a mock scrape, by adding scents to the dirt, we've developed a formula to impregnate non-deer attractant scents into freshly cut limbs. These scents remain in the cambium layer of the branches for weeks. By properly hanging a cluster of limbs, we eventually have a scrape made for us by the deer.
The limb clusters create a socialization point for the deer. The scents attract them, causing them to lick, chew and rub the branches, in turn leaving their own scent. They will also urinate there, creating a usable scrape.
Each location might not become the primary scrape that we would love to hunt over, but by creating many limb locations between bedding to feeding areas, we can create funnels in the transition/staging areas. We monitor our limb clusters with trail cameras, to find out which ones are the most active and then hang our stands accordingly.
Once the scrapes are established and your stands are in place, observing the weather factors we've discussed, especially the moon phase and diurnal climatology, becomes crucial. We've stated that the full and new moon phases are the best to hunt, and part of the reason for that is during these phases, the earth actually pulls moisture from the ground, which in turn increases the amount of scent particles in the air. Any factor that increases a buck's sense of smell creates a feeling of security and results in an increase in movement.
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