- Barometric Pressure: This is widely held to be one of the chief catalysts for deer movement. In his book Whitetail Movement, deer authority John Wootters notes that deer activity on his Texas ranch was greater when the barometric pressure was changing and at its highest when pressure was rising. He based that finding on years of observations and collected data.
- Temperature: Deer are dressed in their winter coats by November. If you put on all your warmest clothes and then try to run around all day long in 80-degree heat, how long will you last? Based on my experience, and that of my many hunting contacts throughout the continent, daytime buck movement declines when the temperature rises more than 15 to 20 degrees above the norm.
- Wind: The first few days of a high wind (above 25 mph) produce less deer movement. If the wind persists, deer become accustomed to it and move anyway. There is a limit, however. When a high wind gusts and reaches speeds high enough to snap off branches and blow debris from the trees, deer will stay put and wait until it passes. Such conditions generally are associated with a passing front and don't last more than a day. I don't like dead-calm weather either. The deer I hunt in the Midwest move noticeably less on mornings when a breeze is barely stirring. I suspect that it is due to their reduced scenting ability and to the fact that, because they can hear so well, they become extremely alert and nervous. It might also relate to barometric pressure. As far as I'm concerned, the worst time to hunnt is on a warm, humid, still morning.
- Rain and Snow: There's nothing more beautiful to a hunter than the sight of a nice buck coming through the timber with a thin layer of snow blanketing his back and antlers. Deer move well in the light snow that comes with a weak winter front. A misting rain associated with a falling barometer is also generally fine and deer will move well in it during any part of the season. However, when the sprinkles turn into a steady downpour, deer hole up. You probably should too.
- Mornings vs. Evenings: Three sources have convinced me that mornings are better-my own experience, Wootters' data and a study done by Brad Herndon of the Pope and Young Club records book staff. Record applications indicate that the number of trophies per man-hour is skewed toward the morning.
- Local Factors: What's happening in your neck of the woods is much more important than general climatic conditions when predicting buck movement. For example, if one estrous doe passes your stand in the early hours you might think every buck in the state is on the move, while a buddy one ridge over might see nothing. By the same token, if a hunter passes through the area before you get there and has bumped the deer out, you might be willing to swear that every whitetail on earth is holed up.
- Perfect Conditions: Give me a cool morning that dawns 10 degrees below normal with a light, steady breeze of about 5 to 10 mph and a rising barometer. Generally, it doesn't matter what part of the season you're hunting; when those conditions exist you'll see above-average activity in any area where there is a decent population of deer.