Do colder temperatures affect deer movement

deer in the snow


As we continue to see unseasonably warm weather across much of deer hunting season we all know cold temps are coming eventually. But do these drops in temperature actually mean better days of hunting ahead? The short answer is probably not…

Temperature does not impact rut timing.

One thing science tells us for certain is that colder weather does not indicate the start of the rut. Deer physiology does not work that way. A research study by Mississippi State University has this to say. 

The timing for the peak of the rut is synchronized by photoperiod or the varying amount of daylight. A series of hormonal events are set in motion that result in egg development and release, and of most importance to the hunter, the behavioral changes that make females particularly attractive to bucks and receptive to their attention...

This contrasts with several wives’ tales that we hear every year that colder weather brings on the rut. Fawn survival is higher when they are birthed at certain times of the year. Over millennia this has led to the natural selection of when the rut begins in deer, not a recent cold snap that moved through the area. 

Moderate temperature change can impact deer activity slightly

I’m sure a lot of us believe cold fronts that bring 10-15 degree drops in temperature after a warm few days increase deer activity. While we could argue semantics here, remember deer are chasing the rut no matter what the temperature says. So they are always active. Colder weather brings deer out from the deep cover of the woods where they have been chasing shade and water and out into more comfortable surroundings to forage for food or mates. It’s not that the deer are more active. It’s just more likely that you will see them as they emerge from deep in the woods and explore new areas for food. Hopefully, those expanded areas align well with your tree stand placement strategy.  

Heaven's Trail Double Tree Stand

These are the perfect times to be hunting from your favorite spots as you will likely see a higher chance for success after these moderate temperature drops. Being comfortable while hunting these cold snaps means staying warm. We have engineered several unique features into our tree stands which help increase warmth while hunting and keep you comfortable. When we were researching our tree stand materials we wanted to build a structure using a durable resin composite material called Fibergrate®. Through product testing, we knew that Fibergrate® was incredibly strong and had the added benefit of not being made of metal which meant it would not conduct the heat away from your boot in the winter.

deer laying in the forest

On the flip side, sudden rises in temperature can mean deer are likely to seek cover and return to those hard-to-spot places and will be difficult to spot on your property. At times like these, it’s best to hunt deep cover on your property. During the rut, deer will be active but that activity may be limited to a smaller portion of your property. 

Extreme swings in temperature bring little activity

If moderate temperature swings equal more activity extreme temperature swings will pause a lot of the deer movement on your property. Large drops in temperature will shut down the deer for a few days until they adjust to the change. Lots of hunters report successful hunts a few days after a big drop in temperature or a snow event as deer emerge from the beds and start foraging for food again. 

If temps start rising quickly you may want to focus on hunting closer to the evening rather than in the morning. Deer can often move more freely later in the day as the sun starts to set during warm days. 

Go with your gut and document your discoveries

Ultimately as you learn to hunt your own property you’ll start to pick up on the intricacies that weather has on increasing or decreasing your success. Listening to your gut and going out and trying new things on your property means one thing, you are out hunting, and just doing that is going to lead to more success. 

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