A Look Back: Accessing Historical Weather Data
If you’re like me, for a large majority of your hunting years you may have overlooked small details that led to your success without you even realizing it. I guess this is what people refer to as luck, but more than likely you had a good reason to be hunting where you were on that day. I always have reasons for sitting in the locations I choose, sometimes it doesn’t work out as I plan, and other times when it does, there is almost always a certain element of luck involved. Likely, there may have been aspects of the hunt that led to my success without my consideration. Recently I began to ask myself if there is there a way to capitalize on these small details to experience more consistent success?
Logging Deer Sightings
A big reason why deer movement felt random to me for so many years was that I failed to log when the deer were moving and in relation to what weather conditions. If you have hunted a property for a number of years, having information about dates, times, wind direction, precipitation, temperature and moon phase can begin to tell a story about how and when the deer in the area use terrain features, bedding areas and food sources. A change in the wind can alter where a mature animal chooses to bed, and this is can make a hot stand go cold quickly. It can also make a cold stand location with little sign turn into a killing stand as the conditions change. If you keep detailed records of your hunts, you can find consistencies with deer movement that will help you not only determine stand placement, but also which stand to hunt on any given day. After all, bowhunting is about location, location, location.
Its Not Too Late
If you haven’t been keeping a detailed log of your deer sightings, its not too late. Surely you can’t go back and remember each sighting you had for the past several years, the date of the hunt, or where exactly the deer came from. However, there is a good chance you may remember the dates on which you killed a deer and the approximate time of day; if you save your tags, better yet. If you are like me, this is especially true for bucks that you have harvested. I use Weather Underground for reliable historical wind and weather information. You can check out weather data for your specific area here. This helps me piece together not only where a deer I’ve killed may have been bedding during a specific wind direction, but also helps to give me insight on what factors came together to help make me successful. Because I know how the deer approached my stand, I can use wind and weather data in conjunction with aerials or topo maps to further understand how that deer was utilizing the terrain and exactly how these factors came together to help me avoid detection on that day.
The other thing I like to go back and look at is solunar data. Solunar data provides information about rising and setting times for the moon, as well as moon phase and overhead and underfoot times. There are many opinions about the moon’s effect on Whitetails that have been popularized by many well-known, hardcore hunters. Some claim a rising moon in the last hour of light, that is waxing full, get the deer moving early, while others insist a moon that is overhead within an hour of dark (dawn or dusk) will cause deer movement to be a few minutes earlier or later in the afternoon or morning, respectively. As you can see, all the theories get confusing, and there would be enough for a blog of its own right there. While my own verdict is still out on the moon’s effect on deer movement, I have chosen to look up and log the solunar data for my hunts to see if I begin to see my own trends over time. Similar to weather data, looking at historical solunar data can give you a jump-start on formulating your collection of data. For example, an 8 point I harvested in 2013 was checking a scrape line in daylight around 5:15 PM. The moon phase was full and the rise time was 6:11 PM for that day. This would directly correlate with some of the moon theories about rising moons that are waxing full late in the day, however, one data point tells us nothing. Having this information is important, however, because subsequent harvest data can be assembled and trends can possibly be deciphered. To find this historical moon data as well as the current moon times, I generate a solunar chart using www.solunarforecast.com.
Logging your encounters in the present, and coordinating that information with data from prior year’s successful hunts can begin to paint a valuable picture of the deer movement in your area. These things take patience and persistence to develop, but there is no better time to start than now. You will thank yourself 5 years down the road when you are better able to pattern the deer on your properties.
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