Cold weather and deer hunting do not always go hand-in-hand at southern latitudes. It’s taken for granted “up north,” but Texas’ Fall temperatures rarely stay in the 30’s, if they get there at all. Let’s face it, sitting around a campfire is not quite as enjoyable when you’re sweating.
The regular (General Season) has ended for white-tailed deer in Texas, but many counties have a Late Season and ranches involved in the MLDP program still have the better parts of 2 months left to hunt. The Late Youth Season and South Texas are still going strong until January 15, too. It’s always good practice to harvest deer early in the season, if possible, because this leaves important food sources out on the landscape for the remainder of the herd trying to get through the winter, which has really just started.
Low temperatures benefit deer hunters in a number of ways, especially at lower latitudes, such as Texas. Whitetail, and some of those that hunt them, are real comfortable when the mercury drops. The deer, like us, are just not used to it. That said, it’s a good time to be out there. Below are 4 cold weather deer hunting tips to help you fill your freezer.
Cold is Gold
It takes a lot of energy to keep a deer humming along at really cold temperatures, at say, anything below 30 degrees F. Other than the peak of the breeding season, the rut, nothing is better at getting bucks and does up on their feet — because they have to eat!
Many of the whitetail subspecies found at lower latitudes are not built for cold weather. In fact, they have smaller skeletal frames and in areas where they are overabundant, they are even smaller. They are not built for really cold weather, or at least sustained cold weather. As a result, low temperatures get them up and keep them there throughout the day. Time for you to get out.
Hunt Accessible Foods
A strong cold front has just rolled in. Temperatures are slated to be in the low 20’s for the next few mornings and with mid-day highs in the 30’s. With cold, winter weather hitting hard (hey, at least for the area) deer will need energy. And energy comes from food.
So what are deer looking to eat? When it’s cold whitetail will eat just about anything that is easy to access, but they are really seeking carbohydrates for fuel their inner fire and warm them up. Carbs are easy to digest and they result in immediate energy. Hunt food sources that may not have been used heavily during the early season, but are still available. Yes, this includes fall food plots as well as spin-feeders. The cold temps should finally push them to eat the corn piling up under your feeder.
Another plus side hunting during the late season is that post-rut bucks have returned to a solid feeding pattern. The rut can knock as much as 25 percent of the body weight off a buck, and cold weather does not help, so they will be up and feeding. This will not help those deer hunting where late season regulations limit them to antlerless deer and spikes, but can pay off big for youth hunters, those hunting the South Texas General Season, and hunters on MLDP properties.
Dress for Cold Weather
The deer are cold so that means you too will be cold. One of the more important tips offered here is to make sure that you dress for success! And by that, I plenty of layers on both top and bottom. We are not in November anymore. Camo shorts, t-shirts and sneakers are not going to cut it in 20 degrees and 20 mile per hour winds that can be found in January. Those were the go-to attire when you were sweating it out in your box blind, but not now.
Get out your flannel, insulated overalls and sock hat. The critical areas to keep warm while cold weather deer hunting are your head, hands and feet. Develop a layered plan that will work whether sitting in a stand or covering ground. You will want to dress heavy for sitting, but be able to shed layers as you heat up. You also want to prepare for a full day of hunting because in cold weather deer will move all day long.
Since deer are forced to move and feed when it’s cold out, then particular attention should be payed to hunt areas where they travel. Locate travel corridors in the area that are between bedding areas and food sources, get downwind and wait. This is when being dressed appropriately comes into play.
The probability that you will see deer using those travelways has just increased markedly since winter has finally rolled around. Those travel corridors, once well-vegetated, are now reduced to sparse grass and leafless trees and vines. Greater corridor visibility and hungry, roaming deer have tipped the odds in your favor. If you have any cold weather deer hunting tips please leave them in comments section and help a fellow brother or sister out. We’ll all appreciate it. Stay safe and good luck!