Deer Hunting Cold Fronts
Have you got the rhythm down yet? Are you back in the saddle so to speak? When it comes to bow hunting it feels like it can take a week or two to finally get used to waking up earlier, master walking quietly across parched leaves, and perfect the art of patience, little movement, and silence. Bow season is here and whether you are ready or not does not concern the deer and more importantly the fleeting month of October. Deer hunting during October is short lived as is, and more often than not, several opportunities go without recognition and “seizing”. The worst of these missed opportunities takes the form of deer hunting cold fronts during October.
Digging deeper, many hunters will come to realize that it is the rapidly changing behavior of deer…not time itself that lets us perceive October as short. During the first part of the month or so, patterns exist, food sources are still intact, and there appears to be a very real opening to harvest a buck. However once the second and third week of October arrive everything changes. The shifting weather, food, hormones, landscape, and much more create a list of factors that seem to alter everything we knew about our property and the deer going into October. The second and third week of October (October 10th – 24th) seems to throw hunters a curve ball.
Acorns, Ag fields harvested, cooler weather, varying attractiveness of food plots, intolerance due to heightened testosterone, and of course the pressure of the approaching rut seem to mix up deer behavior so badly that they themselves do not understand what’s going on….let alone us hunters trying to figure it all out. If someone figured out exactly how to hunt October, you would know the absolute authority on the subject, but no one will ever be able to figure it out entirely. Why? You cannot control Mother Nature…
What Is a Cold Front?
By definition (to a hunter) a Cold Front is Mother Nature’s answer to the hunter’s mercy plead. Curve ball after curve ball, Mother Nature has taken us through the ringer no doubt, but it’s nice when she answers our prayers. A Cold front is a hunter’s saving grace so to speak. When deer movement seems to be slowing down, or unpredictable a cold front is a sudden snap to get deer and more importantly mature bucks on their feet.
A Cold Front – advancing mass of cold air trailing the edge of a warm sector of a low-pressure system.
When should you hunt a cold front?
A great source for hunters as far as weather patterns and cold fronts is Weather Underground. Customize the 10 day weather forecast to show temperature, the chance of precipitation, pressure, wind speed, and humidity can also be an advantage. Hunters are by no means meteorologists, but knowing the simplest things can make a huge difference to the action you witness in the woods.
In the picture, you can clearly see when the cold front is advancing. This graph was exported from a state in the Midwest this year, 2016, last week in fact from the date this blog is posted. From the period of Tuesday the 4th to Friday the 7th you can see a period of high temperature hovering around 80 degrees or so. Friday afternoon marks the entrance and arrival of the front. When the front is passing is typically seen as a drop in temperature > 5-10 degrees, and an increase in pressure. You will also either see nasty weather or precipitation increase as the front passes. The amount of temperature drop isn’t necessarily the main take away or reason a cold front is so productive.
Notice the days before the cold front arrives. You have hunted these days before…the same boring, long, and hot days that are common in October. Low 80s High 70s during the day for several days in a row, plus the combination of nasty weather as the front arrives signifies how “productive” the cold front will be. Deer movement will be slow or what you will normally experience during the days beforehand. During the nasty spell of weather, deer will undergo intense stress. When the skies break open (Saturday-Sunday), pressure increases, and temperature plummets deer will be excited to get on their feet, especially to feed on available food sources.
That covers when you should be deer hunting cold fronts, but not “where”. Unfortunately, the “where” is a bit trickier than the “when” and subject to a lot more opinion and variability.
Deer Hunting Cold Fronts: The Big Question is Where
So up to this point we have told you “when” you might fake a sudden cough or take a vacation day off work, but the next important thing to decide is “where”. Where should you go “all in” on what seems to be your only and best chance at a buck in October. While we cannot give you a definitive answer that is a sure fire tree stand location, we can offer plenty of well thought out and proven suggestions.
While October is leading up to highly anticipated action-packed weeks in November, the majority of the month’s deer activity revolves around one thing…FOOD. Two big food sources are competing during this time frame and a third is thrown into the mix if it is available. Above all acorns and cut corn fields should be on the hunter’s radar, but food plots can also be thrown into the mix.
Trail Cameras Weekly “Week 2” Oct 10th- 16th | October Cold Fronts and Acorns
(Video)- As the second week of October arrives, strategies must change accordingly. In this week, two major players are present, acorns and October cold fronts.
Acorns are a staple for deer during the month of October. White oak and red oak acorns rain down from mature timber canopies across the Whitetail’s range, offering a continuous and reliable food source. Unfortunately, it is also a plentiful food source…meaning the little package of carbs that is known as the acorn can spell disaster for hunters. This abundant food source’s availability means that deer do not have to work very hard or move very far to get to a food source. When deer are on acorns, it can be very hard to pattern them, but with the help of some landscape features like fingers, saddles, ridges, funnels, creek bottoms, and transition areas it can be done. Muddy TV’s Trail Cameras Weekly touches on these features and how acorns, with the addition of a cold front, could mean success.
Cut Corn Fields
Whitetail 101 S1 E8, “October Cold Fronts” | Best Way to Hunt October Cold Fronts
(Video)- On this week’s episode of Whitetail 101, Bill Winke discusses October bow hunting tactics, food sources, and October cold fronts.
Cut corn fields, a common site this time of year is one of the only food sources that can pull deer off of acorns. As Bill Winke mentions in the video from Muddy TV’s Whitetail 101, freshly cut corn field offers “easy pickings” as far as deer are concerned. The missed kernels and mangled ears of corn can leave a significant amount of food left scattered across the tangle of stalks. The combine leaving the field is a dinner bell for deer and has the power to bring brutes out of the timber for a quick buffet. Again a cold front moving through, with some nasty weather in the forecast may just prompt a farmer for a quick harvest, meaning you will have a cut corn field to hunt over while deer hunting cold fronts, both bumping deer to their feet to feed.
Green Food Plots
Trophy Pursuit S6 E6, “Close Calls” | Close Encounters with Mature Iowa Bucks
(Video)- This week on Muddy’s Trophy Pursuit, several team members have great encounters, close calls, and trail camera photos of mature Iowa bucks.
As always a well-planted food plot, with the right species, in the right location can always be a dynamite spot to sit when deer are on their feet. As you can see in Trophy Pursuits Episode 6, the team encounter several hit list bucks moving through, around, and to food plots. Clovers, brassicas, and species like oats can attract deer throughout October and even through November and later. This is especially true for years with low acorn production, or in areas with little mature timber and ag crops. Food plots such as the ones you witness in this episode work great as staging areas and transition plots as deer begin to filter out into larger areas such as cut corn fields or oak flats.
Overall the secret to perfecting deer hunting cold fronts and bow hunting in general in October is relying heavily upon your trail camera data. As you noticed in all the weekly deer hunting videos and web shows on Muddy TV this week (Trail Cameras Weekly, Whitetail 101, and Trophy Pursuit), they all relayed intel and information from their trail cameras to support their observations and predictions.
Take the advice and do yourself a favor. Setup trail cameras based on the available food sources. Await an October cold front, and base your hunt around the most recent information you have….you won’t regret it.