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Climate change and hunting season

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by MyRoad, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. MyRoad

    MyRoad Well-Known Member

    Last year was my first time deer hunting, but I went with a friend who's been hunting here all his life (he's in his early 40's), and hung out with local "old timers" before the season to learn as much as I could from them.

    One thing that kept coming up was that in the last 30 years, summers on average have become progressively longer and warmer. The impact on hunting is that fall/winter comes later and therefore the rut comes later. During the time now designated as "deer season", the males are not responding to calls, and they are not coming out looking for does and challenging other males.

    The only locals I've heard about who actually tagged an animal last year were farmers who took them on their property (in other words, they'd been watching them eat at the edges of their fields for weeks, and on opening day they 'harvested' them...). No one I talked to even knew anyone else who was successful in the hills.

    Anyone else find the season to be moving, or the temperature changes effecting their hunting?

    Any suggestions on how we could petition local govt. game and wildlife departments to move the season later?
  2. .41 magnum man

    .41 magnum man Well-Known Member

    If you are thinking to change the season to "follow the rut" then you would be making a mistake. The rut has not changed. What brings in the rut is not cold weather, but the amount of daylight in a day, also known as photoperiodism. WHen the days shorten and less daylight per day is registered by the pituary gland, then it triggers the phenomenon we call the rut. Some of the effects are: hardening of the antlers, and the release of tostesterone into the deers system. Here in Virginia, we too have been experiencing unseasonally warmer weather, and it has made the deer hunting much more challenging. The rut is still going on the same time it always has, but because it is so warm and the deer now have their winter coats, they will not move much during the day. Once night comes, they go on with their reproductive ways, chasing, fighting and mating, and we just don't get to witness it. To be successful in this hot weather one has to change their tactics. Hunting water sources is one option, and perhaps doing more still hunting around known bedding areas. One thing is for sure, and that is- no matter what you do the hunting during hot weather is tough.
    Now, later on as the days grow longer and more daylight gets into the deer's brain, the tosterone levels fall again, the swelling in the neck goes down, and the antlers fall off. So I hope this helps you out. Books written by experts like Charlie Alshimer, and others explain this in more detail. Now the next time you are around someone who thinks changing the hunting season is a good idea, give them a run down on "photoperiodism" and teach those old timers something new. :)
  3. eliphalet

    eliphalet Well-Known Member

    I would be interested to know if your talking east or west of Oregon's Cascades?
  4. MyRoad

    MyRoad Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that well written and informative response. I'm learning more all the time. To be clear, the 'old timers' did not suggest moving the season, that was something that I came up with -- so its my ignorance on that one. Thanks again for the education.

    So I suppose the focus of this topic should shift more towards hunting in unusually warm weather, and how to work with that, since the deer aren't as active during the daylight hours.
  5. MyRoad

    MyRoad Well-Known Member

    West of the Cascades, last year was Yamhill County (I live in Lane County now).
  6. koja48

    koja48 member

    In the areas I've hunted in Wa state over the past 27 years, I've noticed neither deer nor elk are as vocal or active during daylight hours during the rut as they once were. I attribute the change to more nocturnal habits to increased hunting pressure/more people in the woods during these times of the year. Warmer weather likely also influences their behavior, but the respective rutting periods still occur at the same times of the year.
  7. .41 magnum man

    .41 magnum man Well-Known Member

    Hey, My Road, you are new to hunting and the only way to learn is ask and find some good reading material. And based on what you observed that was actually a good question. Now what you need to do if the topic does come up again is to give that report on photoperiodism and act like you are an expert, just like I did. :D
  8. MyRoad

    MyRoad Well-Known Member

    Will do! I just hope I can I can remember how to spell (or prounounce) photoper... photoperio... oh, forget it! :D
  9. AStone

    AStone Well-Known Member


    Nice essay on photoperiodism (maybe we'll shorten it to pp for ease).

    Funny that I'm a biologist, and my research once involved pp
    {edit: just realized how funny that reads :D ),
    but in plants and insects more than mammals.
    So, I didn't know that deer rut was tied to it. Very interesting.

    I love learning new stuff. :)

    I shouldn't be surprised though. For precise timing of major physiological transitions, a lot of critters know that day length is more reliable as a clock than temperature, so they're cued to pp for changes.

    I'm on the same side of the Cascades as Road, but hoping to hunt (as early as this year) on the other side (east). Long story about why, not relevant here ...

    So this discussion about how to adapt to warmer seasons for hunts is interesting (from a biology/ecology standpoint) and useful (from a hunting standpoint).

  10. eliphalet

    eliphalet Well-Known Member

    Sounds reasonable to me, that animals rut or breeding season would be timed for the spring births. So daylight/darkness sounds perfect, not weather. From what I have read at this latitude, near the 45th parallel, deer rut in November elk in September. I have wondered if that time frame changes a 1000 or so miles north or south. November here can be from about zero to tee-shirt days. Might make it hard to know when to boedeeohdoe in any particular year eh?

    Deer hunting here is in October for the most part, this is why seasons are when they are in this state, to give the animals a better chance at being in a wearier frame of mind and not thinking about the girls as much when man is out trying to kill em. Sounds fair to me doncha think?
    Animals will at times be in different areas depending on the weather, but some stay in the same area year round. So weather could perhaps change hunting to an extent. I know that last year deer were not as plentifully in the areas I have hunted for a couple of decades, but we figured it was because of fire, or maybe even wolves, but perhaps it was weather. I did ask around some but never got a good or what I considered reliable reply.

    All that makes any sense?
  11. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    I think "global warming" and "climate change" are more closely tied to CNN headlines than reality.

    When I was growing up in the 50's-60's we had warm winters and cold winters just like we do now.

    Everybody talks about the snow we had when we were kids. Well, two years ago we had snow cover for 90 days straight. Maybe 1965 I was going to have an ice skating party for my birthday (Jan 12th). IIRC it was maybe 50 degrees. This past winter was cold and seemed like it would never end. In 20 years they'll be saying "used to be cold when I was a kid"

    FWIW...hottest year on record in North America was 1933

    As for cold weather and the rut, I suspect the deer in Canada rut about the same time as Florida and Texas. I've read that the actual rut occurs during a specific moon phase. The reason is so the fawns drop during a dark moon period in the Spring.
  12. AStone

    AStone Well-Known Member

    How interesting.

    Source, please?

    FWIW, we're just talking about warm winter hunting.
    No one in this thread mentioned "global warming" until you.

    Me? I wouldn't touch the topic.
    Clearly just another conspiracy theory.
  13. .41 magnum man

    .41 magnum man Well-Known Member

    Actually, the farther south you go, the later the rut will be. It is closer to the equator, so it is reasonable that though the earth is still tilting, it takes longer for southern areas to have days short enough to trigger the rut. And my understanding is that the farther south you go, the longer it may last. The peak of the rut in our area of Virginia is usually aroung November the 15th. Seems the farther north you go it may be a few days earlier, and if you go south it is later.

    One other thing about the rut, that most of you might know, but I just like to sound important, :) It isn't especially good to concentrate all your hunting efforts to the rut, well more specifically, the peak of the rut. What you want to do is hunt just before the actual mating is occuring while the bucks are still chasing. Because once the actual breeding takes place, those bucks already have their doe and are laying around with her for a day or two so long as she is in heat. She is ready, so he does not have to chase her anymore. Once her cycle is over, he moves on to another receptive doe. So movement is normally slower during that time period also.

    A lot of people take vacations during the peak of the rut and then can't understand why they don't see anything. That is the reason. If you still have time to set your vacation to a certain time, pick the week or two before the peak and you will see more deer.

    I feel so smart. ;)
  14. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    I think maybe thehottest year was 1934. NASA data, and they've corrected the measuring technique. Anyhow, it's fairly easy for me to remember 1934, since I was born that year. :)

    Could be that calling doesn't work when it's on the warm side. In south Texas, rattling horns is a common calling method, except it works best on very cold, still mornings. When it's mild or warm, it's much less effective.

  15. MyRoad

    MyRoad Well-Known Member

    As Nematocyst mentioned, I'm trying to stay away from the "politics", and even the science of weather.

    I'm merely going by the folks who I've talked to who have lived in this region for a long time. Farmers, who are intimately tied to warm/cold trends, construction workers who build houses and race to get the outsides sealed before winter rains comes, etc.

    I've met a bunch of nice folks through hunting, lots of people willing to share their experiences. Many have been relating stories of finding it more difficult to hunt in the warmer falls we've been having, and some are speculating as to why its getting harder to spot deer. Since this appears to be a trend -- and the trend I'm learning how to hunt in -- I want to gather all the information I can.
  16. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Ever think about that layer of tallow a buck builds up before the rut? That's just like wearing a down jacket. Insulation. When it's warmish, Ol' Bucky lays up and doesn't move as much.

    But, the rut's the rut, and a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do--but do it when it's cooler. I'd guess that early morning and late evening would be even more important for sitting and watching.

    During the day, more skill at sneaky-snaking, kicking bucky out of bed to get a shot...

  17. eliphalet

    eliphalet Well-Known Member

    read years ago you can tell what kind of winter is comming by the fat on a deer. I have watched every year since, about 20, and it seems to jold true. If a deer has little fat in the fall, is will be an easy light winter, if there is a heavy layer of fat look out. 1990 the deer had 2 inches at least along their back, we shot that fall, It was a long cold winter here in SW Idaho that year, temps hit an all time low of 25 below.
    How is the fat in deer from colder areas than here?
  18. AStone

    AStone Well-Known Member

    In the US, that is correct. In the US, 1934 "beat" 1998 by 0.02 *C. Globally, 1998 is still the hottest. Full story is here for any who care. I don't - at least not in THIS thread - since that's not the topic proposed for THIS thread, so I hope we'll just let it go and get back to the stated topic of THIS thread:

    Now THAT I'm reading with interest.

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