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Effects of Extreme Weather Patterns on Hunting
There’s a lot of talk about the unusual and extreme weather caused by the El Nino weather patterns and the effects it will have on the deer and other wild game populations for next hunting season. Because deer and other wild game are affected by unusual high or low temperatures and the winds and precipitation that come with these irregular patterns it might seem that we should be concerned. Many of us across the United States experienced record high temperatures this past Fall and some of us, especially the Northeastern United States experienced record lows, and unusually high amounts of snowfall.
Unusual Weather During the Season
The effect the weather has during deer season is different than the effects on the season following abnormal temperatures. For example, deer will decrease their daytime activity during warmer temperatures in order to conserve energy and they tend to become more active at night, when they can’t be hunted. If the weather is cooler than normal the deer will seek food in order to store up energy for rut and become a much easier target. So therefore, colder weather during the season is desirable, warmer than normal weather is undesirable during the hunting season.
The Following Season
On the other hand, the severe winter weather that many of us have just faced with unusually large amounts of snow in areas that the deer aren’t accustomed to, can greatly reduce the deer population for the coming season. So what does this mean for next season? Is it actually a negative thing?
Past records show that when you have a mild and warm Fall followed by an unusually cold Winter with longer periods of extreme temperatures the population will be reduced for the following Fall. However, it is not necessarily how cold or hot it gets, it’s about the length of time the temperatures remain extreme. Here in the Southeast, we probably aren’t going to experience drastic drops in any wildlife population because the weather changes so frequently anyway, even during the irregular patterns caused by El Nino. On the other hand, in the Northeast, the last few weeks have been tough for the wildlife and they aren’t getting much relief from the icy weather. Will this affect their population? It could. It all depends on if the temperature stays that way long enough to alter migration patterns or if their food becomes scarce. Just remember animals are much more resilient than humans.
Survival of the Fittest
Of course, there is a positive side to a decrease in deer population caused by unusual weather patterns. Extreme temperatures whether hot or cold can actually help filter out the bad genes, so the weaker of the herd dies and with him he wipes out his bad genes and we are left with stronger healthier and more desirable deer. Hunting doesn’t always cleanse the herd of the weak, because we aren’t typically aiming for the weaker buck.
Take Advantage of The Weather
If we just let the weather do it’s thing and spend our time utilizing the off-season for training we’ll be better equipped for the next hunting season no matter what it brings. We can always take advantage of the warmer days to help get our dogs some exercise and the icy days to build up their tolerance of the cold.