Barometric Pressure and How it Affects Deer Movement

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It’s only common for us hunters to start paying more attention to the weather as deer season starts.  Naturally, we are aware of every single change in the atmosphere. From the sudden cloud coverage on a crisp fall day, to the slight drizzle of snow you weren’t expecting, to the noisy wind shaking the trees, it’s not hard to notice these conditions when you are on the hunt for big bucks.  However, it is easy to forget one of the most significant weather factors in deer movement: barometric pressure.

Although barometric pressure is a very crucial element to deer movement, it is difficult to judge.  Is it rising? Is it falling? Most likely, you don’t have the technology or the tools in your hunting bag to measure whether or not barometric pressure is optimal for deer movement.  Nevertheless, we have developed several easy tips and tricks to help you best gauge your favorite hunting spots with barometric pressure in mind.

What Really is Barometric Pressure?

I am sure you have all heard meteorologists say on the news that we have a “high-pressure” system heading our way, or vice versa, and did not really understand way that truly entailed.  Well, this phrasing is just another way of referring to a weather system increasing, or decreasing, in barometric pressure. Barometric pressure is a result of air molecules above the earth’s surface being very dense, or very spread out.  When the air molecules are dense, and packed very tightly, we call this a high pressure system, resulting in low humidity, few clouds, etc. However, when the air molecules are not as dense, clouds, snow, and rain can follow.

In other words, as the air is cooling it is also rising, which causes water vapor to condense in the air (hence, the rain, snow, etc.)  Conversely, when air is sinking due to warming and drying conditions, the weather is getting more “tolerable”, if you will, due to the molecules spreading out.

Tips For Hunting Both Low and High Barometric System

Now, I am sure you are asking yourself “how does this relate to hunting whitetail?” And that is valid.  Deer have to move regardless. Whether they are feeding, or bedding, they are going to be active, but, there are specific times they will be more active. For the most part, a change in the weather brings about an increase in whitetail activity. Whether that change is good resulting in calm, clear weather or bad resulting in a treacherous storm, they will move to adjust to the changes happening.  However, in order to maximize your time afield it’s important to understand which days are best to hunt.

Hunting a Low Pressure System

Deer are a lot like humans when it comes to their activity pre and post weather front. Hunting just before a storm (low barometric pressure system) rolls in is an excellent time to be afield. Deer understand that impending weather is on the way and as a result they begin to feed in order to survive hours (or days) of inactivity and/or limited food.

Us hunters need to understand exactly when the barometric pressure is dropping so we can either be at our stand or head their immediately. The danger in waiting too long is that while the pressure may be falling, the weather has reached the point that the hunting is no longer good.

For example, if a barometric pressure is falling, heavy winds, and possibly a storm, will follow. High winds stifle deer movement and the ones who do choose to move are usually quite nervous, making their movements quick. That makes them even harder to kill.  Therefore, it is important to hunt the “beginning” of a low pressure system when the storm is knocking on the front door rather than when it is coming through the door.

Hunting a High Pressure System

Conversely, hunting after a storm passes (high barometric system) is also a great time to be in the whitetail woods. Once again, however, timing is everything to taking advantage of this weather change. You want to be out there as soon as the pressure begins to rise. Just like with a falling pressure system, if you wait too long you will miss optimal movement.

A good example for superior high pressure hunting signals is to wait until the tail end of a storm.  If you are a serious hunter, and want to see some serious movement, head to the stand and deal with the weather.  Increased deer movement and sightings will begin to happen right as the weather is breaking and the pressure is rising.  Making sure that you are there for the break in the storm is key to your whitetail success.

Putting It All Together: Why Does it Really Matter?

With your knowledge of whitetail, and your new knowledge of barometric pressure, you are sure to be seeing success afield.  However, it is still a good idea to stay abreast of the barometric pressure in your hunting area and adjust your time afield accordingly. Without a doubt, knowing what the pressure in your area is doing in a quick and timely manner can definitely increase your chances of success by maximizing the time you spend in the deer woods. Staying on top of how the barometric pressure is changing hourly will keep you in the field at the most optimal times (see the HuntWise app hourly prediction tab).

Even further, if you want to see the big bucks, the calculated ratio of bucks to does sighted when the pressure is between 30.00 – 30.40 is a staggering 1 to 1.  When the pressure is dropping and calculated at 29.8 - 30.00, the chances of seeing big bucks drops to 1 in 3. Nonetheless, understanding pressure systems along with your knowledge and experience hunting whitetail is sure to make this season a successful.

Good luck, hunters.  Be safe out there, and shoot straight.