I don’t like being hot. This is probably because I work outside as a wildlife biologist. If your job keeps you inside, then an air conditioner keeps you comfy. However when it’s cold I can add more layers/thermal insulation and be comfy. I like being active when it’s colder than normal as the activity helps keep me warm. I also eat more as the calories help warm me from the inside.
Deer can also change their thermal insulation. Deer produce and shed two types of hair each year. A shorter hair is grown during the spring that allows heat to escape. Their summer coat is lighter in color compared to their fall coat so it reflects light/heat and helps them remain cool.
Deer shed (its called molt) their summer coat beginning about August and replace it with hair that is much longer and darker. The longer hair helps trap in body heat and the darker color helps deer absorb the sun’s energy. Deer can also cause their hair to stand up and trap more of their body heat or lay down and allow the heat to escape easier as an effort to cool off. However, when it’s hotter than normal, it’s tough for a deer to get cool enough to remain comfortable. Imagine having a heavy down coat on during a hot spell in October. Even if you unzip it (like a deer lays its hair down), you would still be hot – and even hotter if you were active during the day. That’s why daytime deer activity during hot days in October seems to drop to zero.
I use this information to my advantage. There’s almost always some hot, uncomfortable days during October. I simply go back to wearing clothes designed to keep me comfortable during warm temperatures. Since deer don’t have that option, they tend to only be active during periods of darkness or just at sunrise and sunset – hence I know when they will be active.
In addition, I know with a great deal of certainty where deer will be active during those conditions. Deer tend to bed on the north side of ridges in hilly country or by creek bottoms/water/deep shade in areas with flatter topography. Even though hunting can be tough when the temperatures are higher than normal during October, knowing when and where likely to be active gives hunters an advantage that can help to compensate for the lack of daytime activity.
When it’s warmer than normal during October, I know my chances for seeing deer active during daylight hours are slim, but are usually only right at dawn and dusk. The best stands will probably be close to bedding areas, as deer will likely be returning to their bedroom right at daylight or leaving their bedroom just before dark.
October can be hot, but can provide good hunting if you consider what motivates a buck during these conditions. Be temperature wise, and you may find a great buck.
Growing and hunting deer together.