By Josh Hillyard
With record high temps sweeping across much of the Midwest over the past few days, it may seem like November is months away. But we’re actually under the two week mark til sweet November and with that being said, pre-rut action will be starting to pick up shortly. Even with past couple days of high temps, the current weather has me excited for the next several days. By the weekend here in Michigan, temps will be down into the low to mid 50’s, which is nearly a 20-25 degree drop!
Last year around this time, we had Jeff Sturgis on the podcast and while listening to that episode again recently, one of the main topics that stood out to me was Jeff’s criteria for timing high quality sits. There are several reasons it’s important to try to determine when your high quality sits are going to be. Of course it’s important to be able to manage your time between hunting and spending time with friends/family, finishing your work around the house, etc – but maybe most importantly, focusing on high quality sits helps avoid educating the deer to your presence when the conditions are not ideal. One of the things Jeff said that stuck with me was “a fresh stand is the best stand”. And that couldn’t be more true!
There are three key factors that go into his decision making process of determining a high quality sit:
- A drop in temperature
- A change in wind speeds
- Multiple boring days, or conditions for low quality sits, in a row
The first item Jeff looks for is a drop in the temperature. Here is what Jeff had to say about cold fronts and why he really keys in on this aspect. “When that big cold front comes through, (you get) clearing skies and cool conditions, and when you have those conditions, you have a high barometric pressure.” Jeff said he doesn’t necessarily pay specific attention to barometric pressure but naturally the days after cold fronts typically have the factors that contribute to high barometric pressure. As we have talked before, colder temps and high pressure tends to lead to increased movement. Jeff not only looks at a change in afternoon high’s, but also at morning to morning low temps and a drop in those temperatures.
The second item in the weather pattern that Jeff looks for is a change in wind speed. “It’s not that you can’t have a moderate wind speed and go out and shoot a buck. But to me, it’s all about a difference in wind. Say for example a drop from 50 mph to 25mph … it’s really about that change”. It’s similar to temperature, where it is all about the change to set-up that high quality day. Many times on these cold fronts that come in, the front end of the cold front can be pretty nasty with some heavy winds and heavy rain and storms. The couple of days after those heavy winds and/or storms can be great high quality sits as those wind speeds start to calm.
And the third item Jeff is looking for is a string of less than optimal days in a row. That may mean high temps or it may just mean a few days where the weather is boring or stagnant. Once there is a change in the forecast, the couple of days after those poor weather days in a row can lead to a high quality sit! “When you are looking at October 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and you have those 4 poor days in a row, man, when the 15th drops and there are some heavy winds on the front and maybe some pounding rain and thunderstorms, when it calms, the pressure is rising, blue skies and cool temperatures, then man, those 4 or 5 days of poor weather really serve to set up that day.” It’s interesting to look at the weather pattern this week and how similarly it aligns to when we spoke with Jeff last year. We have had 3-4 days in a row of temps in the mid to upper 70s. We had some strong winds a day or two ago, rain storms roll through last night and today, and now we have a 20-25 degree drop in temps from yesterday through the weekend. That has me excited for the next several days of hunting as they look to perfectly meet Jeff’s criteria for a high quality sit!
If you want more insight into this topic, or other topics we discussed, such as how Jeff chooses stand locations during the pre-rut, how to use the wind and topography to your advantage this time of year, and much more – be sure to listen to Episode #77 of the Wired to Hunt Podcast! This one is well worth another listen as you start to formulate your hunting plans for not only this weekend but the next couple of weeks leading up to November.
– Josh Hillyard
For more from Jeff Sturgis, visit WhitetailHabitatSolutions.com