This is a guest post from acclaimed whitetail habitat consultant, author and deer hunter Jeff Sturgis. Enjoy! – MK
By Jeff Sturgis
Are you hitting the fields in search of an elusive summer giant right now? If you’re like me, I am sure that the majority of your time is incredibly full during the summer with kids, family, fishing, ball games and many other priorities. However I do love to scout whitetails quite a bit this time of year, even if it has to take a backseat to the priority of the summer moment. For that reason I need to be very efficient with my scouting time, and I’m looking forward to sharing with how you can get the most out of your efforts by following the roller-coaster of summer cold front scouting opportunities.
My absolute favorite way to hunt whitetails is by hunting fall cold front conditions. For nearly 20 years I have enjoyed hunting the whims of the weather forecast to realize a very high success rate on targeted mature bucks. Although some of the most outstanding days to hunt are still a few months away, would it surprise you to learn that the factors that you should look for to hunt mature bucks during the fall are the exact set of prime summer cold front scouting conditions that I seek during July, August and early September?
*Are you looking for a great way to choose exactly when to enter your tree stand during the fall? For a complete guide to hunting cold front whitetails, check out “Whitetail Cold Front Hunting Strategies”.
Summer Cold Front Scouting Forecast
So what should you look for when trying to plan for a precision summer scouting opportunity?
1. First and foremost, a significant drop in the forecasted temperature is key. I like to find a drop of at least 6-10 degrees or more.
2. Poor weather serves to increase the value of a cold front. For example, high winds and thunderstorms create stress in the local deer herd, which in turn increases the likelihood that a reclusive old monarch is ready to put the feed bag on as soon as the weather breaks.
3. The calm and cool evening conditions that follow a major weather event can provide a great summer cold front scouting opportunity.
4. “It’s all relative”; meaning that although a temperature drop of 75 to 65 could be worth more than a drop of 85 to 75, it may not be due to many other potential conditions including the extremity of the weather changes, wind speeds, and the conditions prior to the cold front.
5. The more boring and calm prior to the cold front, the greater the value of the change created by the front.
How much of drop do you need to look for? I took this screenshot (above) of the weather forecast for Jackson, MI from Saturday July 25th to Monday July 27th. It is important to point out that all summer cold front scouting conditions are not created equal, even with similar forecasted conditions. Saturday the 25th is the 5th day in a row of nearly identical conditions, and not a day that I personally would prioritize. However, those consistent and boring conditons help to set up the higher value days in the forecast that reflect a significant change. With a major jump in the temperature and weather extremity factor on Sunday 88 with the possibility of severe weather, Monday’s forecast of 78 and “cloudy and not as warm”, reflects a 10 degree forecasted temperature drop, as well as much calmer, more stable and less stressful conditions.
Although the overall temperature drop sets the stage for prime summer scouting opportunities, it is the difference in the overall changes that increase the value of a forecasted temperature drop. The more extreme the weather, the higher the value for a potential scouting mission when the weather conditions improve. Also, the more consistent and boring the conditions prior to the temperature drop, the higher the value for the backside of the Summer cold front.
I encourage you to practice your own summer cold front scouting forecast as often as possible during the next couple of months because you can develop a great deal of confidence by the time late October rolls around. At the same time, this is a great opportunity to keep tabs on some of the local giants in your area. Will those summer monarchs be in the exact same location during the hunting season? Probably not, but by following the roller-coaster of summer cold front scouting opportunities, you will be prepared for whichever buck decides to cruise your way after his antlers turn to bone and the harsh fall winds begin to blow.