October Cold Fronts | Predicting and Hunting Them
Nothing makes a grown man as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning like an October cold front. That’s right, if you see a cold front headed your way in the extended weather forecast do your best to cancel any plans in exchange for a date with the deer woods. Trust us, sparks will be flying. Not many things can get a big mature buck up during daylight, but a cold front is one of those things that can. Within a short span of 24 hours or less you can go from singing the October lull blues to celebrating with a fist pumping rodeo dance 20 feet up after smoking your target buck. Yup, that’s how fast the weather can change things.
With each passing day a buck’s testosterone level continues to creep towards its peak and the urge to sit still becomes harder and harder.
Why Do Bucks Move During Cold Fronts?
Before diving into how to strategically hunt and analyze impending cold fronts, it’s critical to understand typical deer behavior during October first. Around much of the country October is a pleasant time to be out in the woods, but the buck sightings can often be far and few between. Why is this? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so simple. To put it plainly, October is a month of many transitions for both the whitetails themselves and their surrounding habitat.
First and foremost, October movement is largely dictated by their thick fur coat. By October deer have traded in their summer coats for a darker and much heavier winter coat. With many October days still reaching the 60’s and even 70’s, it’s no wonder why they don’t feel like moving until it’s dark – it’s just too hot. Unlike humans whitetails have no sweat glands to help keep them cool when temperatures rise. Thus, cold fronts typically trigger increased daytime movement. Without a doubt, air temperature is perhaps the most powerful influence on daytime deer activity.
Food is Everywhere
Another challenge hunters face in October is an abundance of food. When quality nutrition is seemingly around every corner, deer tend to move very little during daylight which makes hunting them even tougher. As the month progresses, ag fields are harvested and leafy browse turns and falls to the ground leaving whitetails with fewer options, ultimately causing them to travel further distances to destination feeding areas. The more they need to travel, the better the odds you have of catching a big buck on his feet. Aside from less food, colder temps also trigger a whitetails need for high energy foods. If a cold front is on it’s way, you can bet the deer will be seeking foods like soybeans and corn which are high in carbohydrates to stay warm and help them bulk up before the physical demands of the rut.
Though a buck’s sex drive begins to increase in early October, their quest for food, resentment of heat, and does being a month or more away from entering estrous keeps them calm, cool and collected. As a result they continue to travel little, spending the majority of daylight bedded. This is all about to change when the rut kicks in full gear, but for now we wait for cold fronts.
Identifying Cold Fronts
With the help of smartphones and weather apps, weather forecasts are always at the tip of your finger. One such tool you should be using to keep a bead on the weather is the HuntStand App. The HuntStand App makes it easier than ever to know exactly when to hunt with their integrated weather data. Through the app, you can pull up exact weather data for specific stand locations. From there you can dive in further and get current conditions, a three day outlook, and even a five day outlook. Better yet, the three day outlook displays hour by hour projections along with an intuitive chart so you can know exactly when a cold front is headed your way.
The 72 hour chart display HuntStand offers makes it incredibly easy to pinpoint major temperature changes that are worth hunting. All you are looking for is a drop in the temperature chart. Find that and you’ve identified a cold front. Above normal temperatures almost always suppress deer activity, while colder than normal temperatures usually enhance it. Using extended day forecasts, it’s easy to see when you should be out hunting with a few clicks on your phone. Focus in on any day where you see a dramatic temperature drop (>10˚F) from the day before and you’ll want to be on your stand. The bigger the drop the better the deer activity you can expect to see.
Deer Hunting a Cold Front
When it comes to hunting a cold front specifically, it’s all about timing. Without a doubt, the front end and back end of a front are two of the best times to be in the woods chasing that target buck of yours. During October, it’s not uncommon to go from a day in the 60’s or 70’s to one in the 40’s or 50’s overnight. In most cases, the first day of colder temps is going to be prime. That almost instant change in air temperature triggers deer to move, thus, you should be in your stand. Every weather system that moves through varies in length, which also means so do your opportunities. If cold air is set to hold for a few days, you can expect the same for increased daytime movement. Likewise, if the cold front is expected to last only a day, you better be ready to hunt THAT day. Again, this information is always at your fingertips with the help of HuntStand.
Best Areas to Hunt During a Cold Front
Now that you know when you should be hunting, lets dive into a few areas you should plan on hunting over or near during cold fronts.
Grains: The first cold front hotspot should come as no surprise as it’s known that deer hammer the grains during bouts of cold weather. Target corn and soybean fields or food plots that deer frequent and try to get setup on or between them and the expected bedding areas. Cold weather will get bucks on their feet earlier than normal, which means that shooter buck that has a knack for showing up under the cover of darkness just might make a daytime appearance.
Scrapes and Rubs: Two other October cold front hotspots are scrapes and rubs. Bucks will often scent check and work these areas as a way of communicating with each other. You’ll typically find a plethora of scrapes and rubs along transition lines in the habitat. Again, HuntStand has you covered. Using the aerial imagery within the app you can determine the edges/transition lines that warrant a scouting mission. If you find a good rub or scrape line that appears active don’t waste any time. Hunt it on the first cold front to hit as bucks will be up on their feet checking and marking these communication hubs. Remember, their testosterone levels are rising rapidly throughout the month, so each day closer to November means a better chance of capitalizing on a lovesick buck.