Cold Weather Hunting: Captain’s Column (11.13.14)
By angelamontana

Posted: November 13, 2014

Spending time in the outdoors in cold arctic air in November isn’t for everybody. The major cold front that moved into Montana earlier this week was a pain for some people but not for hunters. The snow and cold is what was missing for the most part last year in November and it made hunting big game more of a challenge. This year, however, the snow and cold has come with nearly two and half weeks left in the general rifle deer and elk hunting season. Snow and cold are always welcome during hunting season, but when it comes right in the middle of the mule deer rut, it’s an added bonus.

Cold weather means elk and deer are out feeding more and the new fresh snow makes it easier for the hunters to spot animals and to follow their tracks in an attempt to get a quality shot. Forage loses its nutritional qualities, and animals often must find new sources and feed for longer periods. So, now is the time for hunters to take advantage of these ideal conditions, especially with snow in the short term forecast.

Since elk and deer use their nose to detect danger keep this tip in mind from on how to walk your hunting area, “Hot air rises when the sun warms the cool ground. This creates columns of air which push smells virtually straight up. In the evening the smells drop straight down. Cool air has pushed many hunters’ odors right down mountain sides to the keen noses of elk and mule deer. Thermals are more of a factor in mountain country where surface temperatures fluctuate due to altitude”.

Bow hunters know that when hunting in the mountains, the wind direction is critical and can switch at anytime. Rifle hunters have an advantage when it comes to wind because, unlike bow hunters, they don’t have to get within 40 yards to get a good shot. For a rifle hunter, 200 yards is ideal, but it is highly likely that they still need to be downwind from the animal to get that shot.

Legendary elk hunter Jim Zumbo points out in his Outdoor Life article titled “Elk by the Seasons” that if you are hunting for bull elk when the cold weather hits they might be away from the herd all by themselves, “In very cold temperatures, elk may linger longer in clearings. Don’t quit glassing until well after legal shooting hours begin. If you have a bull tag and see plenty of cows but no bulls, leave the area and hunt higher, hiking slowly and glassing. Bulls are often in bachelor groups by now and often hang out in higher elevations than cows”. The cold air keeps the elk out feeding longer and the snow and wind help the hunter track the elk and get within a reasonable distance to take a shot.

Hunters are blessed to have all three elements working in their favor with so much time left in this year’s hunting season. Just make sure you are dressed from head to toe to take on what Mother Nature has dished out and have a great hunt.

(Written by the Captain)

New Podcast!