Identifying and Hunting Cold Fronts in October and November

How to Read and Hunt October and November Cold Fronts

The relationships between deer movement and weather changes are well documented. A cold snap in October and November after a stretch of warm weather can be one of the best times to hunt deer. Hunting cold fronts start with being able to recognize them and exploiting the changes in deer movement to your advantage.

Identifying October and November Cold Fronts

A cold front is much more sophisticated than simply a decrease in air temperature. In fact, temperate is only one of four main characteristics that define these transition zones of cooler air replacing the warmer air. Before you can start to capitalize on deer hunting cold fronts, you have to be able to identify the characteristics before, during, and after the front moves through.

Weather characteristics before, during, and after a cold front. 

Weather Element  Before a Cold Front  During a Cold Front  After a Cold Front 
Temperature  Warm  Sharp cooling  Stable cooling 
Barometric Pressure  Decreasing  Sharp increase  Increasing gradually  
Precipitation  Patchy to light  Consistent  Light then clearing 
Wind  Southwest/southeast  Gusty, swirling  Northwest 


The Inverse Relationship Between Deer Movement and Temperature

A significant temperature drop during a cold front in October or November triggers some of the best deer activity of the season. Think of deer movement and temperature as inversely related. For example, mature bucks especially will increase their daytime activity as temperatures fall with a passing cold front.

The reason deer movement increases during and after a cold front and thus why you should be hunting cold fronts is two-fold. First, deer have their winter coats by the time mid-October rolls around. Warm weather keeps deer from moving during the day when it is the hottest for them, which is why mornings are often best for early season bow hunting. Second, colder weather requires additional calorie intake to sustain their body temperature. The best deer movement in October and November besides rutting activity is going to be when a cold front pushes through. Deer will be more comfortable moving around and quite frankly need to in order to feed. The bottom line is hunting cold fronts can be your best chance at a buck outside of the rut.

3 Approaches for Hunting Cold Fronts

When to hunt a cold front can be answered several different ways.

  1. Approaching Cold Front – Increased winds, overcast skies, and decreasing pressure signal to deer a cold front is approaching. Hunting an approaching cold front is not ideal as deer are often unpredictable. A better strategy for pre-cold front hunts is to save stands where you are hunting a particular buck for after the front passes. Focus more on community areas to avoid spooking out a resident buck and killing your season. 
  2. First Morning After a Cold Front – The best time to hunt deer is the morning after a cold front passes. As temperatures stabilize and skies clear, mature whitetail bucks will be moving towards food sources and also concentrating on pre-rut or rut activities depending on the time of year. A strategy that works well is utilizing a mock scape and blind calling with a Knight and Hale grunt call near bedding areas to catch a waking buck on the move the morning after a cold front. 
  3. Evening Sit PostCold Front – The morning after a cold front may be the best but the first evening post cold front is a close second. Deer will have fully embraced a passing cold front by evening and the feeding frenzy will be on. Hunt stands over quality food sources such as acorns and mid-season food plots post cold front. Make sure to get into stand early because the front will have deer moving earlier and you can risk getting busted if you head to your stand too late.


Hunting November Cold Fronts During the Rut

What do you do if a cold front moves through in November right in the peak of the rut? You hunt of course!

Stick to your rut game plan regardless of a passing cold front. A mistake some hunters make is to shift their focus to tree stands positioned over traditional cold front locations such as food sources mentioned above. However, if rut activity is hot in particular areas, you should be hunting those spots. Deer hunting cold fronts during the rut will only increase rut activity and the chances to get a buck close in the daytime.

Early season bow hunting is nearing the end and pre-rut activities are at the door. A cold front in October or November, particularly after a warm spell, can produce your best chances outside of the rut to harvest a mature whitetail. Understand the front will affect deer movement and pick your approach for hunting cold fronts.

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