How Warmer Temperatures are Effecting the Deer Season
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How Warmer Temperatures are Effecting the Deer Season

The deer hunt is a tradition in Wisconsin that may have been threatened by the abnormally warm weather this fall.

Hunters have expressed their worry over the warmer temperatures in November thinking that the deer will not be moving around as much which may make the deer harder to find.

When asked why cold and snow were so desirable for the hunting season, Bryce Hammen, hunter and senior psychology major, said that with snow on the ground it is much easier to track a buck that has been shot but did not drop right away. “Plus, it’s tradition, you’re supposed to have snow with gun season,” he said.

Although it is similar to how Christmas is traditionally supposed to have snow, hunting season in Wisconsin does not seem to require cold temperatures or snow for a successful hunt.

The Department of Natural Resources Big Game Harvest Summary for 2015 said there were abnormally high temperatures during last year’s hunt as well. Compared to the year before, the harvest increased by almost 7,000 deer in 2015 despite the rise in temperature.

Mike Maki, senior biochemistry major, said that with the colder temperatures, deer tend to move around more in order to keep warm, but are also slower, making them easier targets. Research by life-long hunters tells a different story.

In an article by Daniel Schmidt, editor-in-chief of Deer and Deer Hunting, he said that it is the barometric pressure that influences deer foraging activity. Schmidt said that despite the temperature, or whether a front is coming in or on its way out of an area, the ideal pressure in the air is between 29.80 and 30.29 inches.

This theory has been supported by scientific research that confirms white tail deer as having a biological mechanism that can detect impending weather changes. With this information, the temperature does not seem to have a direct effect on the hunt, but rather the change in temperature does.

Climate change is an obvious association to make with the prolonged warm weather seen in Wisconsin the past few years. Without the drop in temperature that has been typically seen prior to deer season, it is possible that the dates for hunting season to be moved later in the year.

Deer hunting is a large part of the tourism economy of Wisconsin and if climate change is affecting the season in a negative way, there may be other unseen consequences of the climate shift.

The opening weekend of gun season this year was preceded by a quick shift in temperatures from the unusual 50’s and 60’s to the more normal 30’s, and a light snowfall. Following the logic of the researchers mentioned in Deer and Deer Hunting, this season should have yielded a bountiful harvest.

Hunters were lucky this year but they may not be again due to the trending warmer averages in global temperature.

Samantha Stein


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