Indiana and Michigan firearm deer season begins this weekend
Hunters will be hitting the woods this weekend as firearm season starts here in Indiana Saturday and Michigan Sunday. A lot of hunters have been preparing for months now scouting their locations, so that they can have the best chance possible to harvest deer this season. Hunters try to anticipate where deer will be, based off of trails deer have been spotted on, water sources, availability of food, and territory markings on trees and the ground. As a meteorologist, I wanted to dive deeper into how deer move, or deviated from their normal patterns based on weather that occurs during this time of the year. I also wanted to see if deer health, and population numbers can be impacted by weather we have prior to the season beginning.
I sat down with Moriah Boggess, a deer biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, to try and gain a better understanding of how deer could be impacted by weather. I learned that during years where drought conditions are present, leading up to the hunting season, there is typically higher reports of Hemorrhagic Disease. The little midges or gnat like insects spread this disease when biting deer, and they remain a risk until the first frost, or hard freeze. Luckily, this year throughout Indiana and Michigan temperatures have been cold enough to kill off these biting midges. But what about weather during the season? How does weather impact deer movement?
The answer is, weather does not have a direct impact on how and when deer move, especially during The rut. Growing up as a hunter myself, I was always taught deer like to move when its cold, or before/after a full moon, before a storm system moves in. I was also under the impression when it's windy deer don't like to move because it's harder for them to hear. After talking to Moriah, I learned that there is no statistical data that shows this to be the case through multiple studies. When it's the rut, deer are going to move no matter the weather outside. So if you you are a hunter, you need to be in the deer stand as much as possible.
If you harvest a deer this year, and would like to get the deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the Indiana DNR will have a few testing sites in the northeastern and northwestern part of the state. CWD has not yet been detected here in Indiana, but there have been a few cases in Michigan. The link to the DNR website where the testing locations can be found are attached below.