It was September 13, 2011 and I decided today I was going to wait until about 1 p.m. and start my day of hanging and moving cameras, film a pasture with some loaded apple trees, and go for a ride spotlighting deer in the fields when it became dark. I did not decide to look at the weather that day except for which way the wind was going to be blowing so I knew what side of the field to set up on. I had no clue what I was getting into as far as the weather went except for the fact that it was warm and sunny at the time. I remember my wife telling me it was supposed to rain but I could not remember if it was for today or tomorrow. I didn’t have a connection on my smart phone so I had no way of checking. What was being called for was some of the nastiest isolated storms you could imagine. One big band of darker than red radar stretched across a quarter of the state and was headed to my exact location! Remember, I had no idea this was happening and the evening of September 13 is one I will probably never forget and I believe this is why:
I am no scientist or deer expert biologist if you ask me, I just go with my gut and take what I have learned from the deer I hunt and observe, in the areas I hunt and observe, and use it to my best advantage. I believe deer may act a little different in some parts of the country than the way they may act in others. I feel that different weather, terrain, food, pressure, and previous winter conditions dictate a lot of how deer may act in a specific location. Last winter was a very tough winter for the deer herd up north here in Elk and Jefferson Counties. There were lots of ice and many inches of snow on the ground for long periods of time. This made it very tough for the deer to find food to make it through the winter months. I feel that a deer does not forget how hard it was to get food during these times and it becomes implanted in their minds for a lifetime. When they feel that huge drop in pressure from a big front coming in, they will want to get food in their bellies as soon as possible because they know tough times are coming. Those feelings of the pressure dropping or rising I feel reminds them of what they went through when a previous storm hit their habitat. How can we use this to our advantage as hunters and deer observers? If the storm front times your area just right, you may have one of the best nights in the field just like I did.
I pulled out of a long dirt road I had gone back earlier in day when I was filming. Just to my right was a small rye grass field along a woods line and some golden rod. It was still light enough to see and there stood two great bucks. Both bucks were in their 120’s or maybe 130’s. I thought cool; let’s try to get the camera on them. I was a little too slow and didn’t get any footage of those two. That was ok because that was just the beginning of the flood gates opening, and I am not talking about the rain that was coming.
The front was set to hit this area at about 9:30 p.m. It was 7:45 p.m. at the time I saw the first two bucks. As I pulled down the dirt road there was a field across the main road that I could see for a very long way. The field was littered with whitetails. Does, small bucks, big bucks, it had everything. I drove along and filmed a few deer and got a nice big 8 pointer along with some others. I went to the next spot, a couple nicer bucks and a bunch of other deer, then to the next spot and again the same thing. I then drove back another hidden driveway/road and there was a stud of a whitetail just out eating at a rye field. This big mature buck seemed to have nothing on his mind except for lying in the field and eating grass. This deer is close to 150 inches but I don’t think he is quite there. All in all an absolutely beautiful deer. It was the same story every where went. I saw probably over 120 deer in less than two hours and I would say at least a dozen shooter bucks.
This area is not some honey hole place that holds huge amounts of deer and big bucks either. These fields are all up against mainly public land. They got go be living somewhere in the public land woods. The timing of this storm front was just perfect and it got these northern PA whitetails up on their feet for us spotters to see at a perfect time. The storm hit us hard at about 9:30 p.m. and that was about it for the deer sightings. As the storm was hitting us for the first moments we could see deer all over the fields from the flashes of lightning but they were starting to head for cover.
High winds and crazy amounts of bright flashes is what put these deer to their beds. The foresight of these deer knowing what was coming is what put a smile on my face with all that action. If you use a spotlight to scout this time of year, don’t be afraid to go out in a heavy rain. I have seen some of the biggest bucks spotting during a heavy rainfall. If there are high winds mixed with the rain, save your gas for another night. If you can hit those fields before that storm comes be ready to see some big boys on their feet!
If you have questions for Adam contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can get more videos of Adam and see some of his raw footage by subscribing to the PAXThunter YouTube channel. The season is almost upon us. GET PUMPED!