John's Journal...


Hunt the Calm in the Middle of the Storm

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Paul Butski, the president of Butski Game Calls located in Niagara Falls, New York, also enjoys hunting in snowstorms. "I hunt for deer primarily in New York, Canada and the Northwest," Butski said. "Anytime you hunt in snow country, you have about a 50/50 chance you'll have to hunt in a snowstorm. Today, I'll share all the secrets Butski taught me about hunting for deer in a snowstorm.

"I've learned deer move through a storm the same way I do," Butski explained. "They try to get out of the weather and wind, moving through low places where the storm will have the least effect on them." One season, Butski hunted in Saskatchewan, Canada. The hunters with Butski decided to put on a deer drive. When he got out of the car, the snow blew sideways. Click to enlargeKnowing he'd have to brave the misery-causing elements for an hour or more, he found a small, protected draw where the trees blocked the wind and snow and made a calm corridor where the deer could walk. "I'd only waited in the woods 15 minutes," Butski commented. "The drive hadn't even started when I saw a nice buck, at least a 150-class whitetail on the Boone and Crockett scale, coming up the small valley straight toward me. Because I'd bagged big bucks before, I knew how to field judge a nice buck."

As the buck approached Butski's stand, Butski mounted his rifle and prepared for the shot. Studying the buck through his scope while the animal had his head turned away from him, Butski tried to more closely estimate the size of the deer's antlers. "The season before, I'd bagged a 150-class buck," Butski mentioned. "I had decided before this hunt I wouldn't take a shot, unless I saw a buck bigger than 150 points. As I studied this deer's antlers, I wanted to squeeze the trigger. But I knew the buck I already had on my wall outsized him. However, regardless of the decision I had made before the hunt, my subconscious tried to talk me into doing what I said I wouldn't do when I spotted a nice buck like Click to enlargethis." When Butski looked at the antlers once again, he pushed the safety off his gun just as the buck looked his way. But then Butski changed his mind, relaxed his trigger finger and moved the safety back to the locked position. The deer finally saw Butski, snorted, ran 40 yards and stopped again, still within range. Then the buck swiftly retreated into the storm. That's the biggest buck I've ever let go," Butski explained. "And I still dream about him."

Remember, a snowstorm takes away the deer's defenses. In a blowing snowstorm, a buck can't see, hear or smell very well. The animal only has one or two actions he can take to dodge danger. He either can bed down in the thickest cover he can find, or he can get into calm places like valleys, ditches or firebreaks that protect him from the wind and snow. Then the buck can see, smell and even Click to enlargehear better than in more exposed areas. But all the deer will not bed down and remain there throughout the storm. At some point, some of the deer will get up, move around and feed. By looking for the calm spots where you can see and hear the deer better, you most likely will find the bucks because they'll see and hear you better in those same areas," Butski said. "You also must remember that during a snowstorm you usually have more time to take a shot than in calm weather because...
* "deer can't run as fast through heavy snow as they can when little or no snow covers the ground,
* "you can see the deer against the white background at a farther distance than when the ground has little or no snow and
* "a deer won't run very far when the wind really howls if you spook him before he stops and looks back to see what has spooked him. So take your time and wait on the shot."


Check back each day this week for more about HOW TO HUNT DEER IN A SNOWSTORM...

Day 1 - Snow Storm: Ideal Condition for Hunting Deer?
Day 2 - Hear No Evil -- See No Evil
Day 3 - Hunt the Calm in the Middle of the Storm
Day 4 - Hunt the Grocery Rush
Day 5 - Circle The Thickets



Entry 277, Day 3