Early-season deer hunting put on shelf by oppressive Autumn heat

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The calendar quietly flipped to October this week, but no one would ever know it because it’s still brutally hot outside with temperatures well into the 90s each day.

That oppressive record heat is puzzling meteorologists who are wondering when an ending will come. Deer hunters around the state are wondering the same thing, because they have absolutely no chance to have successful seasons until the weather pattern drastically changes.

Deer hunting is open for archery hunters around the state. Other hunters will get their shot later in the month based on where one hunts in Louisiana’s deer hunting zoning maps.

But right now, it doesn’t much matter.

With temperatures in the 90s, deer aren’t moving — at all.

One can legally go on a hunt, but the only thing you’ll kill is your hydration, sweating without a kill.

“The deer aren’t going to move if it’s this hot,” Houma hunter Jeff Rousse said. “Think about it. If you had to hunt for food, would you move when the sun was out? No, right? That’s the same place the deer are in. They’re preserving their energy as best they can and trying to move as little as possible. That hurts us in our early-season hunting.”

Rousse’s comments are backed by science.

Biologists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries say that deer don’t move when the weather is warm. Instead, they lie in thick grasses to stay cool.

Their digestive system dictates that in warmer weather, they can stay idle and avoid burning calories, meaning that they can eat the bare minimum and stay nourished.

When it’s cooler, the deer have to burn energy to keep themselves warm. That’s when they take to grazing and perusing for food, putting them in contact with hunters ready to make a harvest.

Rousse said a lot of hunters get the itch and want to go out on the first day of the season — even if just to conduct somewhat of a trial run.

But he cautioned against that, saying that early-season hunting when it’s too warm can do a lot of harm — more harm than good.

“What you’re doing is you’re leaving a scent for no good reason,” Rousse said. “It’s like football. Would you run all of your trick plays right in front of your opponent at practice? Well, if you can’t kill anything, why go out there and leave a scent? Deer have amazing senses of smell. They will pick up on that scent and they’re smart enough to know to avoid areas where that scent has been left.”

So when will it change?

A front will dip through locally, but it will only drop temperatures from unbearable to the 80s. Low temperatures will be in the upper 50s and 60s, but that’s still too warm for sustained activity.

Experts say we need to have a sustained period of days where low temperatures are in the lower 50s for activity to be better, and the colder, the better.

Will we get that anytime soon?

Who knows?

But for now, a slight taste of cold is welcome, because it’s at least a sign that the season won’t be lost after all.

“It has to cool down eventually, right?” Rousse said. “Hopefully sooner, rather than later.”