Though not likely applicable to hunting whitetails in states where the temperature does not commonly drop below ten degrees during a hunting season, a thaw or near thaw with the wind calm or light following a few days of very cold weather will trigger an unusually productive 2–3 hour period to hunt sometime between 11 AM and 3 PM. Not realizing this, most northern deer hunters waste these hours thawing out in camp or automobiles and having lunch.
I’ll never forget the last time it happened. Following our third morning of 12-below zero temperatures with bitter winds blowing, everyone was back in camp shivering by 9–10 AM. While we sat around our cracking, two-barrel wood stove, complaining about the lack of deer sightings (only two bucks taken thus far), the weather was beginning to make an unexpected change outside. A warming sun was emerging from the clouds and the wind was dying. I didn’t notice the change until I heard drops of melting snow dripping from an eave of our tent, after which I immediately stepped outside to check our thermometer. Moments later I rushed back in, excitedly saying, “Get right back out there you guys. We’re about to have a midday thaw. Every deer in the woods is going to be up and feeding in a matter of minutes!”
While heading back to our feeding area stand sites that morning, most of us saw deer (I saw three does and glimpsed a buck). During the next sixty minutes, single shots echoed across our hunting area. By noon we had taken our self-imposed limit of five mature bucks (established years earlier to avoid over-hunting our older bucks).
NEVER MISS STAND HUNTING MIDDAY WHILE A THAW OR NEAR-THAW IS IN PROGRESS AND THE WIND IS LIGHT OR CALM FOLLOWING TWO OR MORE DAYS OF BITTERLY COLD WEATHER.