LAST UPDATED: November 5th, 2020
Barometric pressure is perhaps the hottest buzzword in the hunting world today. It has been a topic of conversation among researchers and experienced hunters alike. A quick internet search will reveal an overwhelming number of videos, podcasts, and articles written on barometric pressure and how it may or may not influence deer movement.
For a deeper look into the subject, I checked out research by the Mississippi State University DeerLab, and chatted with a few of the biggest buck killers in the industry.
Barometric Pressure 101
Atmospheric pressure, better known as barometric pressure, is the pressure within the atmosphere of Earth. According to meteorologist Justin Steinbrink of Green Bay Wisconsin’s WLUK Fox 11 Station, “barometric pressure is often associated with sky condition and wind speeds, but not as directly related to temperature.”
He continues saying, “rising pressure typically brings clearing skies and lighter winds, and the opposite with dropping pressure.” Steinbrink is not an avid hunter and did not comment on how it could affect deer movement.
What Does Research Say?
One of Strickland’s main arguments surrounding barometric pressure could be due to human biases. Strickland continues saying, “Let’s say you’ve got two days you can hunt. One day is above average and the next day is going to be a little colder. Which day are you going to hunt? You are going to hunt the colder day because you have in your head the deer are going to be moving, you won’t be swatting mosquitos, and it will be a more pleasant sit.”
Mark Drury disagrees with Strickland’s finding’s, saying he hunts every single day of archery season whether that be in Iowa, Texas, or Missouri. Mark said, “I would love to have a biologist take a 10-day study on my farm, I could tell them when they are going to move and when they won’t. You can watch the same field 10 nights in a row, on 2 or 3 nights you’ll see 40-50 deer and other nights you may only see 2, its all dependent on fronts—and pressure plays a huge role.”
Strickland finished by saying, “my human bias wants to believe those cooler days will have more deer moving, but our research shows weather conditions had an inconsistent influence on deer movement within the season.”
The Hunting Observations
For another view on barometric pressure, I chatted with Jared Mills of the popular web show Midwest Whitetail. Mills has taken his fair share of mature bucks in Iowa and said, “I pay a lot of attention to barometric pressure, but it doesn’t dictate when I hunt. I pay attention so I can learn more about deer movement in general. For me, it seems to be a very critical factor, but I am still that guy who doesn’t miss any opportunity to be in the woods.”
I believe Jared’s comments echo the thoughts of many hunters. Most hunters are giving barometric pressure it’s due attention, but if people have a chance to hunt, they will go regardless of the pressure reading.
The latter comment brings up another excellent question. Does barometric pressure influence your stand choices? Mills said he puts the most stock in a temperature drop-off, but will consider pressure readings as well. “For me, pressure needs to be combined with other factors. I really pay attention to winds and I do not see great movement until after heavy wind subsides during a front.”
The Results Don't Lie...In Either Case
Research does not lie, neither do eyeballs. While research shows one thing, it is impossible for most of us to do a research study on our hunting property. So, what do you follow? In my opinion, you follow your observations and key in on what makes deer move on your property, not research conducted in Oklahoma.
There is no fooling; my trail cameras light up during high pressure readings. I have observed thousands of trail camera photos which indicate high pressure contributing to high deer movement. What do you see on your land, did the research findings from MSU surprise you