Don’t Over-think

6 Aug

I feel that high pressure and moon positioning does have an effect on deer movement. But should you consider it if you can only hunt a certain number of days throughout the season?


Does the moon phase really matter if you can only hunt specific days?

Does the moon phase really matter if you can only hunt specific days?


Barometric pressure, moon phase, wind direction, scent profile, temperature, precipitation, tree stand location, tree stand access, terrain, blah blah blah blah blah blah… Are you really supposed consider all these things before heading out to the timber? Over the last couple months I have been doing a lot of research and reading on a variety of topics regarding deer movement and how the above list positively or negatively effects that movement. But do we need to know or even care about all these things?

Typically I save my vacation days for the first two weeks of November for the rut. On top of those 14 days, I hunt during the weekends in October. This year I might even get to hunt once during the week on a closer property, depending on how busy my wife is with her business. With that said, when it comes time to hunt… I hunt. For me, and I’m assuming most of you, we don’t have the luxury of  taking off to our favorite hunting spot during the middle of the week. Time is limited, and I’ll be in the timber no matter what the conditions are. For the most part, the days I can hunt are set in stone. Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to watch the conditions and use them as a reference when choosing a stand location, but they won’t keep me out of the woods if it’s one of the only times I can hunt.

I get a majority of my information from my trail cameras. Sometime around the second week of October I transition my trail cameras to scrapes. Once the deer start visiting the scrapes, I can identify areas of the property that are holding the bucks that I have identified as shooters. Then, once the activity starts getting closer to daylight, I make my move. Now it’s not saying that if a high pressure front comes through and I have a particular buck visiting a trail camera 2 hours past dark, I might set up a stand in that area to see if that high pressure might get him on his feet earlier than normal. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you won’t find me sitting on my couch if the pressure is low.


High pressure can get the deer on their feet, but dose it effect you if you are on the assembly line?

High pressure can get the deer on their feet, but dose it effect you if you are on the assembly line?


They say that “knowledge is power”, and I agree. But, there are times I find myself over-analyzing the conditions and questioning my gut. I feel like I’m trying to solve a complex equation instead of just hunting. Whether I’m after a doe in the early season or a buck in November, does the moon phase really matter if I’m going to be in the tree stand anyway? I understand that we all want as much of an advantage as we can get, but as the old saying goes “You can’t kill a deer if you’re not in the woods.”  But, I’m not going to be stupid. If it’s 90 and the wind is wrong I’m going going to jump in my favorite stand. The only conditions I consider are temperature and wind direction (the rut is an exception). If a high pressure front or a beneficial moon phase happens while I’m in the tree… lucky me.

The last couple seasons I found myself becoming frustrated like there was some sort of additional pressure in choosing the perfect tree stand for that particular hunt. I found that if I went with my gut I would not only not have that added pressure, I would see better results from the stand.

In conclusion, it’s beneficial to you to study and understand the causes of deer movement, it makes you a better hunter. But we don’t hunt for a living, so don’t let it effect your already limited tree stand time.

I would love to hear you thoughts, please comment below.

As always, thanks for reading,
Dan Johnson (DFW)


14 Responses to “Don’t Over-think”

  1. Tom Waters August 6, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    I believe the variables are available time to hunt and access. In the case of the pro hunters or those unencumbered by jobs/other obligations, limiting your time in particular areas to the optimum conditions will increase your productivity. For those of us with limited access of ground, time or any combination there is a definitive ratio of diminishing return on that conservative of an approach.

    • Dan Johnson August 7, 2015 at 11:18 am #

      Thanks for responding, Tom. Good luck this season!

  2. Bryan August 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm #


    I like the question/dilemma that you pose in your article as I can very much relate, so let me break down my thoughts. I have two different thoughts after reading this article and listening to you talk with Mark on the podcast. One is regarding the conditions while you hunt and the seconds relates to you as a hunter, so let me beak it down.

    First, lets talk conditions. Like many of the articles that I’m sure you have read along with several people that you have had on the podcast I would bet that you are finding the conditions you listed above have at least some effect on deer movement. Like you I have read many of the same articles and listened to many of the same “experts”, and why shouldn’t we most of these people spend far more time in the field than we do. I tend to agree with most of the information out there on what causes increased or decreased deer movement and I try to use it to my best advantage. Now I would agree with you that you can’t kill one if your not in the woods, thats a fact. On the flip side I am a firm believer that your fist time in a stand is more often than not your best chance at success. So I have adopted the philosophy of hunt smarter not harder, let me give an example. If it looks like the day will be one when deer movement will be good I will hunt. If it looks like a day that will have poor deer movement then I might use this time to scout a new piece of property or try to gain permission to a new area. Doing this I keep my best spots lower pressure and continually find new locations to hunt. This might mean less days in the tree, but I have found that my days in the tree tend to be much more productive.

    Now for what I think I am hearing you say in this article along with comments you have made on the podcast. I get the feeling that trying to pick the “right” conditions as well as shoot the “right” deer has taken some of the fun out of hunting for you. I might be totally wrong, but I definitely went through this myself a few years ago. I let the expectations of others influence my hunting and it was one of the least fulfilling seasons I’ve had in some time. Sometimes you just need to put the fun back in your hunting and do what makes you happy.

    Ok off my soap box. Keep up the great work on blog and podcast, always looking forward to whats next.

    • Dan Johnson August 7, 2015 at 11:25 am #


      Thanks for responding. I agree with almost everything you said… and you’re right the last couple seasons were a bit frustrating but still fun. It may sound crazy, but I like a little pressure when chasing a specific buck. However, this year I will shoot first 4 year old within shooting range. I like to hunt, so if the conditions are less than perfect I’ll go hunt does. Good luck this season, keep me posted!

  3. Ross August 6, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    I completely agree with you Dan. If you have limited time to hunt, hunt when you can but hunt smart. You can’t kill them by sitting on the couch waiting for the perfect conditions. You got to get out there and put in your time when you can. Keep up the good work!

  4. wes August 7, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    I agree with following your gut and really only focusing on wind direction. Generally, here in PA, we don’t get hammered by 90 degree days in October when the season is starting. My hunt/don’t hunt checklist is pretty basic like yours. Will my girlfriend allow me to hunt, what stand on the properties I have access to on those days allows me to hunt the wind best and have I over hunted that stand recently? Beyond that I’m happy to just get in a tree somewhere away from the cell phone, away from the yard work, away from Dora the Explorer and Paw Patrol repeats, away from holiday planning and to be completely left alone back where I belong… back to being a man for a few hours.

    Happy Hunting Dan and good luck to you awesome dudes in Idaho! Eagerly anticipating details from the trip!

    • Dan Johnson August 7, 2015 at 11:29 am #

      “away from Dora the Explorer and Paw Patrol repeats” – I think we have the same life. Good luck to you as well, keep me posted on your season!

  5. Rich DeGonza August 8, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    I agree with you thoughts Dan. With the limited amount of time that we all have do to other responsibilities, you have to just go for it but be smart about it. If it isn’t the “ideal” conditions, then I change to a management style hunting by targeting does. Sometimes I wonder if I over think it and to just get back to what I enjoy, which is hunting. Good luck this season and I can’t wait to see how it turns out for you. Thank you

    • Dan Johnson August 10, 2015 at 11:28 am #

      Good luck to you, Rich. Keep me posted on your success.

  6. Todd Monge August 9, 2015 at 3:01 pm #


    Far too often we do try to overthink our options. Although I own my own business and have more flexibility than most, 5 hour drives to my land just don’t happen without a little planning. I hunt weekends in September and October, take a long 5 day weekend around Halloween and then about 10 days in November so I have to hunt in whatever conditions are dealt. If it rains, snows, windy or hot I will be in the tree during those times, although like you I won’t compromise a stand based on wind direction.

    I think you are spot on when it comes to going with your gut. In years past I spent way to much time trying to figure out the perfect scenario, only to watch a giant buck chase a doe all around the other side of the farm where my gut had told me to go and I let my “logic” over rule. We can try and narrow our odds, but deer have no rhyme or reason to what they do. Pick the best area based on time of year, wind, and terrain and see what happens is my new motto.

    I can’t count how many times the farmer that runs our ground has seen a giant buck randomly in the corn while combining or standing in the road as he hauls a load to town, always in a place you wouldn’t put on your top 10 list of spots to hunt. Maybe big bucks can reason more than we give them credit for…

    Good luck this year, I can’t wait to see who wins the trail camera contest.

    • Dan Johnson August 10, 2015 at 11:26 am #

      Todd, thanks for posting! Maybe we’re not meant to understand… Good luck to you as well!

  7. Joe E. August 10, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    I would say the best way to look at hunting conditions in the common situation of having fixed hunting times is not the question of if you should hunt or not, rather the question of how you should hunt. It sounds like you do some of that already but you are also correct that a bad outcome is to get sucked into the vortex unable to make a decision. Also I think most experienced hunters agree that weather factors have greater influence than moon conditions…so if you know your weakness is over-analyzing things, def. don’t look up!

    I bet you consider weather more than you realize. 75 degrees and peak rut? Hunt water, shaded bottoms, cooler north slopes. 10 degrees? Food, food food. Cold 40 mph wind? Hunt sheltered areas. Big front moving in/out (which coincides with the barometric pressure falling/rising)? Key in on major food. A lot of that can be instinctive, you are right the challenge is not to muck it up by creating some complicated decision matrix.

    • Dan Johnson August 10, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

      Joe, thanks for reading and commenting!

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