Every hunter wants to know deer movement patterns. And most hunters have a good idea of when deer move.
However, fog presents a challenge to understanding deer movements. For a quick answer, deer move in light fog, and not so much in heavy fog.
How Thick is the Fog?
No matter what species of deer you’re hunting, nearly all of them will only move if they feel it’s safe. Really, this is often at the heart of the debate over whether or not deer move in the fog.
Do deer feel safer under the cover of fog or do they choose to take cover instead because they feel unsafe? Heavy fog means that it can be harder for predators to see them, but they also cannot see any danger that is lurking.
Among experienced hunters, there is generally a belief that deer are more active in light fog, but they tend to quiet down as the fog grows thicker.
To settle the question more definitively, however, a number of hunters set up trail cams and recorded the movement of deer in relation to the foggy conditions.
The results showed that deer tend to move a lot more in light and medium fog conditions than in sunny ones.
Once the fog becomes so thick that it becomes difficult to see more than about five feet in front of a hunter, however, deer seem to move less.
Of course, there are a few small problems with this method of looking at the data.
The first obvious question is how can trail cam footage be an accurate way of determining the movement of deer if the fog is so thick that their movement cannot be picked up by the cameras?
On the other hand, if the deer are impossible to see, does it make any sense to be out trying to hunt them?
The fact that deer are more active in light and medium fog conditions, though, is a valuable piece of information.
Of course, there are a few other things that will affect the movement of deer in foggy conditions, which can greatly affect the success of your hunt. But the bigger question is, why does fog make deer more active?
The Time of Day
Everyone knows that deer are most active in the early morning hours. Light and medium fog will block the sun for a while, essentially creating the illusion of dawn for the deer.
Under the belief that they still have the protection that the early morning level of light provides them, it’s much more likely that deer will become more active.
When the fog becomes thicker, it is likely that more light is blocked, and the deer believe (or at least behave as if) it’s night. Because night is a time of the day when deer become a lot less active, they naturally react to thick fog by laying down.
There is a lot of debate on how much temperature affects the movement of deer.
While just about everyone knows that deer tend to be more active when it’s cold outside and less active when it’s warm, it can be a bit confusing for deer to determine temperature when there’s a lot of fog.
Of course, if the temperature is extremely cold, deer tend to become much less active.
In general, fog tends to have little effect on actual temperature, but it does have a pretty big effect on the perceived temperature.
Foggy conditions can greatly increase humidity, making it feel much warmer or colder than the actual temperature.
Fog that has formed over a frozen body of water is often colder than the ambient temperature. On the other hand, fog that has formed from a warmer cloud layer will increase the local temperature.
If the fog can raise or lower the temperature to a point that the deer are most comfortable, then it can greatly increase the movement of deer, even if they do not necessarily feel safe due to decreased or increased visibility.
There is actually quite some debate as to whether it’s actually the temperature change rather than the fog itself that stimulates the deer to move more or less.
While it is hard to know exactly why fog can get deer to move, it is important to realize that the way it effects the ambient temperature can change the level and direction of movement.
If fog is making temperatures in an area too cold or too warm, it is very possible that deer will walk to an area where the temperature conditions are more favorable. This is important to think about when setting up a stand.
Wind Speed and Direction
Finally, it’s probably worth a bit of time to consider how fog affects wind speed and direction. Of course, fog doesn’t directly affect wind speed, but it does affect the way smells and sounds travel through the air.
Fog makes the surrounding air thicker, making it less likely that smells will travel as far as they do in “normal” conditions.
This can be an advantage to a hunter, as the deer will become less able to detect you in heavier fog. In fact, some hunters believe that this is why people believe that fog causes deer to move more.
They theorize that the deer don’t actually move more, they simply make the “mistake” of walking closer to stands.
This means that hunters perceive them as moving around more when it’s entirely possible that they simply are more confused by the fog.
Deer hunters have debated for years on whether or not fog creates more favorable hunting conditions.
While rudimentary data collected from trail cams seems to indicate that light fog will encourage deer to move around more, this data might not be the most accurate way to gauge deer movement in a variety of weather conditions.
Nonetheless, there are some definite advantages to hunting in light fog.