If you are hunting in North or South Carolina or Georgia right now, Florence is going to wreck your plans for at least a week and probably longer. For many of you, access to your hunting land will be flooded and blocked. Tower stands could be blown away or damaged.
How will this massive wind and rain event affect the whitetail deer themselves? In 2 words: not much.
Many studies over the decades have shown that rising floodwaters of rivers and creeks won’t kill many if any adult deer, though it will displace the animals for days and weeks as they flee to higher and drier ground. But the deer will eventually filter back into their home habitats and core areas once the waters recede.
There is recent research to support this. A year ago, on September 10, 2017, the eye of Hurricane Irma, packing 135 mph winds and dropping 12 inches of rain, passed within 13 miles of a whitetail study area in southwest Florida monitored by researchers from Virginia Tech. Of the 60 deer that had been fitted with GPS collars in the study area, not one died during the hurricane.
The researchers did find that collared does significantly increased their movements the day of the storm. Bucks moved a little less compared to the week before. All deer selected areas with higher elevations where flooding was less likely.
Bottom line: While Hurricane Florence is not likely to kill many deer, it will certainly displace them for weeks. When things dry out and get back to semi-normal in a month or so, the hunting will be a little unpredictable as deer come and go back to their home ranges. But the bucks will be back, so hang tough.
To all in the path of Florence, good luck and be safe.