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exbiologist's picture
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Just thought I'd share this

As most of you know, I'm kind of a data freak, so while a buddy and I were still wrestling with exactly which unit to hunt this year (our 1st season tags are good for more than one unit), I decided to do some historical weather data analysis to help explain the variabilities of success. Some of it is kind of obvious, but it's nice to have data to back up your statements.
Weather Underground has some really good historical data, including day to day looks at the weather for as far back as you can go, but I just took the last 10 years because that's all I have for success rates. I looked at the periods between September 19 and October 18, because twice in the last 10 years 1st season ended on the 18th and I figured Sept 19 would give me a full month out from the end of the season.
Variables I put into a regression analysis to correlate with success:
Temperature: Average low prior to opener, minimum low prior to opener, Sept 19-30 low, average low 7/5/3/1 day prior to opener, low temp on the opener plus days 2 and 3, days below 32 (at the airport where the data is recorded) prior to opener, and the season average low temp.
Precipitation: Total precip prior to opener, max precip event prior to opener, September total preicipitation, precip 7/5/3/1 day prior to the opener, precip on the opener plus day 2 and the total between those two days, season total precip and number of days of precipitation before the opener.
I also looked at how hunter numbers and the date of opening affected success.

Basically, none of the analyses returned anything significant, but there were some very weak correlations. Sort of significant is the lack of anything solid to hang your hat on regarding weather.

The closest I could come was (and if you know anything about stats, the closest I could come were r-values around .2 and F-stats around 1) with these variables in descending order of significance:
Season average minimum temp
Precipitation 1 day prior to opener
Opening date
Average Low prior to opener

Everything else had an r-value below .1. So in reality, the most significant conclusion I could make was weather has very little do with success over the whole unit. Common sense and conventional wisdom say otherwise, so I'm still just as confused as when I started. I guess I can't account for human dimensions such as people not being able to reach their spot due to weather, or hunters hunting somewhere else trying to anticipate the weather or things of that nature.

hawkeye270's picture
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Just thought I'd share this

I took biostats last semester and got an A but you are bringing up some suppressed nightmares that I hoped I had gotten rid of. Cool idea.

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Just thought I'd share this

i just stick my head out the front door and look south, that is the only reliable way for me Thumbs up

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Just thought I'd share this

The weather underground? Is'nt that Chairman Obama's buddy's terrorist group? Hahahah!

exbiologist's picture
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Re: Just thought I'd share this

Just bumping this up while I was reviewing some things regarding success rates and what affects them on a unit wide basis.

Critter's picture
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Re: Just thought I'd share this

You are getting into an area that is very hard to predict, and I have found that there is no way to try to predict weather. The last couple of years I have hunted an area in Utah in witch if there are some early storms the end of September or the first of October the hunting can be fabulous if not go elsewhere. It is a lot like predicting when the rut will start. In 2004 my brother in law had a limited entry deer tag for the Book Cliffs in Utah. We had hunted the area quite a lot in the 70's and 80's so we didn't think that we would have any problems. Opening day came and we only saw 4 deer. On our way back to camp we saw a DOW officer who told us that the deer had moved off the top of the hill and could be found 12 miles to the north, and that is right where they were along with being in full rut on the 18 of October. I hadn't seen that happen in over 30 years of hunting. The other problem is in that when you have to put in for a draw permit in March you have to hope and pray for the right weather in October or November.
All hunter can hope for is just work with what happens when he heads for the field.

exbiologist's picture
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Re: Just thought I'd share this

Exactly... You can't predict what the weather will do, and what effect that whatever weather may have. HOWEVER, you can find areas that are affected greatly by the weather and avoid them if you are comparing to otherwise similar units. I do this with the average deviation of success. Here's an example I just sent out to my customers a few minutes ago:
....in Colorado, where there is 4 rifle seasons (but this applies to other states like Arizona and New Mexico, and to lesser degree states with a single long rifle season), one can examine how success changes over time. At the statewide level, Colorado’s rifle seasons during the 2008 season (but this pattern applies to most warm years) went from averaging 31% in 1st season, plummeting to 16% in second season, to a low of 14% in 3rd season, then back up to 18% in 4th season. Deer are the opposite, with success increasing over the seasons. This is at the statewide level (not just the 105 units we track, and is for either sex), and is typical of the past 5 years, but at the unit level, some places buck that trend. Here’s where you’ll want to know how put information to good use. When selecting a unit to hunt, it is also important to know when to hunt that unit. We’ve made it easy for you to examine how success in that unit changes over the 4 rifle season (but also archery and muzzleloader, though that is comparing apples to oranges).
The other stat that we offer, which is frequently disregarded is the average deviation of success. This statistic helps to expose those areas where weather likely plays a major role in some aspect of huntability. It’s very difficult to make a broad generalization as to what is being affected, but since elk populations are relatively static (deer populations fluctuate much more due to weather), land ownership, timber management and successional stage, roads and pressure patterns don’t change much on a year to year basis, it seems the only thing that isn’t consistent is the weather. Weather could be affecting water sources, the elevation at which game is located, the ease at which they are tracked or found by glassing, or access to the hunting grounds, but it is difficult to make a blanket statement regarding a whole state in respect to how weather changes affect huntability. Nevertheless, looking at the average deviation of success in a unit (and amongst seasons in Colorado) will show you areas which fluctuate greatly and are difficult to depend on if making plans far in advance. For instance, unit 24 in Colorado has one of the highest average deviations in the state during 4th season over the past 5 years. The average fluctuation (+ or -) from the mean was over 20 percentage points! The past 5 years either sex success was 22, 6, 27, 81 and 12%. It’s very difficult to say what about the weather conditions created that 81% year and what created the 6% year, but do you want plan your hunt for a unit where success can vary that wildly? So pay attention to this statistic. We all spend a lot of money, time and effort planning and trying to put odds in our favor and control what variables we can. But the weather is way beyond our control and we can’t always know what effect it will have on our elk or deer hunt. If you can be flexible and well equipped, a unit with a high average deviation may not be so bad for you. But for most hunters, it is wisest to hunt somewhere more reliable.

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Re: Just thought I'd share this

It would be interesting to know if there was a correlation between moon phase and hunter success. Or moon phase + clear skies (high barometric pressure) and hunter success.

exbiologist's picture
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Re: Just thought I'd share this

Clemson University did conduct a study on that several years ago. I don't remember the results off hand, but I bet you could do a Google Scholar search for it.

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