Outdoors Column: Storm Brewing

The people who call themselves weather forecasters have an accuracy rating of about 50%. It is either going to snow or it isn’t. I have found a much more accurate way of forecasting. Look at the animals. Saturday we were supposed to receive a blizzard. It was raining lightly and much too warm for snow. With serious doubts about the weather people, I decided to check with the local domesticated animals and wildlife. After seeing what the animals were doing, I decided, the weather forecaster might be right this time.


My horses were grouped together facing the southwest. Since there are only two horses, it makes a small group, but they were facing the same direction and not moving. Horses and cattle will make a huddle and face away from the direction the storm will approach. I could see the cattle across the fence in the next pasture. They were doing the same thing. All were in a group with tails toward the approaching storm. They will assume this position several hours before a storm hits and will generally stay that way until the storm is over. Even if they have a barn to go into, they usually would rather ride out storms in the open.


Deer act as more long-range forecasters. A day or even two days before a major storm, deer will increase their food intake so they do not have to go out and find something to eat during a blizzard. My trail cameras have a time and date stamp on the pictures. From this, I can tell what day and what time of day the deer are moving. Checking pictures from the previous week showed a steady flow of deer moving in and out of feeding areas. On Friday, during the day, night, and up until I picked up the cameras on Saturday morning, the number of pictures of deer almost tripled. The turnip patch was especially busy as deer were digging up turnips and eating leaves, stems, and turnip one after another. One deer in particular, we call One Antler, spent a lot of time Friday and Saturday, stuffing himself, in case the storm latest for a week or two.


One Antler is a young buck that had a nice rack, for a young deer, until he got into a fight with someone much larger than himself. They apparently hit together hard enough to break the young buck’s one antler off, leaving a three to four-inch stub on one side. It makes him look a bit strange but it is easy to keep track of him in a series of pictures. Next year, he will grow two new antlers and hopefully not lose one in a fight. In the mean time, he can grow fat in the turnip patch, predicting the weather for me.