Deer hunting in hot weather stinks. Literally! Just sitting there in a tree stand with those pesky mosquitoes buzzing all around my eyes, nose and ears with the sweat beads rolling down the back of my shirt and beyond is not exactly my idea of whitetail hunting under ideal conditions.

And all this wouldn't be so unexpected except it was last December.

For the past several seasons, Mississippi deer hunters have had a very puzzled look on their faces trying to figure out the screwy rutting behavior bucks have been exhibiting - or more likely, have not been. Some call it a trickle rut, a drip rut, slow rut, delayed rut, no rut or whatever rut. Whichever name is applied, it seems one of the most discernable common denominators has been a series of warm-weather spells we seem to experience now virtually every deer season.

These hot runs are showing up more and more during the normal prime rutting periods of mid-December through mid-January.

"I can remember two years ago driving to my afternoon hunting stand during the December muzzleloader season when the radio announced it was 75 degrees," said Kevin Coughran of Utica. "By the time I walked the 200 yards across a picked corn field and climbed into my ladder stand, I was wringing wet. I could not imagine that any self-respecting buck would have come anywhere near my stand with all that human odor blowing around, and none did."

Quite often, these warm fronts that come in during our normal winter months can have strange effects on white-tailed deer rutting behavior. Undoubtedly the rut is going on somewhere at sometime, because does still come into estrus and are bred. For deer hunters, though, the trick is to assess the situation as weather trends change, and be prepared in advance with the most appropriate strategies and tactics.

Deer hunting in hot weather demands some special attention to detail, more hunter patience, schedule changes and, above all, perseverance.

Seasonal trends

Of course, predicting weather or daytime temperature trends with any accuracy in advance of Mississippi deer hunting seasons is about as likely as pulling a winning lottery ticket out of a wash tub. The only thing we can do is look back at what has happened in the past, knowing full well those overly warm conditions can repeat themselves again at any time.

But some generalities can be made, according to Charles Wax, the state's climatologist located at Mississippi State University.

"I looked at the central division of counties for the state, and calculated the average temperature for the period from October through January," he said. "The table I supplied shows the average temperature for the years 2000-2006. The long-term average for those periods was 57.18 degrees."

Note in the table the general overall upward trend toward warmer average temperatures during those years.

However, those average temperatures do not reveal the whole story. It is those random spikes in seasonal temperatures that have the greatest bearing on rut activity. It is also those periodic jumps in daytime temperatures that can make buck hunting so tough as the equation of warmer air equals cooler rut kicks in.

When this happens, deer hunters have to shift gears and dig deeper into their bag of tricks.

Impact on the rut

Unseasonably warm temperatures can definitely throw a monkey wrench into what hunters normally expect to see in the woods in terms of rutting behavior. Some hunters are totally convinced that the rut never even kicked in at all last year, or occurred so slowly or randomly that visual observations of rutting activity were never apparent to many hunters.

"There were many comments on the lack of a defined rut last season," said Chad Dacus, white-tailed deer program coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. "There was a rut, and does did get bred, just not during the day. Most of the chasing and rutting behavior happened at night.

"The health checks we did in the spring indicated relatively stable breeding dates when compared to past years. I have been telling people the rut happened, only it happened at night due to the warmer temperatures."

As mentioned, it is those unexpected temperature spikes that occur that can really kill an active rut. Temperatures from last season illustrate the variance from average temperatures submitted by Wax. See in the graphic the high and low temperatures for the hunting months October through January at two different sites in Mississippi.

The key to this data is the number of days during those months that temperature spikes were over 60 and 70 degrees. For example, in December eight days, or 26 percent of the month, the daytime temperatures were over 70 degrees in the Jackson area. The high that month was 75 degrees.

The rutting activity must have gone nocturnal at that point. This may account for why so many hunters last year failed to see any bucks chasing does.

It's unclear if anyone knows the science of what ambient temperature it takes to suddenly slow biological rutting behavior. However, many hunters say it's somewhere in the 60-degree range. As Dacus pointed out, the breeding is happening, just not during legal hunting hours. Somehow and in some manner, temperature impacts the rut.

Warm-weather tactics

O.K., so if we all agree that these spurts of unseasonably warm temperatures are ruining the rut, what can we do about it? Common sense should always prevail when it comes to hunting strategies and tactics, but then that has not always been the strongest suit for many deer hunters. In the case of hunting during hot weather, hunters must always be prepared to hunt with the weather, winds and temperature, not against them.

Assuming that, if common sense dictates the appropriate course of action, the first clue to hunting hot weather is to not do it. That means, of course, to pick the hunting times of the day when the air is the coolest, even if the opportunity is only for a short while. This means getting up extra early and being on the stand well before daylight or slipping in to hunt just the last hour of light at the end of the day. If the temperature gets too warm for the hunter to be comfortable, then deer movements are also likely to be at a minimum as well.

Dressing super cool is important. Today's market is filled with lightweight moisture-wicking hunting clothing. Anything you might wear to dove hunt would be good for warm-weather deer hunting.

If hunting from a covered blind, tree stand or shooting house out of open visual contact with deer, remember how they dress to hunt in Africa. Shorts and summer tropic shirts pulled out are not out of the question if concealment is a secondary concern.

Snacking light along with consuming plenty of fluids will benefit hot-weather deer hunters. Skip the bacon and eggs for a breakfast bar or cold milk and cereal. Pack plenty of water. One trick is to fill a plastic drink bottle half full with water, then freeze it lying on its side. Then crack the screw-off top, fill it up to the brim with tap water, and reseal. The half bottle of ice will keep the water cold for quite a while, and then eventually melt, adding more water. Carry one in a deer hunting daypack, and put a second in the truck for after the hunt.

Of course a big topic today in hunting hot weather is human-scent control. First and foremost, it's always wise to hunt with the wind advantage in your favor. Additionally, a lot can be done these days to diminish or eliminate human scent with a variety of scent-controlling products on the market from chemical sprays to elaborate charcoal-impregnated hunting garments.

Hunting clothes should be maintained by laundering in scent-absent washes, air dried and then sealed in scent-free bags ready for use. This includes everything you intend to wear to hunt, too. Some hunters even go so far as to not dress in their hunting garments until they reach the location of their hunt. This is not a bad idea, because many hunters simply fail to realize how external scents can easily be picked up at the gas station, convenience store or restaurant. Just one pass by a cigarette smoker can contaminate clothing enough to spook a deer from a long distance. Human body smells and other scents when heated then only multiply the scent issue.

Deer hunting in hot weather may not be the most fun thing to do for many hunters, but still the simple urge to be in the woods just in case a good buck shows is overwhelming for most. The thing to do is always monitor the weather - especially increasing temperature trends - then go prepared. Working the wind and scent control are paramount to success during hot days when the rut cools down.

Hunter comfort is important, too, so stay hydrated; take along a ThermaCell and stay alert. Deer have to move and breed at some point, and you just may catch them in the act.