October 27, 2023
I have a fascination with the white-tailed deer. While my archery whitetail pursuits occur from September through December, I spend the other six months of the year learning about and preparing for those four months.
I've learned a lot over the years and have had some success. Years ago, I discovered something magical about a rising barometer, especially one that climbs above 30.00". I love a rising moon that becomes visible around 5 p.m., an arriving cold front and the backside of that cold front.
Another environmental factor I've learned much about and base many of my whitetail plans around is the wind. Yes, you read that right, and I'm not just writing about planning what stand works best with what wind. Wind affects whitetail movement, and it can significantly help the bowhunter. Here are some things to remember concerning the wind and whitetails.
When The Wind Switches, Go Hunt!
Like most hunters, I have a love/hate relationship with the wind. I love it when the wind is in my face, blowing in the just-right direction, carries a chill, and is steady around 12 miles per hour. I'm not too fond of it when it's hot, muggy, and the wind blows so hard it's bending my tree in half or when it's swirly.
I have seen increased whitetail movement, especially buck movement, when the wind changes direction after blowing out of one direction for several days.
Here's an example.
It was November 1, and the wind blew steadily out of the West for the first four days of my Nebraska deer hunt. On day five, an East wind hit. Though temperatures were comparable to the first four days, I hoped the new wind direction would work in my favor.
An hour into my hunt the following afternoon, I shot a 148-inch Nebraska brute.
The only significant change was a new wind. Bucks could travel in the same direction for the past four days, and scent check bedding areas. On this day, the switching wind direction made bucks travel in a different direction, and often, that's all the change a bowhunter needs to get a gagger close.
Like an approaching front, bucks can feel a wind change coming. When they do, they know where to travel to put their sniffer to work. They also know they want to be the first buck to check a bedding area on a new wind. After several days of consistent wind from any direction, a wind change will spark buck movement.
Ten to Twenty Is A Win
When I go crappie fishing in the spring, I want the water to be glass. I'm not too fond of any wind over five miles per hour. When deer hunting, though, I pray for steady winds between 10 and 20 miles per hour.
First, a stiff wind keeps the wind blowing in a consistent direction. Few things will foil a hunt faster than a wind constantly shifting this way and that.
Second, calmer days produce swirling winds, leading bowhunters to get busted by the olfactory system of a buck or doe.
Third, I have been busted in a treestand more times than I care to admit on calm days. When the wind blows, branches, bushes, etc., are moving around. When things are dead quiet, it's easier for a bowhunter to get spotted in a treestand.
Fourth, I've had deer — one would have been my biggest Oklahoma buck to date — jump and run because the woods were so calm they could hear me draw my bow.
Fifth, I love to go into a new area on a windy day and do a hang and hunt. The wind muffles my noise and allows me to slip close to a bedding area and set up in a tree without tipping my hand to napping deer.
I'll Take Thirty!
Some reading this may call me crazy; I am a little, so keep that in mind. The fact is the Colorado plains can produce heavy winds.
Last season, on October 23, the weatherman called for steady 30-mile-per-hour winds from the Northwest. This is the best possible wind direction from my favorite Colorado whitetail stand, so I was in my set before the sun crawled above the Eastern horizon.
The wind was brutal. Several times, it felt like I was on a rollercoaster. Still, I learned some precious whitetail information.
I learned that deer move in extreme wind, especially a wind that brings a heavy chill. I also discovered that deer have difficulty detecting your human stink when the wind is bucking if you take proper scent-control precautions.
On this particular day, four deer walked directly into my wind over five hours. Usually, I have an Ozonics unit running, but I'd made a bonehead move on this day and left it charging at home.
Aside from not having my Ozonics unit, I followed my usual Wildlife Research Center shower, clothing ozone zap, and dressed in the field. Still, I've done this on days with a lesser wind, forgot my Ozonics, and got busted. On this day and other days like it, the wind is taking my scent so fast that the deer can't quite pick it up.
I've taken some excellent whitetails from the ground spot-and-stalk. I'm not referring to stalking with a decoy on my bow. I mean a straight slip up on em' and ambush em' in their bed mission.
All those successful hunts had one thing in common: The wind blew hard. A stiff wind muffles your noise and disguises your approach.
During the lockdown phase of the rut, especially when hunting more open terrain, I can find a vantage point on windy days and try to find a buck tending a doe or pushing one toward a secluded area. Once my binos glass up the scenario I'm looking for, I put my face into the wind and slip bowhunting close.
The wind gets a bad wrap, and I get it. Other than walleye fishing, blowing dirt, exposing ancient arrowheads, and improving whitetail hunting, it isn't good for much. However, anytime whitetail deer are on the menu from September through December, you can use the wind to your advantage to improve your chances of a big buck encounter.