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Author Topic: Wind direction and whitetails  (Read 1202 times)

Online jonsimoneau

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Wind direction and whitetails
« on: August 01, 2008, 03:52:00 PM »
For the past few years or so I have recorded wind directions as they coincide with big buck sightings.  
I must admit that trying to find out how to set your stands according to wind direction is not as easy as it seems.  For example, I have seen alot of big bucks moving directly downwind.  They do it all the time.  
When a buck is going to enter an open field to feed, many people say that he will want to approach the field with the wind in his face.  Yet all the time I see bucks in fields where they would have entered with the wind at their backs.  I shot my biggest buck as he was quartering downwind.  How do you guys set your stands?  This year I will be experimenting with setting my stands so that bucks can quarter into the wind to get to me.  Basically, for October, I have stands 100 yards or less from buck bedding areas, and will hunt those stands when the wind allows a buck to quarter into the wind while making his way to a food source.  


Wind is a frustrating thing to figure out.  What do you guys think about how whitetails use wind? Maybe a little insight from Uncle Barry?

Offline 2Blade

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2008, 04:08:00 PM »
My guess for the reason the buck had the wind to his back is because he could see any danger in front of him and he was using the wind behind to cover his back trail.

As far as deer using wind I think it varys for deer I think older bucks along with wind use other deer to their advantage to check for danger. A good example I heard was a buck bedded on a cliff with the cliff behind him because nothing approach from behind and he had the wind in his face and he could see both sides. Even more interesting is the buck walked past a snow patch and went on bare ground to NOT leave a backtrail.
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Offline StickBowManMI

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2008, 04:19:00 PM »
I have seen the same thing. Bucks traveling with the wind at their backs and using their eyes to detect danger in front of them.

Offline woodslinger

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2008, 04:32:00 PM »
Don't overthink this. The minute we start to think deer always do this or always do that, is when we get into trouble. In my opinion you should place your stands so that on your approach your scent isn't being blown to where you think they are or where you think they are coming from. Put up a couple stands to cover different appraoch scenerios and then play the odds.
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Online Orion

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2008, 06:28:00 PM »
I agree with woodslinger.  I've seen bigger bucks, and other deer, too, for that matter, move every direction possible re the wind.  However, since the wolf population has exploded in northern Wisconsin, I find the deer  quartering with the wind a lot more(so they can smell the wolves coming in from behind), and just generally a lot more cautious.

Online KSdan

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2008, 11:37:00 PM »
Get a portable set up and don't set stand until the moment you hunt.  That helps me.  

As far as big bucks and quartering wind. . . I see it all the time when they are using the wind to scent check an area.  Ex.  A SW breeze while the deer walks directly north following the slight ridge 100 yds back off the field edge. The field is to the west.  He also is able to cut across all the feeder trails going into the field this way.  He scent checks the entire field without entering it.

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Offline Don Stokes

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2008, 08:31:00 AM »
I've given up on trying to guess how wind affects deer movements, mainly because experience has proven my guesses to be wrong at least as often as they're right. If I know deer are coming to a particular food source from a particular bedding area, I set my stand to be downwind of the path. Any further analysis has just been an exercise in frustration for me. Deer do what deer want to do, no matter what I think about it!

My ladder stands are located on my property to take advantage of different conditions, and I choose my hunting spot for the day based on wind direction, to keep my scent from blowing toward the area I'm watching hardest.
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Offline Yohon

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2008, 08:32:00 AM »
Good thread. My findings are alot like yours Jon and I think back to something Gene said that seems to be the simple explanation..."all deer pay attention to the wind, very few get old enough to learn to use the wind to their advantage"
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Offline dan ferguson

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2008, 09:32:00 AM »
Jon, I hunt the high plains and some rough canyons here in Nebraska, and most of my hunting is for Mulies, If a Buck reaches maturity he is a hard one to get close to. Most of these Bucks use the wind to cover there backside and there eyes to cover in frount. It still amazes on how well they pick there Bedding areas. Almost impossible to get up on them. I also call alot of varmits and most of the old dogs will circle, with this in mind, mulies will also come into a call, and a big buck will circle also, especially if there vision is limited.

Offline rg176bnc

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2008, 10:11:00 AM »
They will almost always bed w/ thier back to the wind.  Unless they are the baddest deer in the area they will often circle when coming to a call or rattling.  Other than that your giving them too much credit.  

Regardless of popular opinion big bucks are reluctant to give up on thier bedding area if it offers good escape routes and leaving undetected. Even when being disturbed their more than once. Thats why he was their to begin with.  

As for scent checking a field from the woods I think its more that thier checking every trail coming out of the field.  Good luck.

Online KSdan

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2008, 11:39:00 AM »
Sorry Robert- I have to disagree with you on this one. This is one of our KEY strategies for encountering mature bucks.  They do this regularly during the rut- whether it be a field OR bedding area.  They simply can cruise an entire area with little movement and loss of energy.  I am talking mature deer here-a completely different animal than the rest.  They don't run around aimlessly like younger bucks.

A lot of our scouting is done via maps with this known reality. Last year I had one young guy here where we studied the maps the night before the hunt.  We sent him into an area that had not been hunted by us all season.  We picked the spot via maps and weather reports knowing what the mature bucks would try to accomplish.  He was portable and slipped in from the right area and set-up at day break.  He was not in the stand minutes when the bruiser came cruising.  Happens quite often. . .  no need to scout much during the season.  Know the areas, watch what the wind is doing, and know that mature bucks will be checking areas.  

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Offline rg176bnc

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2008, 01:31:00 PM »
I agree big deer use thier nose alot more than younger deer, but to say thier movements are dictated by the wind isn't correct.  Were talking about animals that don't have the capacity to cross the road w/o getting wacked lol.  If that was the case all the Ks deer would be in Tx by August  :)  When a deer gets in his mind he's going somewhere he's gonna go.

That being said the 1st trail parralling a food plot or bedding area is usually the best for a buck checking those areas.  I think we agree in principal anyway.

Offline Earl E. Nov...mber

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2008, 03:38:00 PM »
Several years ago I read one writer's opinion on Whitetail deer behaviors and hunting tactics. He said'"The best axiom on deer hunting is only correct 60% of the time, and that includes this one.."

We all know their primary defense and survival tool is their nose.. That does not mean their other senses are lacking or not employed. Obviously they can't always move into the wind, but given the choice they will favor the wind and their nose over other senses for security, feeding and socializing.

When you have a bucks primary bed and travel nailed down, probably the best winds is a quartering wind. The closer that quartering wind is to putting him down wind, but not, the better the wind is.. Just hope that it stays constant and doesn't shift.

Remember too the terrain and the cover can change the air flow patterns quite drastically from the obvious wind direction. Often what we feel is a good wind actually works against us.. Especially in areas where heavy cover meet sparse cover. (Timber adjacent to beans or alfalfa, etc) Or breaks in heavy cover like stream channels and clearings.

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Online kennym

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2008, 04:13:00 PM »
Earl E.'s last paragraph should be read twice,no,maybe 3 times!!
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Online Barry Wensel

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2008, 04:52:00 PM »
Let me say I'm pleased to read some of your inputs on this thread. It shows you guys are thinking instead of just banking on luck as lots of hunters do. This is one of the subjects I used to touch on when I did my whitetail bootcamps. It's too detailed to get into here since there are so many variables to deal with. In a very basic scenario, if you have a typical situation of farm land/timber, the cultivated crops tend to be in the lower lands because of: sedimentation rates, better soils, easy of access by the farmers, better moisture, etc. The deer like to bed on the timbered ridges above the field for security reasons, less disturbances, favorable winds, etc. Warm air rises, cool air settles. They'll tend to bed high and feed low. The daily warm thermals will rise uphill from the activity below. As I said, you have many variables such as hunting pressures, deer densities, buck/doe ratios, the time of the year, foliage, crops, wind velocities, and the age structure of the deer to contend with. Normally in the late afternoon the main herd consisting of the does, fawns and small younger bucks will get up from their beds and slowly descend down the hill with the winds in their faces. The bigger, mature bucks will generally wait until dethermalization when the air cools and starts to go down the hill. Then he will get up from his bed and slowly descend with the wind at his back. Think about the logic of this. He has the majority of the herd already out in the field below acting like decoys, plus the wind at his back now covering his backtrail. If you get busted by one fawn you won't even know the big guy was around. This is the main reason the biggest bucks are usually the last ones to step out. The exact reverse is true in the mornings. The big, mature bucks are first to leave the field (sometimes before light) with the cool air still descending the hill in their faces and the rest of the herd covering their backs. This is something mature bucks learn with age, similar with what John quoted Gene as saying above. So you ask, how do you set up on a situation like this? The answer is to only use a quartering wind to your advantage. Again, there are variables but as an example, if you are setting up right along the edge of the field and the wind is going right down the hill into the food source, the feeding deer will bust you. If the wind is going into the timber and up the mountain the descending deer will bust you. Therefore, you try to set up on a quartering wind where neither the descending deer nor the feeding deer get downwind of you. A lot of times you have to read minor terrain structures to determine your best exact location. And most importantly, only hunt the set up under consistant winds in an ideal situation. As I mentioned, there are other factors but this is pretty much the theory in a nutshell. Gotta run. Best of luck to all this season. Uncle Barry

Offline **DONOTDELETE**

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2008, 05:12:00 PM »
I have seen them move more with the wind at their backs. This is why you should have the wind in your face.

Offline Earl E. Nov...mber

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2008, 09:47:00 PM »
Barry, Thanks for your insight,, always a great pleasure to see the Masters wade in.. Only problem I have with your synopsis, is waiting for a steady wind.. Around here I might as well not get a tag. The wind is typically "light to variable" or 30 MPH.  :bigsmyl:
Thanks again.
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Offline Whip

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2008, 10:24:00 PM »
Great thread!  Paying attention to the wind is certainly critical in hunting whitetails, just as it is with many other animals. Like Earl E. said, terrain and cover can change wind action dramatically, often within a very short distance.  Moving a stand thirty yards sometimes can result in a different wind direction.  I've read the analogy many times, but I think it is a good one - wind moves across the landscape like water flows in a stream.  There are edies and pockets where it can go a completely different direction.  
To me, one of the most difficult parts of playing the wind is accounting for the inevitible changes in direction that occur constantly.  If the wind temporarily dies down, sometimes it will completely change direction for a time.  No matter which side of the campfire you sit on, it seems you eventually will have it blow in your face, at least for a moment.
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Online Barry Wensel

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2008, 10:36:00 PM »
Yeah, I've often said I really like to hunt a wind that's "almost" wrong. If you can depend on it's direction for some consistency (because of terrain structures) it'll give the deer a false sense of security where they'll move past you thinking they have a safe head-wind. bw

Offline Whump

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Re: Wind direction and whitetails
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2008, 10:42:00 PM »
Whump Sez; I call some during the rut and I have always had mature deer come in to the call down wind. You can up your chances for success by not calling unless their is a high pressure system in your area. This type of system will carry your scent almost straight up and will help you get a shot within 20 yds. A good indicator for your hunting system is floss fly tying thread hanging from your bow----split it in half of its original size and a high pressure system will make it curl up like a fish hook showing you that you have a rising air current. It requires no movement to check and has served me well. The best way to screw up your chances for that buck of a lifetime  you are hunting is to call him up on a low pressure system or steady wind and get busted as he comes in to the call.  Hunt safe.

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