Wind direction is an extremely important concept when it comes to hunting whitetails. This doesn’t just stop at whitetails. Many big game animals live and die by their nose. Playing the wind is something that all deer hunters should know.
In today’s technology age, even the best technology can’t always fool a whitetails nose. There are cover sprays, scent lock suits, Ozonics devices, and all other kind of gadgets to try and mask or cover human scent. Some work some don’t.
The best way to beat a whitetails nose is to be downwind from them. Having the wind moving from them to you so they don’t get a whiff of your scent.
I’ve had deer coming in completely oblivious to the fact that I was there and the wind suddenly switched directions and just like that they wheeled and were gone. Only takes that one split-second for the wind to change to cause havoc with your hunting success.
Knowing the wind direction is key. In my opinion it is the most important thing that a hunter can do. All the fancy clothing and upgrades to your gun, bow, or crossbow is going to be worthless if you get sniffed. I’ve seen tons of pictures over the years of long gone relatives that used to hunt in their red checkered flannel shirts and blue jeans.
They were successful even though they didn’t have all the technology of today. They learned to play the win in their favor. This is one of the primary reasons that I hunt using a climbing tree stand. It allows me to move around fairly easily to play the wind direction in my favor.
In the example you can see that the optimal stand location is downwind of where the hunter expects the deer to be traveling. Is this an exact science, NO. Deer can be patterned but have the bad habit of showing up in unexpected places. Trails are just that a path that the deer will follow a lot of the time but they will also just travel in whatever direction that they are going to.
Scent and Scent Control
Deer have a phenomenal nose. It is better and trusted more than their eyesight. Minimizing human scent is a concept that has made a huge impact in hunting. Many companies have come up with strays, deodorant, washing machine detergent, etc. All claiming to be able to eliminate human scent.
Some work some don’t. The best practice is to not give the animal a scent to smell. Cover scents can help with this endevour but not one I trust. A deer’s nose is hard to fool. In my experiences being downwind is the best option. I do try and eliminate as much human scent as I can but don’t go out of my way to spend sometime thousands of dollars on the latest gimmicks. I make sure that I shower and use a scent free soap. Human scent is something that a deer associates with danger.
Eliminating as much scent as possible will increase the odds for success. Playing the wind has always been successful for me. Scent control is one of the most important tactics a successful hunter can employ. You can hunt without the latest hunting cloths, or latest hunting weapon but you won’t be as successful as possible without knowing about scent control and tactics that go with it.
Thermals are another area that I pay attention to. In the morning as the air at the ground is warming, air columns will be moving up from the ground into the atmosphere. In the evening the opposite is true. By knowing this, it will change my hunting tactics especially when hunting around hills.
In the evening when the thermals are moving back towards the earth, it will pull scent downhill with it. By knowing this I can change my hunting strategy to match what is going to happen later on in the evening. Same holds true in the morning when I am hunting on the sides of the hills.
In the morning I hunt higher up on the hillside, in the evening I move to hill bottoms. Knowing what is going to happen will help you make better decisions of where to hunt.
Be mindful of predominate wind directions when setting up semi/permanent stands. Hunting a stand when the wind is wrong is a surefire way to hurt that stand location. Deer can only bust you so many times before they will either come in on high alert every time or avoid the area all together.
I personally will pass on a stand location even if it has produced over and over again if the wind is not right. I’d rather leave it for another day. I set up several stands locations that will handle different wind directions so that I’ll always have a stand to hunt. Since I started to follow this tactic, my success rate has gone way up.
I am always mindful of the wind direction and check it often. Even when I am on the stand I keep an eye on the wind. I’d rather be caught moving from one stand to another than be busted in a stand with the wrong wind.
Wrapping it up
Playing close attention to the wind direction can help with your success. I’ve watched many deer over the years and have learned many things about them. Their nose is king over all the other senses. A deer’s nose is an extremely sensitive instrument which can pick up minute particles of human and other scents. Paying attention to wind directions will help give the hunter an advantage over the deer.
Deer can pop up anywhere. They tend to travel following trails but not always. Controlling human scent is something that every hunter should be conscientious of. Thermals are also something to be mindful of. Once I started to keep an eye on what the wind direction was and what I found it was going to do with the thermals, my success rate went way up.
I look forward to your questions or comments below.