I can’t even count the number of times that I have seen people with good intentions advising a new hunter that they need to hunt the wind without every really giving them an idea of what that means or why it’s important. The reason that hunting the wind is so important is because deer use their sense of smell as their number one defense against predators. If given the choice, a deer will always walk with the wind at least slightly in their face. Deer want to avoid human contact, so if they get any whiff of you at all, they will probably choose to go another direction. The worst part is that this may be happening to you and you have no idea that deer are smelling you 200 yards away and then avoiding your location.
Hunting the Wind – The Wrong Way
If you are trying to use the wind to your advantage, the main point is to have your wind blowing in to area that you don’t think deer will be coming form or one that you think deer couldn’t possibly smell you even if they come from there. For example, having your wind blow directly in to a valley while sitting on a ridge. The deer, even if they come up from the valley where your scent is blowing, will come from far below that scent because it’s blowing right over their head. Basically, the wrong way to hunt the wind is to allow your wind to blow directly to where you expect deer to come from. take the picture below for example. Any wind that is not coming from the Southwest is going to be blowing my scent straight to where I expect deer to come from with the exception of one trail. That one trail is not used during daylight though unless the deer are coming from the East rather than the North like shown in the picture. Regardless, the easiest way for me to be hunting the wind the wrong way is to hunt this stand in any wind other than a consistent SouthWest wind.
Hunting the Wind – The Right Way
With my local funnel spot (Feature Photo), I can pretty much hunt in any wind. The reason for that is because I have several trees picked out based on which way the wind is blowing. If the wind is coming from the the South or Southeast, I sit in the tree that is the blue circle in the top left of the woods. In a Southwest wind, I sit in the top right spot because that gives me the best chance at catching a mature buck thinking he has the wind totally in his favor when I’m really sitting right on the edge of a good wind for me. Any wind from the North or West, I can sit in either the top right spot or the bottom spot and I’m good to go. As much as you want to approach stands from as far down wind as you can, it’s not always practical or the right way to go about it. Let’s look at the spot in the picture right above. That stand is on a property border, and I can only hunt it during a wind that blows in to the neighbors side of the fence. Because of that, I have no way to approach that stand without spooking deer if I try to enter from the property border. Instead, I have to walk in along the main trail (yellow line) so that my scent disperses as much as possible before it gets to the bedded deer. Once in the stand though, I should not get busted by any deer.
The basics of hunting the wind is not hard to grasp and once you do, you’ll greatly improve your chances of that once in a lifetime buck. Hunting the wind should be your number one goal when thinking about where to set up a treestand once you’ve found good sign. Though you need to consider your access, it’s not always practical. The main concern is once you’ve gotten to the treestand. Happy Hunting!