How to hunt the wind for deer hunting and scent control.

Hunting the Wind: How to Use the Wind to Hunt Deer

As a bow hunter, keeping a deer from smelling you is one of the most critical factors in your success. Deer have an incredibly keen sense of smell, and even the slightest scent of human presence can spook them and send them running. To avoid detection, you need to learn how to use the wind to hunt deer more effectively. This blog post will help you master the art of scent control while hunting deer using wind direction as your tool of choice.

First off, I’ve hunted for a lot of years and tried to rely solely on scent control clothing, rubber boots, masks, scent elimination sprays, etc., and found that I was missing a key piece of the puzzle – the wind. We’ve all been sniffed out by a deer and have watched them run away without knowing exactly how they knew we were there.

You can’t beat a mature buck’s nose, but you can use its nose against him and minimize his ability to sniff you out. That’s where having a solid scent routine combined with hunting the wind comes in.

Buck sniffing the air and checking the wind for predators

Understanding Wind Patterns

The first step in hunting the wind for scent control is understanding wind patterns. Wind moves in unpredictable ways and can swirl and change direction at any time, so it’s essential to be aware of the wind’s direction and speed before heading out to hunt. Here are some wind patterns you should be familiar with:

  • Constant wind: A steady wind that maintains its direction and speed over time.
  • Variable wind: A wind that changes direction or speed frequently.
  • Thermals: Warm air rises and cool air sinks, creating updrafts and downdrafts that can affect wind patterns.

These different winds can keep you on your toes and change direction on you in an instant. You always need to know which way it is blowing. You can use a variety of tools, such as wind-checking powder, milkweed pods, or even a simple piece of string tied to a tree, to keep up with the current wind direction. Once you know which way the wind is blowing, you can adjust your hunting strategy accordingly.

Always be aware that the weather forecast may say one thing, but the actual wind direction you find on the ground in the area you are hunting may be drastically different. That’s why you need to check the wind periodically to ensure you are covered.

Use different tools to see the wind direction like milkweed, etc.

How to Use the Wind to Hunt Deer

The most important thing to keep in mind is to always hunt with the wind in your favor. This means setting up your stand or blind in a spot where the wind is blowing your scent away from where you expect the deer to come from. For example, if you’re hunting a field, you’ll want to set up on the downwind side of where you expect deer to appear so that the wind is carrying your scent away from them.

Here are a few techniques you can use when using the wind to select the best hunting stand or blind location:

  • Hunting into the wind: Hunting into the wind is the most effective way to control your scent. This means positioning yourself downwind of where you expect the deer to be.
  • Hunting with a crosswind: If hunting into the wind isn’t possible, a crosswind can be effective. Position yourself perpendicular to the wind direction so that your scent is carried away from where you expect the deer to be.
  • Hunting with the wind at your back: Hunting with the wind at your back should be avoided if possible, as your scent will be carried directly toward the deer. However, in some situations, it may be your only option. If you must hunt with the wind at your back, position yourself far away from where you expect the deer to be and if hunting from a tree stand, increase your height in the tree to keep your scent layer above where the deer can detect it (if possible).

When scouting your hunting spots, you should always plan your access, stand location, and exit for different winds. Some spots just don’t work for certain winds. Prevailing winds in the USA are largely westerly winds and an elusive east wind can open up hunting opportunities that don’t normally happen.

Each area has a different dynamic and it is important to study what the prevailing wind direction is in your area, but also plan for when it shifts and changes. In addition, thermals can impact this as well. More on them below.

How to hunt the wind for deer hunting with the wind in your face for access and stand locations.

Understand How Buck Bedding Changes Based on Wind Direction

A mature buck will normally bed in a location that puts the wind in his favor. In hill country, bucks will bed with the wind coming over their back so they can take advantage of the thermals that rise up the hillsides during the day. This can make them very hard to hunt.

Timing can be crucial and understanding the times of day that are optimal for moving and getting to your stand undetected is important. In flat lands or agriculture settings where thermals have little to no impact, a lot of mature bucks will bed with the wind in their face and structure to their back for security.

*When learning how to use the wind to hunt deer, understanding how buck bedding areas change based on wind direction is a critical component to your success.

Access Your Hunting Spot Undetected

When it comes to hunting the wind for deer scent control, entering and exiting your hunting spot is crucial. Your goal is to control your scent and remain undetected by the deer, and that starts with your access and infill plan. Here are some tips to help you enter your hunting spot undetected:

  • Plan your access carefully: Before heading out to your hunting spot, take the time to study the wind direction and terrain. Plan your approach so you can enter your hunting spot without crossing upwind of where you expect the deer to be.
  • Time your entry: Pay close attention to the wind direction and wait until it’s in your favor before making your approach. If the wind is blowing toward the deer, it will carry your scent and alert them to your presence.
  • Use terrain to your advantage: Take advantage of the natural terrain, such as hills or ridges, to help shield your scent and mask your approach.
  • Move slowly and quietly: Approach your hunting spot slowly and quietly to avoid spooking any deer in the area. A sudden movement or noise can alert them to your presence.
  • Consider using a decoy: If you’re using a decoy, place it in a location that will draw the deer away from your entry route. This can help mask your scent and allow you to enter your hunting spot undetected.
  • Have an exfil strategy: Remember that how you exit your hunting spot is as important as how you enter if you want to continue hunting there day after day. You don’t want to blow the deer out of the area due to unnecessary scent dropping when you are heading home after your hunt.
Bucks can bed on points and change which point they bed on based on the direction of the wind. This is important to understand when learning how to use the wind to hunt deer.

Hunting Winds and Thermals Together

When learning how to use the wind to hunt deer, you need to be aware of thermals and how they interact with wind direction. Thermals can have a significant impact on wind patterns, especially in hilly or mountainous terrain.

Thermals are pockets of warm air that rise and cool air that sinks. These air currents can move in unpredictable ways and can have a significant impact on wind direction. For example, in the morning, cool air sinks down valleys and slopes, creating a downhill wind flow. As the sun rises and warms the air, it creates an updraft, which can cause the wind to shift and become an uphill flow.

To take advantage of both wind and thermals, you need to pay attention to the time of day and the terrain. Here are some tips for hunting with winds and thermals together:

  • In the morning, position yourself uphill from the deer’s expected location to take advantage of the downhill wind flow created by the cool air sinking down the slopes.
  • As the day warms up and the thermals change, consider moving to a new location that takes advantage of the uphill wind flow created by the updrafts.
  • Pay attention to the terrain and how it affects the thermals. For example, ridges can create updrafts, while valleys can create downdrafts.
  • Use a solid scent control routine to reduce your scent, even if you’re hunting with the wind at your back. This can help you remain undetected even if the wind shifts unexpectedly.

By combining your knowledge of wind patterns and thermals, you can increase your chances of success when hunting deer. Be aware of the time of day and the terrain, and adjust your position accordingly to take advantage of the wind and thermals. Understand that your downwind side will always be vulnerable to detection. The only way to mask your scent completely there is via an ozone generator (see my review here).

Finalizing Your Wind Hunting Strategy

In addition to using the wind to your advantage, you can also use it to predict deer movement patterns. Deer will typically move into the wind, as it allows them to detect danger and avoid predators. By setting up your stand or blind with this in mind, you can increase your chances of encountering deer.

Finally, it’s important to be adaptable and adjust your strategy based on changing wind conditions. Wind can shift and change direction quickly, so be prepared to move your stand or blind if needed.

By understanding how to hunt the wind and use it to your advantage, you can increase your chances of success and become a more effective deer hunter. With a little practice and attention to detail, you can control your scent and outsmart even the most elusive deer.

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