As cliché as it sounds, there’s a reason many successful bowhunting stories start with the phrase, “The wind was in my face.” Most seasoned bowhunters know their success relies on the wind.
Deer have a fantastic sense of smell and wind acts as vehicle to bring scent to them. Wind can blow your hunt, but it’s not all bad. You can use the wind to help fill a tag by positioning yourself so the wind takes your scent away from deer.
How to Play the Wind
To use the wind to your advantage, set your stand so the wind blows your scent away from where you expect deer to approach.
To determine you stand placement gather information about deer movement by scouting and using trail cameras. Then talk to the experts at your nearby archery store, or check your area’s weather records to learn the season’s prevailing wind directions.
Whenever possible, hang two stands at a given site to take advantage of different wind patterns. Before you hunt, check daily weather forecasts for the wind direction to help decide which stand to hunt from.
The weather forecast isn’t always accurate and you can double-check the wind direction with a wind indicator, a small squeeze bottle filled with a white powder.
When you squeeze the bottle, the powder squirts into the air and indicates wind direction. You can also toss some light grass, soil or snow into the air and see which direction it blows.
An ideal wind condition is a steady breeze blowing from a consistent direction. When the wind constantly switches direction, it increases your chances of getting busted. To minimize this risk, you can use scent management products to cut down on human odor.
Wind primarily affects your scent, but strong winds can impact your arrow flight and deer movement.
A light wind won’t affect arrow flight, but a strong crosswind gust can send it flying off course. If the forecast is calling for strong winds – think more than 20 mph – prepare to make adjustments. Arrow weight, velocity and distance will all determine how your arrow will handle the wind.
The lighter the arrow weight, the more the wind will throw it around. The poundage you shoot will also have an impact; the more weight you pull, the faster your arrow will fly, minimizing flight disruption. Also, consider the distance you are shooting. The longer the arrow is in flight, the farther off course the arrow can become in wind.
In an in-depth series on wind for “Petersen’s Bowhunting,” author Randy Ulmer writes, “In order to minimize wind drift we want a low-profile, small-diameter arrow with low-profile, short fletchings and a low-profile, short broadhead. We also want a short arrow. The arrow needs to be relatively heavy as well, though this is a balancing act between speed and weight.” (For additional tips on how to build an arrow to fly in the wind, check out this informational article from Easton.)
Not only can wind knock your arrow off course, you face a real battle holding steady enough to aim. Strong winds can make it difficult to take an accurate and ethical shot. If strong wind is in the forecast, consider ditching the treestand and hunting from a protected ground blind. If the wind is gusting, wait for the gust to pass before drawing your bow and taking a shot. (This may be easier said than done, as animals don’t always present shots at the perfect time.)
Strong winds make wildlife nervous, because it makes it difficult for them to use their senses to identify danger. Strong wind makes a lot of noise, so they can’t hear well but you can work this to your advantage. On windy days, many animals will bed down for the day. If you spot an animal on its bed, you may be able to take a shot, because the wind can cover your sound.
The wind can present challenges to the bowhunter, but it doesn’t have to be the enemy. With knowledge and preparation, you can use it to your advantage and fill your freezer.