When the wind starts howling through the trees, most hunters pack it up for the day. But for those willing to adapt their hunting strategy, blustery days can actually provide prime shot opportunities on undisturbed bucks.
In fact, a study done by Penn State discovered that deer move more during windy conditions, not less. They found that even a little wind will cause deer to move more than during calm conditions.
Let’s dive in and master the art of deer hunting in high wind.
- Focus hunts on areas deer move to on windy days, not exposed ridges. Target bedding zones and downwind funnel edges.
- Use scent control strategies like scent eliminating spray and nose jammers. Monitor thermals carefully.
- Remain flexible on stand locations based on wind direction. Have multiple “wind stands” to rotate.
- Safety is critical – use harnesses, lifelines, quality straps. Practice shooting rests for stability.
- Bring wind indicators to monitor conditions. Have backup shooting sticks for longer shots.
- Stay patient and hunt all day. Deer remain on properties, just with modified patterns.
- For clothing, opt for windproof, noise-dampening camo to retain warmth while staying quiet.
- Use calls like grunts and rattling horns to pique curiosity. Rattle near bedding cover.
- Consistent wind direction is best.
Focus on Deer Movement, Not Exposed Wind Areas
Focus your hunt on the areas deer move to during windy days, rather than trying to hunt on the wind itself where they can easily detect you. Use the wind to your advantage. Whitetails rely heavily on their nose, so heavy winds help mask a hunter’s scent. However, deer also become extra cautious in gusty conditions, sticking to thick cover and bedding areas rather than expose themselves on open ridges or field edges.
I’ve found the most consistent action in wind by targeting major funnel points along bedding ridges, saddles connecting bedding and feeding areas, and downwind edges of food plots or ag fields. Especially key are transition zones between vastly different habitat types. While the wind may be ripping over an open CRP field, the deer are likely bedded just inside the timberline waiting for dusk. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and move to these high-percentage wind spots that deer naturally gravitate towards.
Master Scent Control Tactics
With a deer’s nose on high alert, effective scent control is crucial for slipping into range undetected. I religiously spray down all my gear and clothing with scent-eliminating spray like Dead Down Wind, and add activated carbon clothing on top. A nose jammer dragged behind me on the way in covers my entry, and I stay downwind of expected deer movement.
Just as important as products is scent control awareness and strategy. I note exact wind direction and monitor for changes, while also considering thermals that can swirl and carry scent. I’ve busted hidden bedded bucks on seemingly perfect wind days by not accounting for thermals correctly. Take your time, confirm precise wind direction, keep a nose jammer handy, and be ready to pull out if the wind swirls. Playing the wind right is a chess match, but pays major dividends.
Be Flexible and Move Setup Locations
Rather than sticking hard to predetermined setups, I’ve learned to remain flexible and change locations to adapt to the wind on a given day. Certain stands or blinds that normally work great with a South wind are worthless on a hard North wind day. But an alternate stand a few hundred yards away might be money if it sits along a major transition funnel.
I now have a few “wind stands” at each property that cater specifically to North, South, East or West winds. Before I head out, I check the hourly wind forecast and pick the optimal stand accordingly. If the wind shifts significantly during your hunt, be ready to climb down and relocate. Scouting and preparing multiple setups pays off big when you can move and adjust on the fly to match the wind.
Essential Gear and Equipment for Hunting Deer in High Wind
When hunting deer in gusty, blustery conditions, having the right gear can make a huge difference in comfort, effectiveness, and safety. Based on many seasons chasing whitetails in nasty winds, here are the key pieces of gear and equipment I recommend bringing along.
Focus on Wind and Scent Control Clothing
Specialized wind and scent control clothing is a must for hunting in the wind. Look for windproof jackets and bibs that are also silent when they rub together. Scent suppressing technologies like activated carbon lining provide an added layer of odor absorption as well.
Lightweight base layers featuring Polygiene or ScentLok are ideal for managing scent while keeping you warm. A neck gaiter that you can raise over your mouth and nose helps block wind and further contain scent. Durability is also key – you want quiet, tear-resistant gear that can withstand scraping through brush.
Use Tree Straps, Harnesses, and Lifelines
When hunting from an elevated stand in heavy wind, safety becomes a serious priority. Always use a full body safety harness, securely connect it to the tree before ascending, and keep it hooked from the time you leave the ground until you get back down.
Tree strap systems are stronger and safer than ratchet straps, providing a solid anchor point. A lifeline offers an additional connection point for maximum security, allowing you to reposition in the stand while staying connected. Don’t take chances with damaged or loose straps. Inspect all safety gear before each hunt.
Hunting on windy days is no joke. Even moderate winds can increase the risk of a fall or other injury from a tree stand.
Opt for a Directional Shooting Rest
High winds play havoc with your aim, so some type of shooting rest can be helpful for accurate shot placement. I prefer a lightweight, portable rest like the Deadshot Fieldpod that allows you to swivel and adjust for wind direction. The added stability and support lets you make ethical shots, even in nasty crosswinds.
For gun hunters, a lead sled shooting rest eliminates recoil and anchors your firearm solidly. Either way, practice ahead of time and know how to properly align your rest for the wind direction and speed. You don’t want to be fiddling with adjustments as a bruiser buck stares from 50 yards away.
Keep Wind Indicators Within View
Small wind pinwheels or flutters mounted near your stand or blind provide helpful visual confirmation of real-time wind speed and direction. They allow you to monitor for shifting wind conditions and react before it’s too late.
I combine wind indicators with Milkweed fluff or non-scented Scent Wicks set out downwind. Watching how these travel visually reinforces wind currents along the ground. Use them to identify thermals and eddies that could impact your scent stream.
Pack in Backup Shooting Sticks
Even with a rest, shots over 40 yards in windy weather are dicey. Shooting sticks provide added stability for longer shots if needed. They also allow you to stand and swivel to adjust to the wind direction. If your setup prohibits shots past a certain distance, sticks can make hits possible if a buck hangs up out of range.
Spare sticks don’t take up much space in a daypack and they don’t need to be huge. I use a compact tripod which rolls up nice and tight. Be ready with backup options in case bucks don’t cooperate and stay just out of bow range.
Preparing for challenging windy conditions requires specialized gear and equipment. But with the right tools, you can hunt effectively and ethically, even when the wind is howling. Don’t let nasty weather ruin your season – get properly equipped and make this your best year yet, no matter what the forecast brings.
Be Patient – The Deer Are Still There
It’s easy to be discouraged staring into empty woods on extremely gusty days. But you must remember the deer haven’t vanished – they’ve just modified their patterns to compensate. Bring snacks, rattle and grunt call occasionally, and don’t be afraid to sit all day. I’ve shot multiple booner bucks in the middle of the day as they finally rose to stretch their legs on marginal wind days.
Whitetails survive by living in the moment and optimizing whatever conditions they face each day. As hunters, we have to be honest about the situation. Recognize that wind changes have an effect on deer movement. Embrace the difficulties of wind rather than complain about them, and be willing to grind out all-day sits. Be persistent, hunt the wind like a pro, and you might get a chance at a mature buck other hunters have already given up on.
Next time the wind kicks up, don’t throw in the towel. By hunting smarter, not harder, blustery days can serve up some of the most memorable whitetail encounters you’ll experience. I hope these advanced tactics help you tag your next monster buck, even when it seems the odds are stacked against you. Get out there and master the art of hunting deer in high wind.
What time of day is best to hunt deer when it’s very windy?
The last hour of daylight, right before dark, can be prime time. Bucks will get up from their bedding areas to stretch and start moving in the thicker cover. Be ready for them to appear suddenly. Midday can also be good as deer get tired of bedding all day.
Should I use rattling antlers and grunt calls on windy days?
Yes, subtle rattling and grunting can help pique curiosity, especially if bucks have been laying low out of the wind. Grunt calls should be used sparingly to avoid overcalling. Rattling works best around bedding areas.
Is it worth hunting if the wind speeds are over 25-30 mph?
It can be if you focus on funnel areas, transitions, and bedding spots deer move to in high wind. But extreme, steady wind over 30 mph in one direction all day will likely result in a low percentage hunt. Gusts that cycle up and down are better.
What wind direction is best?
A steady, consistent wind direction is better than gusts from different directions. This allows you to set up predictably downwind. A frontal wind switching from North to West is difficult. Consistent NW winds are better.
Should I wear a facemask in heavy wind?
Yes, a facemask can help reduce your scent stream on gusty days. It also blocks the wind itself from hitting your face which can improve comfort in a treestand all day.
How do I avoid getting busted from noise while climbing into a treestand?
Carefully identify the loudest noises your stand setup makes and mitigate them. Pull up bow/gun and backpack with rope, replace squeaky straps, and hunt lower winds if needed. Go slow.
Can I use rattling antlers from the ground in high wind?
Yes, rattling from the ground in gusty winds can be effective way to hunt in high winds. Pick a hidden spot in or near a bedding area, rattle sparingly, and be ready for bucks to appear quickly, from downwind.
What clothing system is best?
Use a windproof, noise-dampening outer layer and whisper-silent base layers. The goal is to stay warm while eliminating noise. If you’ll be exerting yourself, make sure to vent excess moisture. Staying dry is key.
I hope these answers help you better understand how to effectively hunt whitetails on blustery days. Don’t view windy conditions as an obstacle. Use smart tactics and enjoy some great action!