How To Hunt Whitetails In The Wind


*Make sure to check out my whitetail “Success By Design” book series, to help you find mature bucks this hunting season!

Take the recent study written about in this article, “Winds Surprising Effects On Deer Movement”, by Leah Giralico. Leah is an undergraduate in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, working towards her B.S. degree in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences. The article contains some great charts and research within her article, and I suggest that you take the time to read it. There is a lot more to read, but Leah had this to say:

“And what did the data tell us? Well, it was pretty surprising! It seems that for both males and females, deer move MORE during a windy day, but theyll move LESS during a windy night!”

Of course there are always cases where monster bucks have been harvested during extremely windy days, but that same process could include cases where Booners have been shot during high heat, heavy rain and during the middle of the day. But what is the norm? Something that you should take the time to do is find a field that hosts a pile of deer during most evenings. Maybe you have already done this through decades of hunting and scouting, but it is worth the effort to observe these areas frequently. What you will consistently find is most likely contrary to the overwhelming amount of data that suggests that deer move the same during windy weather as they do during non windy weather. If you observe evening destination fields during windy weather, you will most likely find very few deer feeding, and sometimes none at all. So which is true; the scientific data or real world observations? The answer: Both!

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Wind does effect whitetail movements while not effecting whitetail movements at the same time, and it is important to understand both how and why.

Hunting Whitetails In The Wind

-“The wind is your friend.”

That statement is one of my favorite personal pieces of advice that I can give to hunters. Does it mean that monster bucks movements increase when wind speeds are increasing? Absolutely not, but what it does mean is that there are more ways to use the wind to your advantage when you hunt whitetails in the wind, than not. I rarely take a treestand that is exposed to 12-15mph winds or higher. I do not, because decades of experienc have taught me that if my tree is shaking from the wind, I am less likely to have an opportunity on a mature buck. It’s that simple.

Although it may sound contradictory, one of my favorite techniques is to hunt during extremely windy weather. To understand why the science of deer movements and hunting observations can be opposite while still being the same, I invite you to take the time to check out several of my other favorite techniques for hunting whitetails in the wind:

1. It’s always less windy somewhere

Should you sit in a tree that is swaying in the wind? Most of the time, “No”. Should you hunt when trees are swaying? Most of the time, “Yes”. My favorite way to hunt during extremely windy conditions is to hunt on the lee side of a ridge system. The Penn State study showed a slight increase in movements during moderate winds, and my hunting experiences match that. But what the data doesn’t show is that the increase of deer movements most likely were not adjacent to your favorite treestand on the crest of a ridgeline, or at the edge of an exposed ag field. Instead, in my experience deer move often where the conditions are less windy, in particular if they are extremely windy somewhere else. This experience applies to the lee side of a ridge, a flat conifer swamp, on the even the lee side of a woodlot or expansive native grass field.

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I have observed many times that the lee side of any solid section of wind-blocking habitat (hills, thickets, native grass) can contain a concentration of deer that actually move great distances to escape high winds. In that case both scientifica data and hunting observations would reveal the same thing: Deer movements can increase during increases in wind. The trick is to hunt where whitetails move to during windy days, and not necessarily within the exposed area of the wind itself.

2. Wind creates a rollercoaster of whitetail feeding opportunity

The Penn State study revealed that increases in wind during the night led to decreases in deer movements, and that makes complete sense! During the night deer gravitate to open hardwoods and ag fields to pound their favorite quality forage. They leave the security of their daytime bedding areas in a highly defined movement to feed heavily, while often being exposed within limited cover. Although deer don’t have to consider hunting pressure during their night time feedings, they do have to consider predation while using their eyes, ears and nose to avoid becoming another statistic. Although a full moon can increase the ability for a deer to avoid predation with increased visibility, wind can decrease their ability because of the loss of hearing. However deer feed 5 times during 24 hour period and if multiple feedings are missed, expect heavy feeding when the conditions improve!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>