Windy weather is enjoyable unless you head out for deer hunting and everything messes up. Numerous hunters are hesitant to go on a hunt in windy conditions and wonder how much wind is too much for deer hunting. Note that when the wind blows at a speed higher than 15 mph, it would impact the deer’s movement. However, if the speed exceeds 30 mph, it would put a halt to all of the deer’s activities.
Deer hunting in rain and wind can be challenging because it impacts deer movements and living patterns. Also, as soon as the deer smells human fragrance, it would bounce back to another county in a milli-instant. Even though the game animals keep cruising every now and then, wind can impact the regular travel patterns. Strong winds not only make deers disappear from their common living grounds but also interrupt successful hunting for humans.
Well, this shouldn’t be a worrisome case because there is a solution for everything in today’s advanced world. Yes, you heard me right. Despite harsh windy conditions, you can still make the most of hunting and bag some trophy bucks. With the help of certain strategies, understanding deer behaviors, and wind detector hunting apps, you can manage to strive through.
Below you can find everything about how much wind is too much for deer hunting. These tips and tricks helped me and my friends to bring home two mighty game animals during the windiest season in Urban Louisville, Kentucky.
Do Deer Walk Into The Wind Or With The Wind?
Several hunters have a misconception about deer’s movement and they believe that wind holds deer from traveling. However, winds always provoke the game animals to change their location and even their travel patterns in severe cases. Deers will likely move with the wind rather than into the wind.
A study was carried out by Penn State University to determine how much wind is too much for deer hunting. In the study, they made three categories for wind speed i.e.,
- Calm winds: 0 to 1 mph
- Moderate winds: 1 to 15 mph
- Strong winds: 16 to 27 mph.
It was later concluded that varying wind speeds had a significant effect on bucks’ movement and no impact on does. The does are likely to bed down instead of moving during high winds probably because of their fawns.
For bucks, it was observed that they started traveling more as the wind speed increased. According to the study, bucks’ travel time was 100 ft/hr during calming winds (less than 1 mph). However, it increased up to 115 ft/hr when winds blew between 1 to 15 mph and approx. 213 ft/hr when winds were strong i.e., between 16 to 27 mph.
Important Factors To Know When Hunting In Windy Weather
Following are some key factors that every hunter must have at their fingertips. The list is compiled by me and hunting friends at Hunting Manual. These factors come in handy especially during moderately windy conditions i.e., reaching 15 mph.
- Deer Movement
Deers will change their movement patterns mostly when wind speed exceeds 15 mph. The game animals will prefer to hide in such conditions mostly during the daytime. Being nocturnal, deers are already more active at night and this is how they behave in windy weather as well. They leave their shelters at midnight or dawn but opt for different routes than their regular ones.
As bucks start moving, they stop relying upon their sense of smell and use their sight to search for the best shelters. That is when they enter a whole new territory with which they are unfamiliar and hence, usually fail to escape from predators.
At this point, hunters use latest hunting gear like rifle mounted rangefinders with camouflaging to hunt big bucks. As the winds speed up, deer would change their schedule of traveling. That is what every hunter must keep in mind and plan accordingly.
- Deer Smelling Sense
No one can deny the impeccable smelling sense that deers have. This particular capability of the game animals helps them escape hunters from miles away. However, they are not able to utilize this ability when a strong wind blows. This is because winds blow from various directions and carry several kinds of fragrances along. It ultimately makes it harder for the deer to figure out which smell is coming from which direction.
- Deer Bedding Activities
Bucks would only alter their bedding activities when wind speed goes beyond moderate (exceeding 15 mph). That is when they no longer feel safe because wind interrupts their sense of smell.
In windy weather, deers would bed down in places where winds hit their backs so they can sense where the smell is coming from. Furthermore, they also rely on thick bushes or areas with heavy green mass as a shelter from heavy winds and predators.
- Bullet Or Arrow Trajectory
Imagine getting everything sorted and finally finding a mighty target right in front of your eyes but guess what? High winds deflected your bullet and you miss the shot. Heart-breaking, right? Well, you can prevent this from happening by understanding how wind impacts a bullet trajectory.
Remember, the closer you are to your prey, the lesser influence wind will have on the bullet. From shorter distances, wind can have a slight effect of 10 cm on your bullet so, make sure to aim accordingly.
Similarly, while bow hunting, try to maintain a short distance between you and your target so that the arrow isn’t deflected significantly. An extremely useful gear is bow hunting rangefinder. While bow hunting in tree stands and hunting blinds, I was able to range accurately without hurting animal. It would be wise to use a bow having greater draw weight so that the arrow travels faster. Wind will only have a minimum influence on an arrow that moves fast.
Understanding Wind Thermals
Wind thermals are also responsible for deer movement and therefore, every hunter must understand it. While we only feel the wind blowing in a parallel direction, it is rising and falling as well, known as the thermal column.
These thermals cause trouble for hunters when winds are strong but thermal columns bust you up. Swirling air allows the deers to sense human scent and there they run miles away from you. Fortunately, you can prevent this by modifying your schedule.
Thermal columns typically rise during the daytime and fall as it gets dark. During early morning hours, thermals won’t carry your scent to deers and that is when you can catch your prey. However, the scenario alters as the temperatures start rising and human scents are traveled along the thermals.
Wind Direction And Deer Hunting
Rangefinder and wind meter aren’t the only two gears that you must carry while on a deer hunt. Apart from distance and wind speed, you must also keep a track of wind direction. Doing so will keep your scent away from the buck. Here are some easy ways to determine wind direction.
- Wind Direction Hunting Apps
The wind hunting app should be a go-to source for every hunter to determine wind direction, speed, temperature, and more. You can find numerous apps online that show you from which direction wind is blowing in that particular area. These include:
For Android users:
- ScoutLook Hunting App (Android only)
- Tools for deer game logging
- Tools for area and distance measurement
- GPS property lines along with owner information
- Pinpoint global weather forecasts
- HuntWise App (Android only)
- Land boundaries with owner information
- More than 250 map layers
- 3-Dimensional mapping
- Offline maps
For iOS users:
- Wind Direction for Deer Hunting App (iOS only)
- Wind speed
- Wind direction GPS overlay
- Satellite view for terrains
- Can save up to 10 hunting spots using pin markers
- Wind Compass App (iOS only)
- Various measuring units for wind speed and temperature
- Compass magnetic declination
- Arrow direction of wind indication
- Wind Detector Hunting Tool
These are one of the most reliable tools that one could invest in. These are plastic bottles filled with powder with a small hole on the top. As you squeeze the bottle, the odorless powder comes out and the direction it puffs out will tell you from where the breezes are coming. These are also known as wind powder hunting tools.
- Smoke Bombs
Scent-free smoke bombs also work in the same way as wind powder tools do. As you lit the bomb, the smoke will cover a large area, providing you with better reading.
Weeds that have light seeds such as milkweeds, dandelions, etc. will move even in light windy weather. You can watch out for these during strong winds to determine the direction.
How To Take The Best Advantage of Strong Winds During Deer Hunting?
You can still make the most of your hunting even when the conditions are windy. Here is how to do it.
- Avoid Tree Stands
Tree stands might not be highly efficient when there are strong winds especially when the stand keeps shaking with the tree. The movement will not only be dangerous for you but can also draw a deer’s attention toward its predator.
- Control Your Odor
Regardless of the wind speed and direction, you must make sure that your scent is under control. Deers are exceptional when it comes to sensing human scent therefore, you must be extremely cautious. The best way to do so is by using wind blocking hunting clothes, applying scent-reduction products, and wearing rubber boats.
- Look For Naturally Calm Locations
The only place where bucks would travel in windy weather is a calm location with covers. So, look around for natural windbreaks that are also likely to provide deers with a safer shelter. These can be swamps, thick bushes, lee side of a tree, etc.
- Attract Or Distract The Deers
Since deers have an incredible sense of smell, why not trick them? A windy season can be a great time to attract or distract bucks. You can plot a food source, and use attractant scents, or scrapes to call out the nearby deers.
- Keep An Eye On Feeding Grounds
After traveling through the windy day, deers would venture out in search of food during darker hours. So, don’t forget to keep an eye on the feeding grounds nearby. Search near the areas with natural windbreaks since those are the most probable shelters for bucks when it is windier.
Wind And Turkey Hunting
Turkeys are known to gobble (eat noisily) and that is what acts as an alarm for the hunters. You can hear a turkey gobbling from even a mile away but only on calm days. But, when the weather gets windy, it becomes hard to hear the gobbling sound of these birds. Turkeys are also unable to see and hear the predators as efficiently as they do on normal days.
These birds are likely to get nervous in such conditions so, make sure you carry out the right strategies. For example, stay covered on the ground, turkeys will move more around thick bushes to stay safe from howling winds. Check all the possible areas and keep your aim ready for a quick attack. You can also try calling tactics to draw a couple of turkeys.
Wind And Duck Hunting
Fair skies are suggested as the best time to go out on a duck hunt. If the winds are blowing between 10 to 15 mph, you can hamper the success. As the wind gusts exceed 15 mph and reach up to 25 mph, this brings about some troubles.
This is when the ducks change their movement patterns and migrate to protected areas or leeward shore. In such windy conditions, hunters in boats also encounter issues in rafting and tackling rough wind and water both. At this time, you must cautiously check sheltered areas and lee shores to find a couple of ducks.
There cannot be a clear answer for how much wind is too much for deer hunting. But, know that there would be a significant change in deer activities when wind speed goes beyond 15 mph. They will keep cruising when winds start to blow stronger. From altering their bedding sites to changing travel routes and patterns, game animals stay very cautious in windy conditions.
However, if you opt for the right strategies and understand deer’s travel patterns, you can successfully bag a trophy buck.