How To

Hunting the Wind: Tips for Waterfowlers and Deer Hunters

Where you set up your waterfowl decoys depends on the wind. If the wind shifts, you need to be able to change things in a hurry to be successful.

Where you set up your waterfowl decoys depends on the wind. If the wind shifts, you need to be able to change things in a hurry to be successful.

There are plenty of things that you have no control over when you’re hunting. The wind may be the biggest and most important factor that affects your chances of having a good hunt. For deer hunters, wind shifts can make a stand location the wrong choice and for waterfowlers, wind changes can leave you with decoys in the wrong spot, or much worse.

Why does the wind blow?

While that could be a line from some existential poem, it’s a serious question. While tides on the ocean are largely influenced by the moon, winds are caused by the sun. The sun’s light heats the surface of the earth. The earth’s heated surface heats the air and as we all know from hot air balloons, heated air rises. As that hot air rises, other air moves in to fill the void, thus creating wind. The same effect happens over water. This, of course, is a very simplified description of what is happening.

As hunters, we’re aware of what pressure systems do for hunting situations. Those pressure systems are the result of rapid warming and cooling of air, according to research done by Cornell University. Low-pressure systems are usually caused when air rapidly warms by a little extra heating from the sun, making the air rise. Cooler air then rushes in to replace it. The warm air rises, and cools, which causes it to sink, and we end up with moisture-laden cooled air dropping rapidly, and we end up with a low-pressure weather system. The air motion is more complicated because it tries to stick to the earth’s surface and it tends to follow the earth’s rotation. It gets pretty complicated but this makes air moving north try to turn east and air moving south try to turn west.

Respect the wind

What this means for hunters in the field is that things can change very quickly. How many times have you been out and had the wind shift? It can really mess up your hunting and not just in the ways you think.

For waterfowl, if you’ve ever been sitting out on a field with a few dozen Hard Core Full Body goose decoys set up in your pattern of choice, and had the wind do an abrupt shift from say a southeast direction to a westerly wind, you have some quick decisions to make. Sure the TruMotion bases will do some of the work for you, but the whole direction of the spread will need some tweaking to be truly effective. If you’ve ever had the chance to do it, watch how live birds react to wind shifts

It gets a little harder with ducks. Wind shifts can mean that little cove you’re tucked into can suddenly be a bad situation. At the very least, you’ll need to switch things up fast to adjust to the wind direction. That is one of the many benefits to Texas rigs, like those on the Pre-Rigged Hard Core decoys. You can pull up fast and make a move.

Wear your Scent Blocker gear and your Tree Spider safety harness. Scent-free and safe is the only way to hunt!

Wear your Scent Blocker gear and your Tree Spider safety harness. Scent-free and safe is the only way to hunt!

There is also a safety issue to think about. Wind shift and low-pressure systems can often mean bad weather. No duck or goose is worth dying for, right? Watching the wind and knowing that big shifts can sometimes mean serious weather is approaching. Make the right call when you have to and call it a day.

Deer hunters know that deer have decent eyesight, outstanding hearing, and a nose that has ruined many a hunter’s day. As a result, many of us have multiple stand locations so we can hunt the one that is right for the wind. But how many times have you been in the right stand for the wind that morning, only to have the wind shift and give you up? I know I have had more than one occasion where the wind shifted and moments later I heard the sound of hooves beating a hasty retreat.

The best way around that is, of course, to eliminate the scent part of the equation. ScentBlocker clothing is a must. I’ve been wearing the Super Freak Bone Collector jacket and pants so far this season. Along with a religiously followed scent-control program, I have yet to be winded this year. It also happens that my wife say the outfit makes me look pretty darn sexy. Yeah, my wife says my camo makes me look hot. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ll take it!

There is one other thing to consider too. When it gets windy, have you noticed the deer don’t usually move as much? It’s been my experience that when the wind really kicks in, the deer bed down and wait it out. They trust their ears and nose more than anything, so it makes sense that if the wind messes with those senses, a deer is going to hold up until it feels safe to move.

It’s also a good idea to bail out if your tree starts swinging back and forth in the wind. Just because you’re wearing a Tree Spider safety harness doesn’t mean you should see how long you can stay there. Just as with ducks and geese, there is no deer worth dying for. It could be the next world-record buck, if I have a serious chance of dying from trying to harvest that deer, it’s going to get a pass. I want to hug my kids that night!

The best ways to monitor the wind are to use wind-checking powder, like the Hard Core Wind Checker, and by staying alert. I mean, you know if the wind changes. A wind-checker can help detect those subtle changes that you may not feel. Just this past weekend, I was tipped in that the wind was changing some because of how some geese were flying. They made some abrupt changes that I soon felt. This lead to a quick change in the spread and the next flock, well, you get the idea.

One more thing about deer hunting and the wind. At one spot where I hunt, there is a swirling wind about 50 percent of the time. It is on the forward side of a ridge and no matter what I do, there is no perfect way to set up. I had noticed for years that bucks would hold up just inside the thicker cover before finally coming out into the Evolved Harvest food plot, but if another buck was already there, the buck would come in much easier. I think bucks hold up and really survey the area hard before they break cover. Does tend to just be alert all the time, but will often break cover much quicker. I’ve had some luck using the Ol’ jack Deer Decoy as a confidence decoy. Of course, during the rut, there are other benefits to using a decoy. Love causes us guys to do weird and stupid things and bucks are known to disregard the wind when it comes to matters of the, um, heart.

So keep an eye on the wind when you’re hunting. Check it often, even if you don’t think it has shifted. If you have a smartphone, make sure you have a weather map, and if you have access, set up weather alerts. Your hunting success, and maybe your life, depends on respecting the wind.

Images courtesy Derrek Sigler/Hard Core Decoys

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  • Mike

    All great advice.