By Tom Ryle, FreshTRAX Outdoors
Keeping track of wind currents while hunting is important but for bowhunters it is critically important due to the close-range game we play. There are many ways to carry out this task, ranging from many do-it-yourself solutions to commercially produced products.
I’m a DIY sort of guy, so I’ll share a few methods that have worked for me over the years. Many years ago I used to tape a short length of dental floss to my upper bow limb. It worked well for noticeable breezes but failed to pick up the light air currents that often spoil close-range opportunities. To take this approach to the next level, I used to tie a small goose down feather to a piece of thread and attach this assembly to the upper bow limb. This approach will reveal the more delicate wind currents and works pretty well in dry weather. With both of these methods you must take caution to avoid getting the fine thread caught up in your cams (if shooting a compound bow) or getting it yanked off by the grabbing arms of vegetation.
If hunting in dry habitats or along, a pinch of fine dust will do the trick nicely. Toss a small amount into the air and the prevailing wind currents will be readily visible. Another natural on-the-fly solution is Dandelions seed blooms. They may be a bane to your lawn but they can serve as a simple wind check in the field. Dry grasses and other natural vegetation may also work in a pinch.
A goose down pillow can provide a lifetime of material for checking even the most subtle breeze. Fill a small ziplock baggy or an old film canister with small feathers and keep it in your pack. Anytime you want to check the wind you can float a feather or two to read the wind quickly. I’ve used this tactic in my treestand hunting for over 15 years and have found it very effective. From an elevated stand you can watch the near-weightless feathers float well beyond the visible effectiveness of powder-based wind checks. I’ve been amazed to watch a feather rise sharply in the sun, then drop like a rock in the shadows. Your scent will behave the same way and you can learn a lot by watching down feathers float from your stands.
For my general purpose bowhunting on the ground, I prefer food-grade cornstarch from the grocery store. Cornstarch is extremely fine and is virtually odorless. A box will cost a buck or two and last several seasons. I have experimented with many squeeze-bottle-type dispensers and have found plastic Elmers(R) Glue bottles to work best for me. The trademark orange screw-top allows you to open and close it quickly and control the amount you expel with each puff. The flat profile bottle enables me to keep the bottle in an upper shirt pocket or a cargo pocket in my pants without the bulk. I wrap mine with camouflage tape to help conceal its use when closing the gap on a bull. Changes in terrain and as I mentioned, sunny or shady areas can change the way wind behaves so I usually have my bow in one hand and my powder bottle in the other so I can monitor the wind as I move.
So there you have it – some simple tips to keep the wind in your face and big game in your shooting lanes. Good Luck!