Be Prepared to Hunt Deer in Wrong Wind Conditions and Consider Moon Phases

Like most hunters, I really don’t like to hunt an area that I believe holds a big buck when the wind will blow my scent in that buck’s direction. However, I’ve learned you don’t always know from which way a buck will come. For instance, if you hunt into the wind in the afternoon when the buck should come from his bedding site to his feeding area, you still may have a buck walk up behind you that has fed early. Deer hunting information has no absolutes. Since deer can’t read outdoor magazines, they really don’t know what they should do, and when they should do it. Older-age-class bucks often will circle downwind when they hear a grunt call or rattling antlers. Even though you’ve set up with the wind in your favor, many times a buck will move in from downwind regardless of what you do.

To solve this problem, I always assume I’ll have to hunt with a bad wind. I wear knee-high rubber boots, bathe before I hunt, wash my clothes with odor-eliminating soaps, use Hunter’s Specialties’ Scent-A-Way’s spray to neutralize my body odor from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes, try to approach my stand using a water route and utilize odor neutralizers while in my stand. I also climb as high as I can safely go in a tree. I believe the higher I climb, the less likely that the deer will smell me because my odor will remain above them. Even if a deer smells me, I hope my position in the tree will allow my odor to dissipate enough so that the deer can’t tell from what direction the odor comes or the age of that odor.

During hunting season, deer smell human odors in the woods regularly. I know you can’t completely eliminate human odor as long as the body breathes. But the more you use odor neutralizers and the more precautions you take to reduce odor, the less likely that you will spook a buck, even if he does smell you. I also am not certain that we totally understand wind currents and how a deer smells odor. When I hunted in Mexico a few years ago, I took all the precautions I could to neutralize odor. But I sweated profusely in the hot weather of early deer season. A nice-sized 8 point buck came near my stand site straight downwind from me along a fencerow. The wind blew in the buck’s direction. Because I was hunting late in the afternoon, my scent should have gone straight toward the ground and the buck as he passed less than 50 yards from me right into my scent trail. Why the buck didn’t stop, look for me or smell me, I’ll never know. But he walked right in front of my stand and turned broadside. I took him. All I could figure was that the deer had a broken nose, I’d eliminated enough odor, so I didn’t have a strong-enough smell to alarm him, or somehow the wind currents had changed or moved between me and the buck and prevented my odor from reaching the deer’s nose.

Consider moon phases:

I really don’t like to hunt the day following a full moon. Although I’ve seen several studies and records from some hunting lodges indicating moon phase has absolutely no effect on whitetail deer movement, I’ve always believed deer move more on nights with a full moon and less on nights with no moon. However, I really never have kept up with moon phases and their effects on deer. The most important factor affecting when I hunt is when I can get time off to hunt.

Click here to go back to part two, tips for taking whitetails in snow and rain. Click here for part four to learn about hunting pressure and how warm weather impacts whitetails.

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