While the wind can be useful, many hunters believe it is much more important than it really is. So much so, that if it is a super windy day or a dead zero wind day, some hunters will not even go to their stand. So I took this small fact and investigated further to find the real truth about how wind affects deer movement and more specifically, how zero wind affects deer movement. Figuring out the facts instead of basing your entire hunt on what your Facebook friends claim is what really matters. The only way to become a better hunter is to hunt according to facts and not here-say.
Effects Wind Speeds Have on Deer Movement
When looking for answers to a topic that many hunters feel strongly about, it is important to look at the scientific research and not what your favorite TV hunter says. That being said, there have been many experiments done on this topic over the years, but the lack of available technology has limited our abilities in the past. So I looked at the most recent and reputable experiment I could find.
This experiment took place in 2013 at Pennsylvania State University by Dr. Duane Diefenbach and student Leah Giralico. They did a unique experiment that started by asking over 1,500 Pennsylvania hunters if they thought that wind speeds affected deer movement. The answer by over 90% of them was undoubtedly yes.
So the team captured 33 deer (25 does, 8 bucks) and outfitted them with GPS collars. Giralico then recorded their locations throughout the hunting season, only to find that these deer actually moved more on windy days than on calm days. She included rain in her study as well, to find that deer move more during rainy days as well. She also observed that the bucks moved more than the does on the same day.
When Giralico compiled the data, she had three categories for the wind,
- Calm – less than 1 mph
- Gentle – 1 to 15 mph
- Strong – 16 – 27 mph
Here are the graphs Giralico produced of her data:
So as you can see, with increased wind speed, bucks traveled more during days of strong winds than they did on calm days. It was actually a 100% increase in movement on rainy/windy days and on days of no rain and high wind it was about 30-40% increase in movement. Does saw about a 10% increase regardless of rain.
RELATED POST: HUNTING WHITETAIL IN THE RAIN
If you would like to read the research for yourself, you can check it out here on Penn State’s website: https://www.deer.psu.edu/blown-away/
There Is Never Zero Wind
If I had a choice, I would prefer to hunt days with 5-10 mph winds. Not because of deer movement, because of mine. If the wind is dead still, it can be challenging to conceal your movement in front of deer in situations like maneuvering your rifle or drawing back your bow. Although these days can be challenging, I will never miss out on a hunt just because of the wind.
Even if you are sitting in the stand and feel like the wind is absolutely dead still, there are still thermal currents carrying your scent if you do not control it properly. Wind is made when the ground is unevenly heated by the sun. The air is heated by the ground underneath it, causing it to raise up. The difference in air pressure causes nearby cold air to rush in to fill the void, creating another void where it came from and the loop goes on until the wind hits something.
Although if there is no wind, there are still thermal winds at play. A thermal is made when there is a pressure difference at higher altitudes. A thermal also has what is called a thermal column where air rises from the ground and is pulled into these higher altitude winds. Many times these winds will be pushed down closer to the ground. This is how whitetail deer are able to smell these winds and what they carry on days when the normal wind is not as strong.
How to Hunt Whitetail With High or Zero Wind
Hopefully, now that you have seen the data, you will not care about the wind as much in relation to whitetail movement. It may still suck to sit out in the wind on a cold day, but to conquer that problem, you can read my guide to staying warm on a cold hunt.
Nonetheless, the wind is not totally useless. You can sit in a certain direction and be downwind of the deer you are trying to hunt which will mask any sort of scent you may have, but you should not rely on this. I only use it as the last barrier in case my scent makes it through my scent control routine. This is because the wind is not always consistent. In the morning it may be blowing in your face, but lunch it could be blowing right on your back.
We all have that one friend that claims the hunt was going great until a monster buck stepped out and the wind changed at the last second, letting the buck smell him and get spooked. No Greg, it’s not the wind’s fault, you just haven’t showered in three days or used proper scent control for your clothes and equipment. What did he expect? Poor fictional Greg.
The Secret to Hunting Any Wind – Scent Control
Scent control is one of the most important aspects of whitetail hunting. You could rely on the wind to conceal your scent but that did not work for Greg, and eventually, it will not work for you. Take matters into your own hands, wash your gear!
People love to make scent control complicated but at its core, it is pretty simple. There are just a few key steps that you need to take:
- Showering in scent-free soap
- Washing your hunting clothes in scent-free detergent and keeping them sealed from the scent of your home
- Spraying non-washable items with scent-free spray (backpacks, boots, hat, etc)
- Not wearing your outer layers until you reach the hunting property.
- Giving your gear one last spray down with scent-free spray before waking to the stand
- Picking a strategic walk-in path that minimizes the chance of deer smelling your path.
- Not walking in any unnecessary areas
- Wearing a moisture-wicking bottom layer to absorb sweat
Just by using these small steps, you can eliminate most of your scent and probably do not have to worry about the wind all that much as an average hunter. There are plenty of advanced scent control and wind strategies out there but 90% of the time, the basics of scent control work just fine.
To wrap it all up, high wind days are not going to keep deer still. Shown by the research, deer will continue to move on windy days, and in this particular sample, their movement even increased. So you should never cancel a hunt just because of some high or dead zero winds. No matter what the wind is you will still have a chance at a buck if you use proper scent control techniques, and do the one most important thing for shooting deer, be in your stand.
Thank you for reading my article about deer hunting with zero wind. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something you didn’t already know. If you like my content, subscribe to my weekly update. If you have any other questions about hunting whitetail with zero wind or just want to connect, feel free to email me at Patrick.Long@omegaoutdoors.net.
Sister Post | Hunting Whitetail In The Rain
A sister post is another post that I have written that follows along with the same topic as the one you just read. I think that following this post, my post about hunting whitetail in the rain will provide a lot of value and may teach you even more about deer movement.
Benefits of Hunting Whitetail in The Rain
When it is raining, it is much harder for deer to single out specific sounds. With raindrops hitting everywhere, hearing becomes a secondary sense. The rain also messes with their ability to smell. Some say that rain helps a whitetail’s sense of smell… Keep Reading
Deer Movement In Rain
When it is raining, deer move differently. We also know that they are more likely to be moving throughout the day instead of just the mornings or evenings. The only way to kill a big buck is… Keep Reading