How Wind Affects Buck Deer with Dr. Robert Sheppard
Day 1: How to Determine Wind Direction with Dr. Robert Sheppard
Editor’s Note: Dr. Robert Sheppard (www.bobsheppard.com) of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is a longtime avid deer hunter who approaches his deer hunting with the same intensity, quest for knowledge and scientific application of what he’s observed and learned, as he does the patients in his medical practice.
I was hunting a narrow strip of woods between a cleared field and a river. The area I was hunting was about 60-yards wide and about 400-yards long and separated two large hardwood bottoms. Because that small strip of woods ran north and south, the only way to approach the land without having my scent mess-up my hunting site was for me to walk in from the west, which was the river side, or the east, which was the field side. On this particular morning, I walked into this strip of woods from the east with a west wind in my face. Any deer moving through the woods wouldn’t pick up my scent, if they were walking either toward the south or the north. I got into my stand just at daylight and had been sitting for about an hour when I spotted a nice 6-point buck coming from the south side of the woods, moving north. The buck walked to within 15 steps of me and never picked-up my scent. I let my arrow fly and struck the deer just behind the shoulder. Immediately he bounded away and over the side of the bank. I found him on the edge of the river. I'm convinced that if the buck had smelled me, I never would have had the shot.
The deer's best defense against any predator is his nose. Many tree stand hunters will tell you that although a deer may be able to see you, he may walk-up, look straight at you and then walk-on past you as if you don't exist, if he doesn't smell you. This same group of hunters may tell you of instances where they've shot more than one arrow at the same deer, and the animals never have moved. But you rarely will find an instance when a deer has smelled a hunter and presented anything but a hindquarter shot. Many times a deer may be able to spot you or hear you – but you still may be able to take your animal. However, if he smells you, I'll lay odds that you'll never get a shot.
I methodically check wind direction through several different methods, before I finally enter my stand. The first thing I do every morning when I get up is to check my weather radio and see what the prediction for the wind direction is for that day. Each day I hunt, the wind dictates the choice of stands I have. I only will hunt out of the stands that face into the wind. I have 10- to 20-stand sites in the woods, which means I have a stand I can hunt from, regardless of the wind's direction, on any given day. Once I know the wind's direction, I begin to narrow-down my choice of stands. Another factor that’s added to the final decision of where I’ll hunt, besides wind direction, is how much time has passed since I've visited these stand sites. The two stand sites that I have hunted from the least in recent weeks will be my choices for the morning hunt. By depending on the wind, I have narrowed my choices from 20 sites to two.
To learn more about successfully hunting deer, purchase John E. Phillips’ books, “The Masters’ Secrets of Hunting Deer,” “The Science of Deer Hunting,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” and “Masters’ Secrets of Bowhunting Deer” at www.nighthawkpublications.com/hunting/hunting.htm.