How Wind Affects Buck Deer with Dr. Robert Sheppard
Day 3: Dr. Robert Sheppard Explains What Thermals Are and How They Affect Deer Hunting
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.
Wind is generally directional to points on the compass. But thermals are usually air movements upward or downward. Most sportsmen who hunt mountainous regions are very familiar with the importance of thermals as they affect their deer hunting. However, outdoorsmen who hunt more-flat terrains don't give much thought to the effects of thermals. If you’re hunting on the side of a mountain that’s 2 miles from the bottom to the top, most hunters realize they want to be hunting the top side of the mountain in the morning, when the thermals are causing the air at the bottom of the mountain to rise to the top. Then they prefer to hunt at the bottom of the mountain in the afternoon when the thermals will cause the air at the top of the mountain to drift to the bottom. The general upward drift of air in the morning will take the hunter's scent up and away from the deer, and the general downward movement of the air in the afternoon will keep the hunter's scent close to the ground and away from the deer in the late evening. The flatland hunter has to deal with thermals as the mountain hunter does, but the thermals aren't as obvious. The air still usually rises in the morning and falls in the evening.
A bad situation to try and take a deer due to thermals occurring is when a hunter goes to his stand early in the afternoon when there’s little or no wind. Under these conditions, the hunter's scent will be forced straight-down the tree and spread-out in all directions. For deer to come within shooting range and not smell a hunter under these conditions is almost impossible. Another condition that is almost death for the hunter in search of a buck is to be in a tree stand late in the afternoon during a rain with no wind when the fog begins to be pushed close to the ground. This weather condition will make your scent hug close to the ground. The same situation prevails in any type of rainy weather that lasts all day with no wind. During those times, the best thing to do is either scout, try and stalk a deer or go home. One of my best tactics for hunting during no-win situations is to not go to my stand until 30-minutes before dark. I want to spend as little time as possible in that stand under these conditions, since the longer I sit in the stand, the more time I give my scent to spread all over the area.
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.