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October 03, 2013
The Truth About Hunting Whitetails in Wind - 1
There’s a long-held belief that hunting whitetails in high wind is a waste of time. This conclusion is largely drawn from anecdotal evidence. Hunters don’t see as many deer when the wind is blowing, which must mean that there are fewer deer on the move, right?
Science disproves this. In a seven-year study, scientists at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Oklahoma found that there was very little change in the distance traveled by whitetails as a function of wind speed. For this study, deer were fitted with GPS collars and their movement was monitored every 15 minutes throughout the spring, summer, and winter. Whitetails tend to move most at sunrise and sunset, and the evidence from the Noble Foundation verifies that deer activity was highest at these times regardless of wind speed or direction. Wind affected deer movement in only a few instances. In fact, temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity all played a more significant role in deer movement than did wind.
This is not to say that wind didn’t affect the pattern of deer movement. In the Oklahoma experiment, changes in weather affected deer movement more during non-peak periods than they did during normal hours of crepuscular movement. But by and large, deer were moving at dawn and dusk regardless of wind speed.
This indicates that the old adage that deer “stop moving” during periods of wind is, for the most part, false. Deer are moving—you just have to know where to find them.
Rethinking Habitat Preferences
Wind limits a deer’s ability to detect predators, but perhaps more important, fighting heavy winds increases deer’s stress and caloric output when they are foraging and traveling. Therefore, in periods of high wind, deer change their pattern of movement to minimize their exposure to the elements and predators.
Hunters can capitalize on this tendency by focusing on areas that are sheltered from strong winds, particularly areas near bedding sites. In such cases, high winds may actually be a benefit if the hunter has scouted areas ahead of time and located those windy-day sanctuaries.
Here are some wind wise tactics:
1. Abandon the Stand
2. Understand Shelter
3. Map It
5. Understand Thermals