Hunters will often tell you that deer tend to lie down when it’s windy, especially in the fall, when the rustling red, yellow, and orange leaves can sound louder than crashing waves as they blow in the wind. But how much wind is too much for deer hunting?
Generally speaking, anything above 15 mph is enough to make deer hunting harder. Since bucks tend to be more skittish than does, the effect of a strong wind is stronger on them. It also matters in terms of where you are in relation to the deer.
If the deer are downwind of you, they may catch your scent much farther out than they would have otherwise. While there isn’t much evidence in support of deer going to ground on windy days, experienced hunters say that they do. In its own way, that’s significant evidence.
How Much Wind is Too Much for Deer Hunting
Unless they are downwind of you, a strong wind has a negative impact on a deer’s sense of smell, making it more difficult for them. This makes them warier and less likely to move around a lot or take risks.
Unless they are really hungry, foraging is out of the question, and deer are more likely to just chill in a small area or hunker down, refusing to move much, if any. If they do move, they will stick to routes they know well and are more comfortable with.
High winds ruin new and active deer trails
If you scouted the day before, found a relatively new trail, and set up a deer stand or a blind nearby, you may have wasted your time, at least for today. If it’s a new trail, deer will stick to their tried and true routes, avoiding the new one they may have made over the last week or so.
High winds and a deer’s hearing
There is some speculation that high winds, especially in certain conditions (like dry leaves blowing on the ground), affect a deer’s ability to hear well. With its nose already suffering the consequences of high winds, the loss of hearing is certainly going to lower a deer’s desire to move about.
There are several factors at play here. While some of it is purely speculation, much of that speculation comes from seasoned hunters that probably know more about deer behavior than most scientists.
The rest is just common sense. Deer are prey animals. When something reduces their ability to hear and smell, it makes sense that their already keen sense of danger and skittishness would increase.
Hunting strategies in different wind levels
While wind has an effect on bullet trajectory, that’s not something you have to worry about too much. For the most part, you won’t be shooting that far in high winds anyway.
One of the first things you should do is avoid the tree stand or the shooting house altogether. The deer aren’t going to come to you so you will have to go to them. Make sure you walk into the wind. Walking with it will carry the noise you make to anything within hearing radius, along with any scent.
Deer love to hunker down in tall grass and baby pines. They love baby pines all year-round but especially when the wind is really kicking into high gear. Place where there is plenty to eat and forage or small bodies of water are ideal places for deer who want to avoid the wind.
If you can, look for areas where the wind is blocked—in other words, areas that are much calmer, such as shallot gulleys or the depressions between rolling hills.
Just because the wind is blowing doesn’t mean the day is over with. There are still some options on the table, it will just be you that does the majority of the walking, rather than the deer.
Deer are simply warier in windy weather, which makes sense because it has a direct effect on two of their senses—hearing and smell. They’re likely to stay in their favorite spots and only venture out on familiar, well-established trails.
New foraging and traveling trails will be abandoned for the time being. If you just set up a new food plot or salt lick, you shouldn’t expect much action on days when the winds are high. For now, at least.
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