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Hunting Mature Bucks While Playing the Wind

by John Mueller 1. September 2010 13:07
John Mueller

It sounds easy doesn't it, set up downwind of where the big boy will show up and let the air out of him. But more times than not it doesn't end up being that easy. You may have to let a small buck pass before the big guy comes into range or those does may feed past your stand first. There are a lot things to consider when setting up to "Hunt The Wind" for a mature whitetail buck.

Hunting trails.
Hunting trails sounds like it would be a no brainer, set up on the downwind side of the trail. The problem is many times mature bucks will not use the same trails does and young bucks use. They will be on skinny, almost unseen trails running parallel to the main trails. So if you set up close to a main trail, you might end up upwind of the buck you are after and get busted. I try to find those little used trails with big hoof prints in them and set up close to where they go through heavy cover. That is where a big buck will feel most secure. Another good trail to hunt is one that cuts through a pinch point or goes around an obstacle like a steep ditch or pond. This will tend to push all the deer traffic past your stand. Plus it allows you to set up with the obstacle behind you, blocking any deer from getting downwind.

Hunting Food Plots
Just set up right where you have seen the big guy enter the field with the wind blowing across the field and he's as good as yours right? Not necessarily! What if a group of does or his 75" bachelor buddy get to the field before your buck? They will start blowing and stomping and you'll never see the one your after.
I like to set my stand away from the area the deer enter the food plot with the wind blowing into the woods behind me and wait for them to feed in my direction. You can sort of guide them by what you plant in the plot. Plant their favorite food in front of your stand, not where they enter the plot. This also increases the odds of shooting at relaxed deer. When deer enter a food plot they are usually very nervous, but after they have been there for a while and no danger has been spotted, they tend to relax. Shooting at a relaxed buck increases your odds of him not jumping the string and your arrow striking where it was aimed.
It also helps if you can have a big ditch or nasty thicket behind you so no deer slip downwind making their way to the plot.

Hunting Bedding Areas
Again, usually not as easy as it sounds. If your waiting in the morning for the buck upwind of his bedding area, you'll probably never see him. You can bet he's gonna scent check his intended bed from downwind before he enters his bed. What you can try is setting up just to the side of the downwind direction, hoping the wind doesn't shift slightly and give you away. But you also have to keep in mind as the ground warms, the thermals are going to start rising. So you need to take that into consideration before you set up in the dark with a good wind. If the thermals take your scent the wrong direction, the hunt is over. Setting up on the uphill side of his bed and the trail leading to it can help beat the morning thermals.
If you're going to try and catch that bruiser coming out of his bed in the afternoon you have the exact opposite thing happening with the cooling thermals. As the air cools it will decend and pool up in low areas. So you need to stay below the bedding area and any trails the buck might travel on in the evening.

So if it sounds like playing the wind while trying to connect on a Big Whitetail Buck sounds almost impossible, your right. By the time they reach trophy size, they know how to detect danger and how to use the rest of the deer herd to detect it for them. You not only have to fool the buck your after, but all of the rest of the deer your not interested in shooting also. Plus in my hunting experiances, deer rarely play by the rules. They are constantly showing up where you least expect them and that is usually downwind of my stand. That is precisely why I take every precaution with my scent that I can. I wash all my clothes in scent eliminating detergent, store them in scent free containers, spray down before every hunt and try not to touch any foilage on the way in to my stand. You can never be totally scent free, but you can do a lot to reduce your human odor in the woods.

You can check out all of the scent eliminating products available here on by clicking on the link below.

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