The first thing I do before I plan a hunting trip is look at the weather. Temperature, barometric pressure, humidity and the two words that I consider curse words "moon phase," are all displayed on the report. Aside from high temperatures, the scariest thing I can see is winds in excess of 20 mph. Personally, the wind and I during hunting situations have never meshed well. Like a deer, I feel my senses become dull, particularly hearing and seeing. Every tree, bush, and blade of grass blowing and leaves rustling like footsteps of an approaching deer have me on sensory overload! Today was one of those days and I didn't even attempt to go to the woods (of course I'm sure when I check my Bushnell Trophy Cam the bucks will have had a field day under my treestands). But that wasn't because I just gave up, but rather read some hunting articles on deer movement and wind, as well as verified some research myself.
It's no surprise that many Pope & Young bucks are harvested during late October through November. The rut is firing up in many areas of the country, and bow hunters are heading to the woods to take advantage of this magical time. But high winds can suppress deer movement even during the rut.
Outdoor writer James Nelson wrote a short piece for Outdoor Life.com. In the article, he discussed some of the ways deer CAN be affected by wind. But one section of the article really stood out. Nelson stated, "After checking more than 100 Pope & Young records of 170+ (inch) bucks against weather conditions 8-12 hours before harvest, I found that a tremendous amount were taken after a wind of at least 30mph had dropped to 10mph." This is a classic sign of a major cold front, and there are plenty of other factors that could be play into the resulting harvest of so many GIANT bucks. However, typically when a major cold front blasts through high winds can last 24-48 hours, so when the winds finally do die down deer are ready to move.
Although a buck's senses may be already dulled during the rut; his objective's (the doe) are sharp. Have you ever watched a mature doe's actions from the stand during high winds? She is one of most skittish creatures on the face of the Earth! In fact, last season, I was fortunate to see just that. I had a doe approach my stand at 5:45PM on public land during winds in excess of 25mph. It took her nearly 40 minutes to cover a 50 yard distance! Every step she took, her ears were turning to pick up sounds, head was on a swivel searching for movement and nose was frequently straight up in the wind current searching for a foreign scent. Fortunately, I was patient and kept the tree I climbed between her and me until I could pull off a double-lung shot at 22 yards.
So where is this all going? As soon as those winds fall off get into the stand! I always tell people you can't kill them if you aren't out, but if you want to try and pick an opportune time – this is it.