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Why Whitetail Rut Action Picks Up on Windy Days

by Scott Bestul

“A stiff breeze is the kiss of death for hunting on most days,” says Tim Walmsley, who saw 22 bucks on a recent high-wind hunt. “But during the rut, I make sure I’m in the woods on a blustery day. Big deer will be moving.”

Chaos Theory
Why would a rocking wind get bucks rolling? “I don’t claim to understand it completely,” admits Walmsley, an Illinois bowhunter with a wall full of trophies. But he has a couple of ideas. “First, high winds typically usher in a cold front following hot weather, offering physical relief for deer. Second, pre-estrous does tired of being harassed by bucks figure they can escape their suitors more easily when wind covers their movement and noise, so they’re up and about. Bucks start catching whiffs of doe scent all over and run around trying to find the females. This builds on itself until you get a kind of chaos.”

Meanwhile, gusty conditions make it easier for hunters to go undetected. “Deer can’t hear or spot your movement as easily, so you can sneak into more sensitive areas without getting nailed,” Walmsley says. “Also, I don’t think deer can smell you as well as they can in a steady, moderate breeze. They may get whiffs of your scent, but they can’t pinpoint you.”

Get Closer
You, however, can pinpoint them, because windy-day bucks tend to end up in predictable places. “They head to a valley, bowl, creekbottom, dense timber, or the lee side of a hill,” Walmsley says. “Many of these areas are almost impossible to hunt under normal circumstances because light breezes are fickle there. But when the wind is pushing hard in one direction, I head straight toward these spots.”

He listens to a radio to learn when the wind will hit. “As soon as it does, I pile out of my stand and nearly run to get closer to protected bedding cover, expecting bucks will move. I settle in until the action stops or I stop a buck.”   

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