I check the weather on the Web about eight times a day, usually, sometimes, although it has a more cluttered layout. I do this whether I’m able to hunt that day or not. I like to know what I’m missing. First I check wind direction, then speed. I can hunt almost any wind (if you detect the defensive smugness of a guy who owns no hunting land but compensates by rubbing his extreme mobility in your face, you’re reading me perfectly). Like most of us, I like some wind – say, 2-6 m.p.h. – better than none to keep scent from “pooling.” And I know the local deer don’t move much when it blows more than 10 m.p.h.

But the winds are so screwy where I hunt that I wonder why I check the forecast at all. My grounds are incised by steep ravines between narrow ridges, and I often set up in a saddle downwind of a crossing trail. (Incidentally, from the tracks I’ve seen in snow and wet leaves, the “expert” advice about deer being just like us and preferring the easiest route between points is just plain wrong. I see lots of evidence of deer taking the steepest route from one ridge to another. Maybe they read the magazines, too.)

Yesterday morning I set up 30 yards from a house. Although the forecast was for northwest wind, the air wafting steadily by my stand was from the southeast. Then, about 8 a.m., white smoke from a just-lit fire in the house’s woodstove began sluggishly puffing from the chimney. Obedient to the contrary rules of the universe, it came straight at me, swept along by the called-for northwest wind. There I sat, at nearly the same elevation at the chimney and just 90 feet away, watching my Wind Checker powder drifting in one direction and smoke going in the other.

I sat there until I realized the smoke was making me sick and then climbed down. I know that the forces at play in the atmosphere of this planet are unconcerned with indidivual humans, neither rewarding nor punishing us. But for just a second there, I wondered if I’d done something that really ticked them off.

If you know something I don’t, please tell me.