How much wind is too much wind for deer hunting? That is a big question and there are a few answers involved some of which may surprise you.
In general, a wind that is stronger than 15 miles per hour is too strong for deer hunting. Wind affects many aspects of deer hunting, especially deer behavior.
Scent and Sense of Smell
Wind over 15 MPH limits how effective the sense of smell can be. Strong winds carry many scents, and from many directions making it more difficult for deer to track predators and danger.
That may sound like a good situation for deer hunters, but it is not great news.
Wind over 15 MPH means that deer generally change their behavior. Rather than foraging or traveling deer tend to hunker down and move as little as possible during the day.
They continue to move at dawn and dusk, but they may not trace the same routes.
During this process, deer rely more on their sense of sight. If you are a deer and traveling through new territory, you might miss a predator, which increases the danger to yourself.
On the other hand, if you stay in one location or move only vaguely through the landscape you begin to recognize small changes within the environment that can signal a predator approaching.
Location and Traveling
Hunters try to learn the route that deer take so that they can set up stands and wait for the deer to come to them.
When the wind is blowing more than 15 MPH or sometimes when there is no wind at all, deer change how they travel and where they go.
What that means is that high wind can make the stand you carefully installed on an active deer trail ineffective.
There is also the fact that regardless of wind, deer move during dusk and at dawn. If there is high wind out, and you are not finding deer, change the time you hunt and make it early or later so that you are catching those deer that travel when it is safest for them to do so.
The Effect of Wind on Bullet Trajectory
At closer distances, the wind has less effect on bullet trajectory. Even a wind speeds of one meter a second, wind can move a bullet around 4 inches off course.
The farther the bullet travels the greater the force wind applies and the more the bullet strays off its course. What are we talking about in numbers?
At 1,000 feet, wind can cause a bullet to move off course by as much as 32 inches. The wind has a negative impact on hunting and round accuracy.
If you are choosing to hunt in windy conditions, then you need to get as close as possible to your target to make the shot as accurate as possible.
How Do you Hunt In the Wind?
One of the first things you will need to do if you hunt deer in the wind is to forget about the stand you’ve set up and start walking.
You are not likely to see deer from your stand in windy conditions. Instead, start hiking. Go slow and walk into the wind.
The wind in your face means that the sounds you make are traveling backward and away from you. Your scent is also blowing away from you.
Be sure to check your environment as deer are likely to hunker down during strong winds.
Check the tall grass and the fringe of wooded areas, both of which offer some shelter to deer from stronger winds.
Because wind affects the trajectory of bullets, you might consider choosing a bullet with higher accuracy and a flat-line trajectory.
Heavier rounds can also be more accurate in the wind, especially if they have less distance to travel.
Understand Deer Behavior in High Winds
Deer need to eat and rest regardless of the winds. Because many deer forage at night or during the early hours before sunrise and sunset, they tend to rest in the daytime.
In wind, that is even more so. Deer want to find shelter from the wind and remain safe.
Places, where shelter is near grazing, are key spots. Deer will shelter and feed and return to their shelter.
If you are hunting in high light (noon) then look for places where deer have access to forage, shelter, and water.
You can prep for your hunting adventure by checking maps of the area. You should be able to see the spots where wind force will be the least and where it will remain strong. In those areas where the wind force drops, you will most likely find deer.
Air Temperature Plays A Part Too
In the daytime, temperatures rise, and you may have better luck finding deer at higher elevations. As the day wanes and the intensity of the light begins to fall, the air cools, and it sinks.
During those times you will often find deer lower in the landscape. That means you should walk ravines in the late afternoon and ridgelines in the morning and early afternoons.
What Have We Learned?
One thing that we have learned is that wind does affect deer hunting. It isn’t so much that the deer disappear in the wind, but more that they change their behaviors during windy days.
We have also learned that wind does not affect when deer travel – they travel at dawn and dusk, regardless of the wind.
The wind is one factor that all animals must deal with, but for deer, they are safer traveling at dawn and dusk rather than in the middle of the night or middle of the day.
We’ve also learned that you have options for choosing the best round for windy days. Heavier bullets cut through the wind and because wind affects bullet trajectory, you tend to hunt at shorter distances on windy days.
Changing your round with one that has a flatter trajectory means less impact from the wind on accuracy.
Wind stronger than 15mph becomes more challenging but not impossible. However much more than 15mph may be too much for deer hunting.