Deer that spend most of their time in steep, rugged country have a decided advantage over hunters, whether the land is private or public. Whitetails position themselves to watch ridges and hillsides while using their nose to monitor winds and thermal currents that swirl into every nook and cranny to reveal warning scents.
When high winds blast through steep terrain, however, hunters can increase their odds by sneaking onto hillsides sheltered from the worst winds and setting up downwind of the deer’s suspected bedding or approach sites. This tactic works throughout autumn, and provides a great reason to get out of bed on days most hunters stay inside.
An added advantage is that deer struggle to hear and see danger on gusty days, which likely drives more of them to sheltered hillsides to escape the constant motion and relentless noise. A good friend of mine loves such days when hunting the steep, towering bluffs of a state park in northwestern Wisconsin. “I once thought it didn’t pay to hunt on windy days, but the more I hunted those bluffs and hollows, I smile whenever those 40-mph winds shake acorns and cedar fronds from the trees,” he said. “I study the wind forecasts, dig out my topo maps and find sheltered pockets on the hillsides.
“I sometimes have to chase my friends out of the shack on the windiest days, but we usually see more deer on those days than at any other time. We just get in there and sit tight.”