Use Natural Barriers to Stay Downwind of Whitetails

You can’t beat a deer’s incredible sense of smell, but you can increase your chance of getting a shot by using natural barriers to stay downwind of whitetails.

Use Natural Barriers to Stay Downwind of Whitetails

If a beginning whitetail hunter asked me, “What’s the most important deer hunting advice you’ve ever received?”, my answer would be short and sweet: Keep the wind in your face.

Of course, it’s not possible to keep the wind in your face 100 percent of the time in the whitetail woods due to terrain features, shifting winds, and a wide variety of other factors, but it’s advice worth remembering.

When it comes to placing treestands and ground blinds, you must set your ambush based on current wind conditions, or wait to hunt the spot until the wind is right. By “right” I mean that deer won’t smell you as they approach your ambush area, and they’ll be upwind, or at worse crosswind, when they step into your shooting lane.

One trick to ensuring whitetails don’t get downwind of your location is to set your stand with a natural barrier of some sort on the downwind side. I use the word “barrier” loosely because most times it’s really not a true barrier — like a cliff. Instead, by barrier I mean places deer typically avoid because the area is too open, such as a plowed field, or too difficult to travel, such as a pond, lake or river. Could a whitetail swim into a lake to get downwind of your deer stand? Sure, but it’s unlikely.

By placing a natural barrier on your downwind side, your human odor will pass over it, missing a whitetail’s keen sense of smell. Deer should appear upwind or crosswind of your location, and provided your ambush has decent cover, and you keep movement to a minimum, a deer should move by your location without busting you.

One final tip: At times you can use a natural barrier such as a lake or river to access your stand without alerting nearby deer. Details on this technique will be covered in a future how-to article.

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