Video: Public Land Bowhunter Tags Big Whitetail Buck Despite High Winds

Do you skip bowhunting whitetail deer on those days when the wind is blowing 25 mph or more? If so, that could be a mistake.

Video: Public Land Bowhunter Tags Big Whitetail Buck Despite High Winds

Many hunters mistakenly think mature whitetail bucks won’t travel during high winds. In the 13-minute YouTube video below, Jason Campbell proves this isn’t the case.

Campbell is on public land in Indiana — property he’s never visited before — and while he initially planned on scouting this day, the buck sign was so fresh and large that he quickly hangs a portable treestand and then settles in to wait on a whitetail. As he explains, the area is under a high-wind advisory, but due to the date — November 1 — he knows that a mature buck could be on his feet during daylight, regardless of the conditions.

Timing is everything when it comes to tagging a mature buck, and Campbell understands it pays to strike fast when the odds tilt in your favor. This is especially true on public land. High winds likely kept some other hunters home, giving Campbell the woods to himself.

It appears Campbell is hunting a hardwood island or peninsula surrounded by cattails. I’ve learned through experience that cattails provide perfect security to deer of all sizes and gender, including mature bucks. One benefit to bowhunting near a cattail swamp is whitetails must leave the cover to feed — there’s no food in a cattail swamp. 

As you’ll see, the big buck is browsing on leaves and twigs, and he’s likely finding a few acorns, too. This buck might have been bedded within 100 yards of where Campbell placed his hang-on portable.

The author arrowed this big 5x5 in South Dakota on a day when winds gusted to at least 30 mph.
The author arrowed this big 5x5 in South Dakota on a day when winds gusted to at least 30 mph.

A few observations: 

  • Due to high winds, and perhaps available trees, Campbell placed his stand only 8 feet off the ground. On this day it would be dangerous to climb higher in a tree, and the winds would make an accurate shot quite difficult, too, because the tree would sway. Another benefit to climbing only 8 feet is the buck, which could have been bedded nearby overlooking the hardwoods, can’t skyline Campbell, which would certainly have been possible if he climbed 20 feet off the ground.
  • One of the biggest bucks I ever killed in 45 years of bowhunting took place on a windy day similar to the one shown in this video. I, too, was only 8 feet in a tree. I killed the big 5x5 whitetail on November 6 in a South Dakota river-bottom, and that buck was in hot pursuit of a doe in heat. She ran near my tree, and as he pursued her from 30 yards behind, I grabbed my bow, drew it as fast as possible and bleated loudly. He ignored it — in truth, he probably never heard it over the 30-mph winds. I quickly bleated a second time; no response. Having nothing to lose, I yelled “Hey!” The buck stopped, and I drilled him at 15 yards. He immediately ran after the doe and I thought I’d missed, but at 60 yards he stopped, looked for the hiding doe, and a split-second later he fell over.
  • The rut is the great equalizer when it comes to buck movement during daylight hours. I’ve experienced greatly reduced buck movement during the rut when the air temp is much higher than normal, but provided it’s cold, the wind doesn’t seem to be a limiting factor.
  • Speaking of air temps: Notice the snow coming down in the video? There’s likely a cold front pushing through, and in early November this can be a trigger for buck movement. Campbell was smart to hunt on this day after finding the hot sign.
  • High wind makes it more difficult for bucks to smell you. When wind is gusting to 25 mph or more, a whitetail has trouble pinpointing human odor. The buck in this video is the perfect example. Several times before Campbell takes his 12-yard shot, the buck catches a whiff of something he doesn’t like, but he can’t figure out the source of the smell. The big 5x5 I killed in South Dakota came from directly downwind of my location, but he never smelled me due to the gusty winds.
  • High wind makes it more difficult for bucks to see you. These hardwoods aren’t thick, and if conditions were calmer, the buck probably would’ve pegged Campbell in the tree much sooner. But the wind makes everything move, so Campbell is able to draw his bow. The buck finally spots Campbell in the low treestand, but the animal still isn’t sure what to make of him, and the strong wind covers the sound of the bow firing, too, which prevents the buck from jumping the string.
  • I’m not a fan of head-on shots at whitetails in most instances, but as you can see in this video, it works out well for Campbell. The buck is close — again, 12 yards — and Campbell’s treestand is low to the ground. Click here for an article I wrote about taking head-on shots on whitetails.

Congrats to Campbell on his Indiana bruiser. Any whitetail is an accomplishment with archery gear, and tagging a mature buck on public land is never easy.


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