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Hunting by the wind, the key to bow hunting success

By Staff
Oct. 19, 2001
Many years ago I met the first serious bow hunter I had ever known. I had just joined a hunting camp in Hawgeye, which is located somewhere between Porterville and Blackwater up in Kemper County. We had gone up to the Okabosh camp that weekend for a cooking at the Watson Camp.
John and Joe Watson owned the camp house where the club was headquartered. John was well known for his cooking abilities, especially cooking a whole hog. Anyway, we were there for some fine eating and to get together for fellowship among some of the members. David Speed was the accomplished bow hunter whom I would meet on that unforgettable night.
Just as we were all ready to sit down to eat, David came in. It was well after dark. By the looks and sounds of things he was pretty shaken. "I need some help with a deer," exclaimed Speed excitedly. "I've got a big one down
and I can't get him loaded by myself." Now that was pretty hard for me to believe since this was one of the biggest, strongest hunters I had ever seen. Well, it turns out he was right! Speed had killed a big-bodied 8-point buck with an arrow that had found its mark.
I thought that I knew a lot about deer hunting until I met Mr. Speed. Of course, I had never bow hunted before, despite killing a great number of deer with a rifle. Turns out there's a whole lot of difference between getting close enough to kill a deer with a bow and close enough for a rifle. Bow and rifle hunting both present their own problems and rewards. However, everything must be perfect to bow kill a nice buck once he gets within 20 to 30 yards of your stand.
Wind direction critical to success
Over the course of the following years I learned a thing or two from Speed. I would pepper him with questions ever chance I got. Perhaps the most important thing that I learned from being around him was a lesson about the wind direction. Without fail he would always determine which way the wind was blowing before deciding which stand to hunt. I had never before heard of anybody who did that. Most of the time we just went to our stand without regard to wind or temperature conditions. If the wind was wrong for one stand he would go to another one he had placed just for that wind direction.
More often than not Speed would come back with tales of seeing deer, if he didn't kill one that day. Usually he would pass up does and smaller bucks while waiting on the old dominant buck. Like the big 8-point that got my attention, it always seemed like he would get a nice buck or two every season with his bow.
I can honestly say that my hunting luck changed drastically after using his hunt-by-the-wind technique. Almost every time that I went against my first instinct and still-hunted with the wind blowing in the wrong direction, I would have deer smell me and the game would be over.
Another important tip that I learned from Speed was to wear either rubber bottomed or knee high rubber boots to keep the human scent off the ground while walking to the stand. I don't care how careful you are, the deer will smell where you have walked if you don't have on rubber boots.
Hunters would do well to take note and wear rubber boots while hunting by wind direction when bow hunting for the wary white-tailed deer. Of course another thing that will aid in keeping scent down would be to wear some of the new camouflage that is designed to keep your scent from escaping through the clothes. One of the scent-lock systems has a carbon charcoal lining that will absorb much of your body scent. However, when it comes down to it, hunting downwind from the direction that the deer travel will be the closest thing to a sure bet when it comes to getting within range of a wary old buck!