In the past 39 hunting seasons I’ve learned a thing or two about chasing mature whitetails with a stick and string. Never stop gathering intel, especially if you want to master the game. All lessons learned are valuable, but every once in a while you come across a real “jewel”, that changes the game. For me, one such gem was when I quit hunting winds that were good for me and started focusing on the wind direction that was good for the buck I was hunting! Yes, I intentionally hunt winds that are in the bucks favor, not mine.
Think about it for a minute. Mature deer live and die by their nose. They trust their sense of smell above all other. If a big old buck is going to move during daylight he will be using the wind, why not take advantage of that fact. What better way to ensure he’s comfortable enough to move before dark than giving him the wind direction he needs to feel safe? When I began looking for stand sights that enabled me to get within bow range of a buck while he was using the wind to his advantage, my success on giant bucks changed dramatically!
This new strategy didn’t come without its own set of obstacles though and I actually created a new set of problems for myself. First, these prime locations are not the easiest to find. It takes some scouting and the ability to read the sign, but these “weak spots” are out there. Areas where the terrain forces a deer to move through a specific spot or make an abrupt turn are great places to start. Funnels, bottlenecks, fence or creek crossings and even roads are other great examples of spots worth investigating too. Any place where a big deer has to compromise the wind and lower his guard momentarily is what you are looking for. One of my favorite examples of these kill spots is when a big buck walks perpendicular to a field edge, with the wind blowing in from the field. Mature deer use these crosswind scenarios to scent check fields before entering. Once the reach a specific spot, usually associated with a signpost rub or territorial scrape, they turn directly into the wind to enter the field. A bucks vulnerability is his tendency to use the wind but his inability to smell in every direction simultaneously. This situation creates a very predictable scenario and a tree within bow range of this ambush site can be deadly.
Secondly, when you split hairs on wind direction you have to take your scent control to a whole new level. Giving a mature whitetail the wind will put your regimen to the test, so you better cover all your bases. I try to be as scent free as I can when I enter the woods, but hanging an Ozonics above me in the tree covers everything – me, my gear, my breathe and anything I missed. It’s an added layer of protection I will not hunt without anymore. It’s also vitally important to continuously monitor your scent stream with a wind indicator. When a slight change in wind direction can be the difference in success or failure, it’s important and easy to adjust the Ozonics unit accordingly throughout your hunt. Using an Ozonics has actually enabled me to use a big bucks best line of defense against him. It has truly been a game changer.
Few challenges in the outdoors can rival the chess match you play with a mature whitetail. I’ve not experienced anything like playing the game with a cagey old buck. If you find yourself after a specific animal, you owe it to yourself to spend the time scouting for his weak spot. You might have to burn a little shoe leather to find it, but it’s out there. Once it’s found and your stand is in place, if you have the discipline to wait for the right wind for him, I guarantee you’ll increase your chances for success.
Just don’t forget your Ozonics!