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By Dwayne Norton
Heartland Hunters Pro Staff

It seems that all of us are trying to accomplish more in less time…work, take care of things around the house, spend time with family and yes, spend time in the deer stand. Owning my own business one would think that I can make time to hunt whenever I want…unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case. So when I get that chance to hunt, I often like to hunt my favorite stands, but only if the wind is right.

Scent control is one aspect of bowhunting I focus a lot of attention on. My hunting clothes are always stored in airtight containers, I continuously spray down with scent killer and never wear “street” clothes to the woods.   But with all of my scent control efforts, playing the wind is still critical. Yes, I’ve fooled the nose of down wind deer before, but I can tell you this is the exception and not the rule.

I don’t know about you but I don’t hunt the large tracts of land the celebrities on TV hunt. Where I hunt, if you spook a deer, they leave your property. Do that multiple times and they’re gone for good. In order to keep our property in top hunting condition for the entire season we have to prepare for every wind direction.

So, how do you hunt small acreage and not spooe deer? The first thing we do is take a look at an aerial photo and pick stand areas that allow for undetected entry and exit routes. Unfortunately, sometimes we look at a map and point to a spot that we really want to hang a set, however, once we get to the location, we realize that it will be impossible to hunt or get in and out of undetected. It does more harm than good to force a hunt in an area that results in educating all the deer in the area.

The tracts of ground we hunt are typically 50 acres or less consisting of wooded draws, brushy/wooded areas and open pasture. Our goal is that every time we hunt we are undetected from the time we leave the truck until we return. For every stand site we have a predetermined entry and exit path. If we aren’t comfortable we can travel undetected we either look for another route or move the stand to a new location with a better access route.

Even though the typical wind direction for our fall hunts is out of the west we strategically place stands to accommodate every wind direction. We let the wind dictate every sit. We have some really good stands for west winds, but some of our best are stands that require an east wind. Unfortunately, I may wait all season for just one sit in those east wind stands and you can bet that when we finally get an east wind, nothing will keep me out of those stands.

When I look back at all the deer I’ve taken I can identify that the one key element to the hunts was the fact that we hunted the wind. There was no hunt more evident of this than my bowhunt in Kansas this past year.

Last spring we took another look at our stand sites in Kansas. We determined that we did not have enough west wind stands. We identified some locations on the east side of a 40 acre piece that was made up of brushy, short, crooked trees with small open grass areas….wonderful deer habitat that allows them to bed and is located in the middle of row crops on all 4 sides making food easy to obtain. Great deer habitat, but not the best area for an abundance of eligible stand trees. After finally finding one possible tree in the north east corner we hung the stand and prepped it to hunt.

Even though we just hung a stand in an area that would accommodate a southwest wind, we were still unsure of its potential but we knew it was another great option. But how would we get to it? To offer us the safest access to this stand we would need to walk from the east across a large row crop field.

We were ready…stand was set, limbs and shooting lanes trimmed, and entry and exit lanes determined. It’s the middle of October and work had allowed me to take a long weekend and hunt Kansas. The first night we had a southeast wind I hunted the new set. It was a great night as I had small bucks and does pass within range, none of which winded me

The next night was again a wind out of the southwest. I’m not one for over-hunting a stand…especially with back to back sits…but I was very sure I was totally undetected the night before. So I decided to give it another try and off to the new stand I went. After the long walk in I was ready for another great afternoon in a stand.

The wind was perfect for another low impact hunt. As we approached the magical hour…last hour of shooting time…I decided I would finish the evening hunt on my feet in order to be even more prepared for a shot. I figured the best opportunity would probably come from the west thru the corner of woods. So as I stood facing that direction with the wind in my face I began to hear something walking up from the south behind me. I could tell it was a deer but it hadn’t cleared enough of the limbs and brush for me to be able to tell what it was.

As I continued to look over my left shoulder the deer finally gets close enough that I can tell it’s a really nice buck that we have numerous game camera pics of. Now keep in mind, this buck has approached from behind me with the wind in my face. I’m already standing and ready, but I have no idea what this deer will do when he gets down wind of me. As he gets directly behind me he gets just enough scent to stop him in his tracks. The buck turns, goes south about 10 yards and turns to the west. My stand is located in a fence row and when the buck jumps the fence south of me and takes a couple more steps he is in the open about 12 yards from me. After carefully placing my site pin and releasing the arrow, a great shot was made and all that was left was the recovery.

What a great evening…I had just shot my biggest buck ever. But this wasn’t even the stand I had hoped to hunt that night. However, it was the best stand given the southeast wind. We all hang stands that are our favorites and we can’t wait to hunt. But I am a firm believer that hunting those stands only when the wind is right is the best thing you can do to put the odds in your favor and not prematurely burn out a set.

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