Winded By Bucks

John R. from West Virginia has been having a problem being winded by bucks. “I hunt a wooded hillside between a cornfield and bedding area. There is a major deer trail about one-fourth of the way down from the top of the hill and it parallels the top of the hill and the stream at the very bottom. I’ve got several stands along this trail. My job prevents me from hunting afternoons so I bowhunt here in the mornings. I cannot come in from the top because there is a field and I’ll spook deer if I come in that way. So, I come up the stream bottom, then cut up the hill straight to the stand I’m hunting that morning. It’s a great trail and I’ve seen several really good bucks using it. However, many times deer will spook when they get near my stand. What do you think is the problem?”

Dr. Dave Samuel

John, your situation is not all that unusual. Let’s consider the wind. In the morning, early, cool air descends the ridge. But as soon as daylight arrives, the air heats up and thermals start to move up the ridge. As this warm air rises it will carry your scent from where you walked, and where you sit to the deer. Even if you put your stand above the trail, the scent trail you left walking in will get you.

Thus, unless you can walk to the stand from a direction where your scent won’t reach deer coming from the fields to their beds — you really can’t hunt this location in the morning. One other quick point on stand location. A general rule of thumb is that hunting ridge tops is easier relative to understanding the wind. In other words, you can get away with hunting ridge tops easier than ravines.

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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