Wind Direction is just one of those things that can never be replaced in deer hunting.
When we walk into a pizza shop we smell the aroma of pizza, maybe french fries or even some feta cheese topping a salad. On the contrary, if a whitetail were to walk into a pizza shop, they would smell the tomatoes, oil, dough, cheese, basil and even the residual gasoline left behind on the delivery driver’s shoes, each smell completely separate from one another. A whitetails’ sense of smell is their main defense mechanism and yet we as hunters hold this belief that there is a magical equation to fooling a whitetail’s nose outside of wind direction. The fact remains, no matter how rigorous our scent control practices may be, or how effective our equipment’s ability to control scent, there is no substitute for wind direction when it comes to harvesting whitetail deer.
Every year we hear stories of the hunter smoking a cigarette, or the hunter who hurried to the stand still in their work clothes only to kill a record deer. Some may argue that it was dumb luck or just a fluke, but the fact remains there is no substitute for wind direction. When we look closer into the topic of scent control clothing and equipment that has flooded the hunting market we must be careful on our reliance upon such tools. We must view these new technologies only as a limited insurance policy and we cannot expect to live and die by these materials on our quest for whitetail deer.
To clarify, I am not stating that scent control practices don’t account for success, but if you utilize scent control practices in conjunction with playing the wind correctly, you only increase your odds. As hunters, we are constantly trying to stack the probability of success in our favor. We have hundreds of other details that we need to focus on that have to perform absolutely perfect in order to harvest our deer, hunting upwind isn’t something that I would jeopardize my entire strategy on.
There will be hunters who will argue that they completely disregard wind direction and will even purposely hunt upwind sometimes. Hunting upwind may work for a specific hunting scenario that allows the deer to be condition to human scent coming from a certain direction. On the contrary, in the vast majority of the whitetail woods, if a whitetail catches a whiff of human scent downwind from your stand, every deer and its mother is going to know your location.
If we take a look back at the lessons taught from our elders there has always remained one “cardinal rule,” always hunt downwind of your target. If we utilize todays scent controlling technologies with lessons learned from the past we only increase the potential for our success. There will always remain the cat and mouse game of hunter versus whitetail, and with the ever changing technologies in the hunting world we must remember that there is no substitute for wind direction.