Hunt the wind and understand what elements affect it in order to optimize your crossbow hunting setup.
Some of the best advice I ever received was from a fellow crossbow hunter one day while shopping for a new scent eliminator. It was simple and to the point, “hunt the wind”. When it comes to crossbow hunting no truer words have ever been spoken. Scent eliminators are great but they can never get you 100% scent free. Cover scents work as well but no matter how natural they are, deer can still detect something in the area that isn’t native. Even hunting the wind isn’t fool proof, but it will give you the best opportunity to get within crossbow range.
That being said, hunting the wind isn’t as easy as it sounds. Not many us hunt flat, wide open planes that are free of wind variations. Most of us hunt on angled terrain, thick brush, or near water. All these different elements affect wind patterns and can put you at risk of an animal winding you. However, if you understand wind and the elements that effect it you will be able to place your setup in an optimal situation no matter what the weather throws at you.
Buildings – Barns, Houses, and other man-made structures deflect wind and cause it to shear off on either side of the object. This is important as most game animals are often unfazed by the presence on buildings and these structures could provide nearby stand locations that are sheltered some prevailing winds.
Water – Streams, rivers, and lakes provide a direct channel for wind to flow. In thick brush where wind swirls you will be able to use these water ways to give anidea of which way the wind is actually blowing.
Open Woods – The prevailing wind will seek the path of least resistance and therefore wide gap in an open wooded area will be the source of the majority of wind flow.
Low Spots – Ravines and gullies are one of the major wind changers and have to be taken into consideration. When wind drops into a low spot it will swirl around before emerging in any given direction. These areas are attractive to animals because it keeps them out of sight but their unpredictability make them difficult to hunt.
Thick Woods – A point of dense timber can cause wind currents to diverge, separate and swirl.
Mergers– Game animals quickly learn to take advantage of areas where two or more wind currents will meet. This allows them to quickly scent check a large area for danger and provides a safe haven. You can use these areas to your advantage by setting up off them and waiting for the animals to come through and check the wind.
UP Slopes – Significant terrain changes have the greatest influence on wind. On a steep up hill slope the wind will continue blowing your scent straight over the top for about the same distance as the hills elevation while gradually falling.
DOWN Slopes – On the downward side of the hill wind currents drop and swirl back toward the opposite side of the slopes. This causes a vacuum of swirling air which makes crossbow hunting in these locations difficult.