This world is full of things an outdoorsman will never know, and just one of them is how many times a waiting bowhunter will have a trophy buck or even a small doe catch his or her scent and ghost away to safer climes.  But I suspect it happens often.  Too many archers don’t really believe that a whitetail can smell them literally a half mile away, so they pay less attention than they should to wind direction and miss out on deer after deer.

Sure, many of us give scent plenty of thought.  We dose our clothing with cedar tree, apple, even fox, or deer scent, and wash carefully before each hunt with special soaps that supposedly kill all human odor.  But I strongly believe that such scents and preventatives work only for about the first 50 feet heading toward that blind.  Then your pores open up, you start to sweat, and human odor leaks from your face, coat sleeves, etc. to make you smell like a human who’s been wallowing in cedar shavings.

The only way to keep deer from smelling you and heading elsewhere is to not let them smell you.  Then you can skip bathing for a week, smoke, chew home-made tobacco, do what you will with no repercussions.  I’ve mentioned before that the higher you place your tree stand, the better.  And that’s true, at least when you’ve a steady breeze blowing in a direction that probably has no deer nearby, a picked soybean field, open grass, or farm buildings.

But what do you do when the wind, usually out of the west and with your tree stand placed with that direction in mind, turns east?  Or south or north?  It might be blowing right into a prime bedding area or across a route they’re taking to and from a feeding area.  So, you’re just wasting time that day unless you get lucky and a dog, farmer, or whoever flushes one from an unusual direction.

One partial answer to that problem is to build several tree stands with various wind directions in mind, and pick your spot when you arrive according to the needs of the moment.  But even then the winds can change.  How many times have you sat up there with a soft breeze or a stiff one right in your face, only to have it change in an hour or two to quartering or even the opposite direction?  And again, send your scent to where it shouldn’t go.  Most archers will shrug their shoulders and tough it out when that happens.  The smart ones will climb down and move.

If there’s a really tough time to hunt it’s when there’s sunlight and the winds are light and variable.  A situation like this can be a nightmare.  Anyone who’s studied weather knows that warm air rises and cool air sinks, and that wooded area you’re hunting has a bit of everything from sun to shade.  A light breeze can cross a brightly sunlit area and rise a little, then pass a cool, shaded creek and fall, then move here and there according to little whims of vagrant gusts, and the final result is that your scent is in ALL directions and the most you’re likely to see and hear that day is snorts and waving tails.

If there’s an answer, it’s that you’ve got to be willing to move according to circumstances, and the people who will do that best are crossbowmen.  Archers seldom do well on the ground, even in a blind, because they’ve got to draw that string and deer too often see the movement.  A crossbowman is shooting a gun with a very long bullet, and can move here or there as winds decide, stay low, even lie flat behind a log if necessary.  So, if you’re an archer, build several stands and change as needed.  If a crossbow hunter, just pay attention to wind direction.  Your chances of bagging a big one should increase astronomically.

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