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Workin' the Wind

PhotoBy Kyle Schwabenbauer

-- My success as an archery hunter has sometimes been as unpredictable as a bottomland breeze.  There have been days when all the pieces came together and I actually believed I had "figured things out."  There have also been days when, despite paying close attention to the smallest detail, my hunt was foiled by a chance event beyond my control. Although this inconsistency can be frustrating at times, it's just a natural element of our sport and part of what makes a successful day afield so rewarding.  

Of all the variables that can ruin a whitetail hunt, the wind is at the top of my list. Not just because a deer's sense of smell is among the keenest on the planet, but also because the wind is a factor that is difficult to predict prior to a hunt. However, treating the wind as an asset instead of a liability is a strategy that can pay off big. A concept called "The Magic X," which is featured on the Tink's website (, describes how hunters can do just that.     

The next time you're scouting for a place to hang your stand, pay attention to the prevailing winds in relation to the direction of the deer trails. Look for a trail that runs perpendicular to the direction the wind usually blows. The wind and the deer trail should form an "X" at their point of convergence.

For example, if the prevailing wind is blowing from the west, find trails that travel north and south. Once you've located these trails, look for trees with good cover that are downwind from the trails. Setting your stand on the downwind side of these trails will help limit your scent dispersal to the areas deer will be traveling. In addition, this set-up also helps minimize the chance of being winded if the prevailing breeze shifts slightly. 

The use of deer lures is widespread among archery hunters, but few give careful thought to the specific spot where they place their lures. Many will simply hang a couple of scent wicks at the bottom of their trees. While this may work in some situations, there is a more effective tactic when using deer lures.

Place the lure on the upwind side of the trail the deer will be traveling. The lure should be on the opposite side of the "X" from your treestand. If a deer approaches using the trail, it should smell the lure as it drifts downwind across the trail. However, the deer will not smell the hunter because the treestand is downwind of the trail. 

When placing deer lure, be sure to locate it so that it's visible from your treestand. Deer will often stop on the trail when they encounter the odor stream of the lure. If the lure is placed properly, deer may even turn away from the hunter to analyze the scent, which can provide an opportunity to draw your bow and take a shot. If the deer lure and treestand are positioned along the axis of the wind direction, the deer should also present a broadside or quartering-away shot angle.

As you're hanging treestands for next year's hunt, think about the wafting winds and how you can use them to your advantage. Workin' the wind is a strategy that whitetails have learned well, and it's a key element to their survival. For hunters, it would be wise to take notice and allow the wind to work in our favor. Good luck this season in getting the wind to work for you!

Kyle Schwabenbauer is on the PA Sportsmen Portal Field Staff. Visit for more information.

Editor's note: Click here to open Tink's "Magic X" illustration.

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