Trees blow in a field on a very windy day

The Impact of Wind Speed & Direction on Deer Hunting

Wind speed and direction both have a profound impact on deer movement and behavior, and therefore deer hunting. Let’s dive deeper so you can understand what kind of weather is best for deer hunting as well as how to use wind to your advantage.

Why Do Wind Speed & Direction Impact Deer Hunting?

Deer use their keen sense of smell to pick up on the scent of predators blowing through the breeze.

Maybe that’s why in a study from PennState College of Agricultural Sciences, it was found that at speeds up to 12 MPH, “for both males and females, deer move MORE during a windy day, but they’ll move LESS during a windy night!”

Deer are also territorial animals that scent and mark their habitats.

All in all, wind has an important role to play in how Deer perceive and respond to the world around them. This is important because to set yourself up for success during the hunt, you need to understand how and when deer move so you can be where they are.

What Are the Ideal Conditions for Deer Hunting?

Traditional wisdom dictates that Deer move less on windy days overall. But as the results of the above study notes, that’s not entirely true. Realtree backs up these results, noting that “Anecdotal data, personal observation, and research from Penn State all suggest bucks move more when the breeze is blowing”.

So days with no wind may make the hunt a bit more difficult.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Is there any merit in the traditional wisdom that says not to hunt on windy days? Yes, however, there are many other factors at play such as temperature, barometric pressure, and time of the year to factor into the hunt.

Hunting Manual puts it best: “Note that when the wind blows at a speed higher than 15 mph, it would impact the deer’s movement. However, if the speed exceeds 30 mph, it would put a halt to all of the deer’s activities.”

Some hunters believe that days with winds between 5-15 MPH are ideal for hunting deer.

So, How Much Wind is Too Much Wind for Deer Hunting?

Because wind speeds of over 15 MPH impact deer movement, speeds over 15 MPH are often considered too much for deer hunting. That having been said, it’s still possible to hunt deer at speeds above 15 MPH, it’s just a lot more difficult to do.

On especially windy days (with wind speeds over 30 MPH), deer generally bed down. Therefore, although it may be more difficult to hunt on days with 15+ MPH winds, it is likely that it will be next to impossible to hunt on days with 30+ MPH winds.

What’s the Best Wind Direction for Deer Hunting?

People often ask questions like “Is a South wind good for deer hunting?”...”How about a North wind?”. The truth is that compass direction is less important than whether or not deer are downwind or upwind of you.

The cardinal rule when considering the best wind for deer hunting is this: keep deer upwind of you. Dave Hurteau for Field and Stream puts it this way:

“No matter how good a deer’s nose is, it can’t smell you unless the wind carries your stinky scent particles to its nose. In other words, whitetail deer can’t bust you unless they are downwind—and as long as you know which way the wind is blowing, you can use that to your advantage.”

How Can I Determine Wind Direction When Hunting?

Many people choose to use an any standard weather app. But what’s the best wind app for hunting?

There are several good wind and weather apps you can use to help you learn how to hunt the wind for deer, including but not limited to:

  • DeerCast
  • HuntWise
  • Wind Direction for Deer Hunting - Deer Windfinder
  • ScoutLook Hunting app
  • Primos Wind

Prefer to do things the old fashioned way? You can rely on milkweeds or even a wet finger to determine wind direction, as The R&K Hunting Co. notes in “Deer Hunting: 6 Methods To Determine Wind Direction”.

If you feel more comfortable leaning on technology but don’t want to use an app, commercial wind detectors are another good tool for your hunting arsenal.

Attract More Deer with Tectonic

Looking to attract more deer during the daytime for an improved hunting experience? Learn more about our Daytime Deadfall Deer Feeder at Tectonic USA!