Now you are all set to go for a hunt, you’ve got the hot spots marked on your GPS, you’ve got some feed faces and head guts to check and you’ve got your eyeballs adjusted so they can see deer. That leaves one really important factor to consider.
Often while I was hunting, I would think that the wind was deliberately trying to sneak up behind me and blow toward the most promising area I had seen all morning. There was no such Machiavellian plot. It is just a characteristic of wind in mountain terrain. Broken country will create varying wind directions and strengths. Try climbing into an exposed saddle after having a tail wind for a while and then have the prevailing wind attempting to blow you clean off the mountain.
We were choppering out of the Waterfall hut in the Dobson river after a very successful thar hunt when I realized the pilot was using the wind blasting up the Ben Ohau range to lift us up to the top. We were rocketing up seemingly within touching distance of the rock faces. You could see the tussock being flattened. Got to the summit in record time. The pilot said to me there was a downdraught at the head of Bush Stream, did we want to go down it. I said if he was willing to fly it I was happy to have the ride. What a thrill. We went down the side of the mountain at warp speed. It looked like we were going to crash into the river at the bottom of the face. I was terrified. Then, without any effort the draught shot us out into calm air with plenty of room to spare. It was a real demonstration of how mountain terrain affects wind patterns.
Wind should be a consideration when you are planning your hunt. I try to plan to have the predominant wind direction in my favour when I judge that the best opportunity for a shot is likely. Then just accept that you will have tail winds at some time during your hunt. Don’t sweat it, just keep hunting. The wind may just be fluking around a gully or spur and will be favourable soon. The wind in mountainous country is seldom consistent.
Deer very much rely on their noses to locate danger. And they have a very acute sense of smell. I have seen deer react to my scent hundreds of metres away. If you hunt with the wind from behind you your chances of getting a shot are reduced.
Another consideration is time of day. Early morning and late evening are times of greater deer activity so plan to maximize your hunting during these times. However, deer do not evaporate during the day so I consider that all times during the day are most acceptable for hunting. I can’t count how many deer I’ve seen on slips, in clearings, along creek beds and on grass river flats at all times of day.
In order to give me the best opportunity to get a shot I will plan on hunting all day and try to keep the wind in my favour.