How to Beat the Wind

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Wind is one of the most crucial variables in any kind of big game hunting. It helps level the playing field between a hunter with a scoped rifle and the game animals being hunted. This is not novel information. Any hunter who has consistent success in the field knows this. I have tried a couple different techniques for keeping track of the wind. Here are a couple.

The most simple and obvious is to just stay cognizant of it. It is amazing how slight of a breeze you can sense if you just pay attention to it. However, there are methods that make wind direction slightly more obvious to the hunter.

The next most simple method is to just pick up some dusty soil and toss it into the air. The problem is that the perfect kind of soil for this isn't present everywhere. I have been in some places where there was no bare soil or the soil was to moist and it just wouldn't work. The nice thing about this method is that you don't have to carry any extra gear.

There are commercial products out there that will determine wind direction. Most of them are simple enough; they're normally a small squeeze bottle filled with a white powder that floats on the wind when sprayed into the air. You can easily make one of these by going to your local grocery store and getting yourself baby powder and a small plastic squeeze bottle.

Tooth floss can also be used as a good way to check wind direction. It can be tied to just about anything (rifle barrel, tree stand, backpack etc.) with a long trailing end hanging off. Another tool that most hunters already carry that can be used to check wind direction is a lighter. You can light a lighter and and watch the flame dance with the breeze.

With the sense of smell that most game animals possess, hunters need to be able to identify and keep tabs on wind direction. Use these methods to keep the wind in your favor.


I definitely agree that the

I definitely agree that the wind is the most crucial variable in any kind of big game hunting. It helps level the playing field between a hunter with a scoped rifle and the game animals being hunted. A very good information especially to new hunters out there.

arrowflipper's picture

always good

This is always a good tip.  I, like some others, didn't pay attention to the wind when I was a young hunter and boy did I pay the price.  It was amazing to me how deer several hundred yards away, picked up on my scent and hit the road.  I remember one time in particular that I was sitting on a fence row watching a huge field in front of me with a stand of trees on the other side.  As evening came, several whitetail deer came out into the field to eat.  It was going to be a matter of time before one of them wandered into range and became venison.  WRONG!  At over 500 yards, all of a sudden, they lifted their heads, looked in my directions and left.  I learned the strength of their noses.

Here's something that I have used over the past twenty years or so that really works for me.  I buy some fluorescent fuzzy material made for tying flies.  I don't even know what it's called but it comes in a strand about 1/4 of an inch thick and is made up of thousands of tiny fibers.  It is fluorescent to attract the fish I guess.  I tie a strand of that stuff (about 8 inches long) to my bow and every time I want to check the wind direction, I just pull some strands off and let them go.  It works especially well while sitting in a tree stand.  Being bright colored, you can see it at a distance and you can watch it all the way down till it hits the ground.  It's amazing how the wind will catch it and actually move it in different directions.  It's the best thing I've found for using in a treestand.  As I said, it is very visible as it floats away on the breeze.

I have also used the old dirt method about a zillion times.  Where I hunt in Washington, there is a lot of powdery white ash left over from when Mt. St. Helens erupted back in 1980.  I just pick up a bit of that, throw it into the air and watch it go.

Great tip and something we can not be reminded of too often.

hunter25's picture

All good tips for a good and

All good tips for a good and basically cost free way to keep an eye on the wind direction. This is the most important aspect of our hunt and should never be overlooked. I never paid attention to it at all when I was younger and would watch in confusion when animals would spook that I was sure had not seen or heard me. Live and learn and of course learn well from your mistakes.

groovy mike's picture


Thanks for the tips Hawkeye. 


A piece of dark thread attached to your rifle barrel is light enough not to notice and camouflaged enough not to see until you want to look for it too.  Playing the wind can really pay off if you are hunting I an area not normally covered in human scent. It isn’t so much of an issue if you are hunting near areas where human scent drifts through anyway, but it is always worth paying attention to.



jim boyd's picture

Great tip!

Great tip and very important - all important, in fact!

I am constantly on the net (using my BlackBerry) to get weather forecasts - particularly wind direction and velocity. The others, such as rain, temperatures, etc are good information - but the wind aspect of it is crucial!

A thread is certainly a good wind indicator... my Summit climber has some pads on the rails and they have frayed edges and several threads hang down from each one... I use these as immediate wind detectors and I do not have to remember to bring anything else along with me!

You might fool a wise old buck in many ways but you are not often going to fool his nose.

Again, great tip!


numbnutz's picture

great tip. thanks

great tip. thanks

Critter done's picture

Great Point

Wish I would of done it in my younger days.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Good tips. We should all know

Good tips. We should all know how important the wind is. In my earlier days I took this for granted and it really showed in my success rate. I learned the hard way.

CVC's picture

I use the little puffer

I use the little puffer bottle.  I think it is simple but gives a good indication of wind direction.  I love to watch the African trackers work.  They use bags filled with powder and shake them like a yo yo and disperse some powder.  they constantly test the wind as they move along.