(Note: if you have an issue with hunting, i.e., you don’t like it and think it cruel and generally anti-environmental, I invite you to read my series of articles, Why Hunt?)
Today, I was going to go do some deer hunting. I don’t have to go far. I can get to my favorite areas within an hour or so. I only have been out once this month (in this area of Alberta, the deer season is generally open from Nov. 1 to 30) to learn that late season moose hunters were dominating the landscape. Now, I don’t mind running into the odd hunter. I deer hunt mostly by myself and the occasional contact with a fellow hunter can be a pleasant event. But when there’s a bunch of them and I have to plan my hunting strategy mainly to avoid running into them (for our mutual benefits), I find this can be frustrating. So, I’ve been letting the early season mostly pass, hoping the moose hunters either get their moose or become frustrated (or run out of mid-week days off) and leave. This usually happens at about the second week of the month. Also, the deer rut does not come into full effect until about the third week.
Now, being a confirmed and passionate white-tailed deer hunter, I like to be out in the early season to learn where the bucks have established their scrape trails and figure out where the does and fawns are hanging out. Then, as the rut builds, I know where I need to be to ambush a quality buck. So, I do appreciate getting out as early as possible–let’s face it I like to walk in the fall bush and watch what’s happening.
Today, I woke up early to the sound of howling wind (Environment Canada reports 70 km with gusts to 100 km). Wind is generally not an issue with me concerning deer hunting. I like at least a little breeze so I know where my scent is going. But when the wind builds to whole gale force, I feel I’m at a distinct disadvantage.
Despite what you might hear, wild deer have the advantage in the hunting game. They know their habitat far better than we ever will. They have built in senses and behavior that protects from we bumbling, noisy human hunters.
Generally a high wind (not gale force) is helpful to the hunter. If the bush is noisy (crunchy snow or leaves under foot), wind tends to cover these noises. On the other hand, wind tends to cover the noises of approaching deer. However, when the wind get to gale force, both man and deer are at distinct disadvantage. Deer use their nose and ears to great advantage. High winds restrict these senses. It is my experience that deer go to ground when these winds occur. They place themselves in deep bush, where the wind is restricted and any approaching predator must make sufficient noise to alert them.
In these winds, the only deer I’ve found are those I’ve rousted out of their beds in the deep woods. The opportunity of a good shot is rare. At this stage of my hunting career, I hunt for the good shot. I do not take shots at running game, unless I’m very sure of my shot placement.
Also an issue in high wind is its effect on bullet travel. Now, I generally shoot at 100 metres or less in distance, but even at 25 or 30 m high wind can affect the travel of a bullet.
Last, and in my books definitely least in my considerations, there is danger of falling trees. Even in moderate windy conditions I have watched many a tree suddenly snap and fall to the ground. These happen very fast, and as far as I am concerned, it would be difficult to get out of the way if you had the presence of mind to do so (and how do you figure fast enough 1) you are in its path and 2) you can get out of its way).
So, that’s why I am not hunting today. These gale force winds are predicted for the remainder of the day. I will sit it out, get some work done here at home, and give it a go tomorrow.
So, what’s wrong with that?
Post Script: I wrote a subsequent article, “Hunting the Wind” in September of 2010.