Very often the hottest buck sign is down in the hollow, along the creek. The problem is the wind direction down in the hollow is unpredictable. You see, like water, the wind follows the contours of the terrain. As the wind blows down into the hollow it will eventually strike the opposite slope or ridge causing it to swirl and in some cases blowing back across the hollow in the opposite direction than it’s blowing up on the ridge. The wind reacts the same in a deep draw, coolie, ravine or canyon. This is very similar to flowing water meeting a still pocket and swirling back the way from which it came. These situations are bad news; unless the wind is almost dead still, which in itself bad because your scent just hangs, I suggest staying completely out of them and hunting higher ground.
Granted, that big old white oak growing alongside that trail stitched creek, deep in the hollow, might seem like the perfect setup. And, it just might be, but before you hang a stand on it, be a little wind wise and check things out. My favorite item for testing wind direction in these situations is a little plastic puffer bottle filled with baking soda. I prefer it because unlike the flame from a lighter or a string in the wind, you can watch the powder drifting with the breeze for a pretty good distance.
However, during the off season, my very best way to determine what the wind will do, especially in a hollow, saddle, ravine, canyon or at the base of a hill is to pick the best tree that intercepts the greatest number of trails, hang a stand and release a smoke bomb. What you might learn may be absolutely astounding. I have tested several locations where regardless of the wind direction, the red colored smoke circles back and never leaves the area; which means there would be no possible way to hunt that stand without getting busted. But by the same token, I’ve been able to find a couple very special spots where no matter which way the wind is blowing, the red smoke goes out and then almost straight up every time; making virtually impossible to get winded.
Still, don’t be scared to take calculated risks because the best wind direction to kill a big old buck is the one that is ALMOST wrong. You know the one, it’s that cross wind that blows steady between 5 and 10 miles an hour across the back of your ear and the side of your face, blowing just barely out of nostril reach from direction old mossy will be approaching
- Dan Perez