GPS in high winds

Where to Hunt in High Winds

Grant Woods |

Researchers, including myself, have captured and placed collars with GPS receivers on literally thousands of wild, free-ranging white-tailed deer. The findings from this work added much to my knowledge about deer and how I hunt.

I used some of the information from those findings this week. There have been several fronts passing through the Midwestern states. Associated with these fronts have been several periods of wind 10+ miles per hour faster than normal. I often hear that deer are not active when the wind is faster than normal and therefore there’s no need to hunt.

I hunted and saw deer this morning even though high wind speeds were forecasted. The winds were out of the north so I sat on the south side of a narrow valley and looked north – into a south-facing slope. I was in the wind (coming from the north) and watched a south-facing slope. South-facing slopes are naturally protected from north winds. I watched deer work their way across my viewing area on that slope.

I knew from research that deer in areas where there is enough topography to offer natural wind breaks will maintain daily activity patterns, but may use different parts of their home range to avoid winds that are faster than normal.

In areas like the prairie states where the topography is relatively flat, deer often travel in ditches or along tree lines that partially block the wind. The winds in flat areas average faster speeds than where the topography is hilly. So deer will often be seen feeding in open (windy areas) where the average wind speed is faster. They have apparently become conditioned to avoiding predators in that environment.

If it’s normally windy where you hunt, then deer are probably moving throughout their home range. If the winds are substantially stronger than normal deer will still move to feed, etc., but will select areas that are sheltered from the wind. These areas are often areas where the wind swirls during normal wind speeds such as bottoms, etc. When the wind is faster than normal, it’s a great chance to hunt areas that are not often hunted due to swirling winds.

I’m out the door now to take my daughter, Raleigh, hunting. The wind speed is forecast to be higher than normal. We’ll be hunting a bottom where we rarely hunt due to tendency for winds to swirl. I’m thankful for high winds every now and then!

Growing and hunting deer together,

Dr. Grant Woods,

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