Many hunters mistakenly believe that adult white-tailed bucks will not fly in strong winds. In the 13-minute YouTube video below, Jason Campbell proves that’s not the case.
Campbell is on public land in Indiana — a property he’s never visited before — and while he originally intended to explore that day, the buck sign was so fresh and large that he quickly hung up a portable tree stand and then himself settles down to wait for a whitetail. The area is very windy, he explains, but based on the date – November 1st – he knows an adult buck could be on his feet in daylight regardless of the conditions.
Timing is everything when it comes to tagging a mature buck, and Campbell knows it pays to strike fast when the odds are in your favor. This applies in particular to public properties. Strong winds probably kept some other hunters at home, giving Campbell the forest to himself.
It appears that Campbell is hunting a hardwood island or peninsula surrounded by cattails. I have learned through experience that cattails of all sizes and sexes, including adult bucks, provide perfect security. One benefit of bowhunting near a cattail swamp is that whitetails must leave cover to feed – there is no food in a cattail swamp.
As you will see, the big buck is grazing on leaves and twigs and is likely to find some acorns as well. This buck could have been bedded within 100 yards of where Campbell placed his portable hang-on.
A few observations:
- Due to high winds and trees that might be present, Campbell placed his stand just 8 feet off the ground. On this day it would be dangerous to climb higher in a tree and the wind would also make an accurate shot quite difficult because the tree would sway. Another benefit of climbing just 8 feet is that the buck, which could have been bedded nearby overlooking the hardwoods, cannot top Campbell, which certainly would have been possible had he climbed 20 feet off the ground.
- One of the largest bucks I’ve ever taken in 45 years of bowhunting happened on a windy day similar to the one featured in this video. Also I was only 8 feet in a tree. I killed the big 5×5 Whitetail on November 6th in a South Dakota river bed and this buck was chasing a deer in heat. She ran to my tree and when he was chasing her from 30 yards away I grabbed my bow and drew it as fast as I could and bleated loudly. He ignored it – in truth he’s probably never heard it over the 30-mile winds. I quickly grumbled a second time; No Answer. With nothing to lose, I yelled “Hey!” The buck stopped and I bored him to 15 yards. He immediately ran after the deer and I thought I missed, but at 60 yards he stopped, looked for the hiding deer, and a split second later he fell over.
- The rut is the great leveler when it comes to the movement of the buck during the daylight hours. I’ve experienced greatly reduced buck movements during the rut when the air temperature is much higher than normal, but provided it’s cold the wind doesn’t seem to be a limiting factor.
- Speaking of air temperature, do you notice the snow in the video? A cold front is likely to penetrate and in early November this may be a trigger for buck moves. Campbell was smart to hunt that day after finding the hot sign.
- Strong winds make it harder for bucks to smell you. In wind gusts of up to 40 km/h or more, a white-tailed tail has trouble detecting human scent. The buck in this video is the perfect example. Several times before Campbell makes his 12-yard shot, the buck catches a smell from something he doesn’t like, but he can’t figure out the source of the smell. The big 5×5 I killed in South Dakota came straight downwind from my location, but it never smelled me because of the gusty winds.
- Strong winds make it harder for bucks to see you. These hardwoods are not thick, and if conditions were calmer the buck would probably have pinned Campbell to the tree much sooner. But the wind sets everything in motion, allowing Campbell to draw his bow. Eventually the buck spots Campbell in the low stand of trees, but the animal is still unsure what to make of him and the strong wind also drowns out the sound of archery, preventing the buck from jumping the string.
- I’m not a fan of head-on shots on whitetails in most cases, but as you can see in this video, it works well for Campbell. The buck is close — 12 yards again — and Campbell’s tree stand is close to the ground. click here for an article I wrote about frontal shots of whitetails.
Congratulations to Campbell on his Indiana bruiser. Every whitetail is an archery gear feat, and tagging a full-grown buck on public land is never easy.