Wind, Friend or Foe?

Wind, Friend or Foe?
Nothing is more near and dear to a die-hard predator hunter’s heart than a good wind. What I mean by a good wind is a wind that is in your favor when hunting. A good, favorable wind in my opinion could be described by any wind that will not disclose what you are or your location. Chances are if you haven’t paid attention to the wind, you haven’t been a very successful predator hunter. Knowing how to use the wind is essential to consistently bagging the fur.

Most predator callers – including myself – won’t even attempt predator calling on a real windy day if we don’t have to. I’ve encountered a few exceptions over my years of predator calling and I would like to pass them on to you. Calling in predators in a strong wind is a huge accomplishment. There are many reasons why calling in a strong wind can be so difficult.

First of all, predators usually won’t be out in search of supper on real windy days unless it’s absolutely essential. Critters like to get in out of the wind just like we do. Their senses aren’t as keen as they usually are on calm wind days. The wind is producing unnatural noises and dust is blowing in every direction. Therefore, predators usually choose to stay close to cover. When they do decide to investigate the dying blues, you can bet they’ll have you nailed down from a long distance.

A couple years ago, I was hunting in some awesome coyote country with a friend of mine. It was early March when coyotes are dened up and their territorial instincts are at a high. We had driven part of a day and all night long to get to this area only to find the wind just howling across the juniper-pinion country. We weren’t about to turn back so we went ahead and gave it a try.

We weren’t expecting to see coyotes but were pleasantly surprised when we saw a coyote on our first stand. The problem was that he came in directly downwind and winded us at about 300 yards out. This happened on our second stand also. On our third stand, we decided to get creative with it. I spread out prone with a dead rest aiming directly downwind. My buddy howled and then hit the death medley. It didn’t take me long to see a nice male shaggy come strolling up the draw for a look. Again, it was about 300 yards. When he came to a dead stop I knew the game was over and I touched it off. I guarantee that is one educated coyote. His little lady coyote will thank me for shaving the hair off his back. Those bullets fly pretty well with a strong tailwind.

We ended up with a fine pair of coyotes that day. I’m confident however that we should have killed four times that many if the wind had not been a factor. This story conveys the idea that coyotes can be called in on windy days but if you want to bag one, you had better be focused downwind and be ready for some long-distance shooting.

Normally coyotes won’t come to a dead stop when they catch your scent. Instead, they turn tail and haul their hide for the next county offering little or no shot at all. Just a few weeks ago, my buddy Garrett and I were down hunting some high country coyotes in one of our favorite places. We called a coyote in on our first stand. The wind was just right and we shot that coyote at about 60 yards. On our second stand, the wind was calmly blowing from my left to right. The coyote appeared out of a little willow-covered draw about 400 yards to my left. The wind was perfect again.

Then, the crap hit the fan. That coyote hit a little wash that I wasn’t aware of and started trotting to my right. All I could see was the top two inches of his back periodically. I knew it was only a matter of feet until he would be directly downwind of me. I tried whistling, barking, and everything else I could think of to stop that dang coyote for a shot; but it wasn’t to be. The second that coyote hit my scent, it kicked it into high gear and headed out of town. I did throw some lead his way but my attempts were futile. That coyote must have had a run-in with my brand of after-shave before.

It all boils down to using common sense when calling critters in the wind. Whenever possible, cover your scent. There are several good products available that claim to do just this. They have sprays, soaps, and even laundry detergent that will clean your clothes without leaving a scent on them. I have a good friend that swears by having a little 35mm film case with skunk musk in it. He says it covers his scent and relaxes the coyotes when they smell it. Smoking is never a good idea when calling coyotes. I once passed a couple screamers on one of my critter expeditions on the desert. They resembled two smokestacks as they approached me. Each of them had a lit cigar in his mouth. They related to me how disgusted they were with the area. They explained that when they were younger, they used to drive out to this area and shoot coyotes from the road on a regular basis. They told me that they hadn’t even seen a coyote after four stands. I didn’t want to tell them that I had already killed two coyotes that morning. I wanted to ask them if they were heavy smokers in their younger years as well.

Calling coyotes in a high wind is probably responsible for more educated coyotes than any other thing. Sound can travel a long ways with the wind. Likewise, your howls or death blues won’t travel at all against the wind. I’ve experimented calling in the wind. I had my brother squealing in my direction while I was up wind of him about 40 yards and I couldn’t hear a thing. Granted, coyotes, foxes, and other vermin can hear much better than I can, but if these sounds can’t be heard at 30 to 40 yards, you might as well pack up and learn from that experience.

My experience shows that a predator is going to show up downwind about 99.9 percent of the time. If calling in the wind is unavoidable, make sure you’ve got a sharp eye downwind and be ready to shoot the distance.

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