Count yourself lucky if you live in hill country, because the morning thermal deer hunting advantages are very real! Thermals rise when the temperatures do the same, so this offers an incredible set of strategies for the average deer hunter, let alone the seasoned mature buck hunter. The morning thermals allow you to turn the tables on a whitetails greatest defense: His nose!
It dosn't take a lot of imagination to believe that hills help to hide whitetails and create an older age class of bucks. In fact, the record books heavily favor the bluffs that flank the Mississippi River within several states, including the #1 record entry state of WI. However, hill country offers another great deer hunting advantage, because when you hunt within appreciable elevation changes, you can cheat the wind. And folks, there is no greater way to cheat the wind then by using the morning thermals. In fact, 75% of my top 25 bucks have been killed using those morning thermals to my advantage, and there are 3 reasons why.
*Would you like to fool the oldest buck in the neighborhood? Then spend a lot less time on scent control gadgets and fads, and a lot more time on your treestand setup and location.
3 Morning Deer Hunting Strategies
Before heading off for an early morning trek to your favorite hill country stand location, make sure to explore these time-tested morning thermal practices, for fooling the oldest bucks in your neighborhood.
1. Daybreak Thermal Advantage
As soon as daybreak takes place, the thermals should be on the rise. Rising thermals directly relate to the rise in temperature, and that is when your incredible opportunity takes place! However, it pays to keep in mind that prior to daybreak, your scent will saturate below you during typically calm conditions. If you expect deer below your position before daybreak, make sure to enter your stand during the minutes of gray light, just before the sun rises or, consider the advantages of a post daybreak stand location access.
2. Thermal Cheating Wind Setups
Let's face it folks, morning thermals carry your scent up hill, above and away from your position. With that in mind, I have a passion for positioning my stand locations to push my scent above and into deer-less habitat varieties, including rock outcroppings, steep bluffs, as well as low attraction timber types such as solid conifer and mature hardwods. I use the same approach when I am located at the top of the ridge as well, when I can count on thermals to keep my wind well above and out of the way of an old monarchs nostrils. However, there is a lot more thermal cheating opportunities that you can take advantage of!
Simply, if you are above a mature buck in the morning within an broken topograhy region, you are safe from his nose. As long as the wind isn't blowing to the side and into an approaching or departing deer, the morning thermals will keep your scent well away from a whitetail. In fact, it really doesn't matter how much you stink, or not.
Let's say that you are facing downhill and the true wind pattern is driving from above the ridge and towards the way you are facing. In that case, the wind will simply swirl back uphill and keep your scent above the whitetails that pass by below. This will take place at any elevation, from top to bottom, you just need a wind direction that is perpendicular to your position. Of course any passing buck above your position will easily catch your scent, but where you locate your stand will ultimately determine your level of scent control, or not.
3. The 8 Hour Thermal Reward
The outstanding attribute about thermals is that you can count on them to parallel the temperature changes. When temperatures go up, thermals rise and when temperatures fall, so do the thermals. This is a huge advantage, often well into the middle of the day. Why? Because temperatures do not generall peak in the Fall, until 3-4 hours prior to dark. On a day that begins at 27 degrees and is forecasted to rise all the way to 58 degrees, will rarely reach it's peak until about 7-8 hours after daybreak. It pays to keep in mind that on a day where temperatures are expected to appreciably increase well into the middle of the day, your opportunity to cheat the wind can cover several hours. However, that same advantage also presents a level of thermal hunting risk, that should always be considered.
*This 2015 evening thermal buck harvest required planning for 2 different wind directions. 1st, for the winds before the temp drop, and 2nd for the wind direction after the temps finally dropped. He was shot 20 minutes before dark and above my stand location as he traveled from right to left. My scent was being pulled downhill and behind my left shoulder with the falling thermals.
The Evening Thermal Risk
Evening sits are often much warmer than morning sits, and mature bucks have been documented to move a whole lot less, during the afternoon hours. I personally believe that there are several factors that contribute to this challenge including rest, temperature and aggressive nightime movements. However, evening thermal sits present a challenge as well, because temperatures often do not decline until that last hour of your sit. A wise evening mature buck hunter that plans to sit at least a few hours, will need to plan for wind patterns that include stable temperatures as well as falling temperatures. While you can count on your scent to eventually be pulled downhill as darkness approaches, make sure not to forget about the first 2-3 hours of your sit.
Would you like to keep it simple? Then just make sure that at daybreak, you are positioned above the line of deer travel so that you can take advantage of the morning thermals. That one strategy alone allows you to cheat the wind and potentially connect with one of the mature monsters that is often created by the protection of the hills, in the first place. Whether you focus on a whitetail's nose, their stomachs or a mature bucks reclusive nature, there are always strategies for turning the tables of protection and need against them. If you are blessed to hunting within the hills, make sure to take advantage of your own set of morning thermal strategies, thise season.