Scent is the whitetail’s number one defence. If a buck smells you, it’s game over—he wins. So, only bowhunt from stands where the wind is always in your favour. This is the most critical element to focus on for early-archery-season success. You need to be within 35 metres of your prey when bowhunting, but that will never happen if the buck is downwind from you.
Make sure the wind is favourable before you head out. If the breeze swings direction once you’re in your stand, however, pack it in for the morning or relocate to an alternate ambush site. Most of my stands favour the predominant west wind, but I make sure to set up at least one ambush site for when there’s an easterly breeze. If the forecast calls for high winds of more than 20 km/h, meanwhile, postpone the hunt—the deer will abandon their nighttime feeding areas well before daybreak to seek sanctuary in the forest.
In tandem with playing the wind, also develop a scent-management regimen to keep your bowhunting gear scent-free and minimize your human odour. Store your clothes in a vented plastic tub with cedar or pine boughs for a week prior to hunting, and always wear scent-free rubber boots. The last thing you want to do is educate the local boss buck that there’s a stalker in the woods.