Thermals and Deer Hunting

Ben Rising discusses how thermals work in evenings and mornings while deer hunting. Ben’s recent video “Food Plot Considerations” briefly touched on why a hunter may have a tough time or elect not to hunt a food plot due to thermals. The video featured a small perennial clover plot settled in the bottom of two hills. With known buck bedding on the hill, Ben described why the particular food plot would not be hunted as both morning and evening thermals would complicate the hunt. After receiving questions about how thermals worked, Ben decided to explain both morning and evening thermals, and how they are affected by dominant wind direction and terrain while deer hunting.

Morning thermals tend to rise and therefore typically carry a hunter’s scent out of a valley, food plot, or hunting location. However, when the dominant wind is at play these thermals may slide horizontally before rising. This could, in turn, bounce or swirl on a hill above the hunter’s location. This is typically why morning hunts should be placed above where the deer are expected to come from, putting the thermals and dominant wind away from the expected direction of travel.

Afternoon or evening thermals tend to sink and therefore carries a hunter’s scent down to ground level. This is usually a negative associated with hunting in the evenings unless a hunter can use a terrain feature or the dominant wind to the advantage of sinking thermals. Creek bottoms or valleys running away from terrain can act like funnels for scent. If a stand is properly placed evening thermals can take a hunter’s scent out of the hunting area and away from deer through a creek, river, or slow depression running away from higher terrain.

Incorporate this knowledge of thermals and deer hunting when deciding stand and food plot locations.