If you are a veteran stand hunter, you have doubtless noticed you are far less likely to see whitetails in the evening. Here’s why. Realizing they are most vulnerable while feeding, being most visible and often having their heads down, mature whitetails almost always use their noses to determine whether or not a large predator or human hunter is waiting in ambush within or adjacent to its intended feeding area before entering it. This, of course, must be done from downwind.
Normally, whitetails begin feeding in the morning shortly after 4 AM. Whether you are planning to use an elevated stand or sit at ground level, because whitetails will already be feeding as you approach a feeding area in the morning, it is best approach the feeding area from downwind in the morning, beginning 200 yards or more away, and then sit near a downwind edge. Why 200 yards away? Because feeding whitetails are likely to react with alarm upon smelling you approaching within 200 yards (your airborne odors growing stronger as you draw nearer).
Matters are different in the afternoon. If you arrive at a feeding area before whitetails arrive, which you should always do to avoid the risk of being heard and seen approaching by feeding whitetails, stand hunting at a downwind location is then totally wrong. There, whether high in a tree or stand hunting at ground level. you will be easily smelled and identified by whitetails normally approaching from downwind, it being impossible to eliminate all odors common to human hunters (the pungent odor of rubber boot soles and mouth odors to name a couple). In the afternoon and evening, then, you should approach from and sit crosswind of the edge of a feeding area. Keep in mind your airborne scents will spread out as they drift downwind. A high vantage spot where the wind angles slightly toward your right or left cheek is ideal. This precaution will improve numbers of deer you will see in late afternoon and evening.