Looking for advise of reading wind

Discussion in 'The Basics, Starting Out' started by cmorsch, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. cmorsch

    cmorsch Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone have any advise on how to read the wind when taking a shot from one canyon wall to the other. I don't get to shoot in those conditions often here in the Dallas Tx area. But deal with it a lot when I am elk hunting in Colorado.
     
  2. Timber338

    Timber338 Well-Known Member

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    I'll pass on my experience. Definitely not a pro at reading the wind. I hunt in Colorado in a spot where there are several cross canyon shooting opportunities. Typically these shots are shooting over a river or creek ... which is what formed the canyon to begin with. And the water has to flow from higher elevation to lower elevation. a typically sunny day (no cold front moving through), first light will have the calm cold air moving down the creek/river fairly light, crosswind to shooting across the canyon. Some places will have aspens and timber that you can look at to see how much wind at various locations along your shooting path, other places have oaks or bare ground which are much harder to detect wind movement, but generally it is calm/consistent/predictable, usually less than 5 mph. about 2-3 hours after the sun rises, the wind stops as it is about to change direction, then it will start blowing uphill. I say 2-3 hours, but where I hunt it's almost like clockwork between 9:45 and 10am. It's going to depend on when the sun hits the ground where you hunt and warms up the air enough to make it start moving back uphill. Once it changes direction, and the day warms up, the air gets very unsettled along with a pretty nasty up-slope component that pushes your bullet in the vertical direction. So just keep in mind that it's not like shooting on flat ground where your bullet stays nice and close to the terrain at all times. You might have 800 feet or more between your bullet and the canyon bottom and that's a big column of air that might push your bullet up in the afternoon. In those conditions I have not been able to figure out a way to read that, so I limit my shots to more calm conditions... which typically are the first few hours of the day.

    Everywhere is different, but I think very helpful to get a good feel for the general wind patterns so you know what to expect on a typical day. Even looking at where you'll hunt on a topo map might be good to give you a big picture perspective of what to expect with the wind patterns. Stuff you probably already know, but just passing on how I approach any hunting spot.
     

  3. FearNoWind

    FearNoWind Well-Known Member

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    Except for the fact that he apparently relies on Jewell triggers, :D (I hate 'em) Timber338 offers some very good insight and obviously has experience shooting over canyons. It's called a hunt, and not a "shoot", for the very good reason that we don't venture out into the wilderness and just shoot something. The two tools that may help you most in setting up a shot across and canyon are a VERY GOOD range finder and VERY GOOD binoculars. IMO, accurately judging wind speed is secondary to judging wind direction when your faced with a shot across a canyon.
    Compare the leaf movement (or whatever active vegetation you have) on your side of the void with the movements of similar vegetation on the other side. How do they compare? Sometimes their speed and direction essentially cancel each other. Also understand that, as the wind passes along the edges of the canyon it can develop eddies that raise havoc with an otherwise well placed shot.
    With a shot across a canyon you probably have quite a lot of time to weigh the variables, check your dope sheet(s), and come up with a good solution. The wind currents most often neglected in my experience are the eddies and those that move upward. Even over relatively flat terrain (Wyoming prairies) the wind gains speed as it rolls over the raised portions of the gently rolling terrain.
    One last thought - before you take the shot, remember that you will have to find a way to get to the other side of that canyon, field dress and pack out the game, and arrive home safely. It's OK to pass up a shot that isn't right for the circumstances.
    Good hunting gun)
    Footnote: No offense Timber338. Just couldn't pass up the opportunity. I likewise wish you good hunting and safe passage.
     
  4. cmorsch

    cmorsch Well-Known Member

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    I should probably clarify what I meant by canyon, I am referring to valleys between fingers and or knolls on a mountain.
     
  5. Timber338

    Timber338 Well-Known Member

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    I still think the same fundamental wind patterns exist... what you are talking about are the smaller ridges where the fingers will ultimately feed down into a larger canyon that I was talking about. When you said "canyon wall" in your original thread, the "wall" description really does not occur until you get to the larger river/creek. But again I still go back to understanding the big picture geography of the area you are hunting, which should indicate which way the wind is moving between ridges when you cannot get out there to feel it.

    Wherever it is you hunt, the mornings are not only going to be the calmest winds, but the best times to see animals moving. If it is so windy on a long shot that it's too hard to read the wind, then it's just best to pass. At least that is my own personal approach. Reading the wind is tricky, and without lots of practice in the spots you are shooting, it's pretty tough. I'm sure there are guys here good enough to do it, but I am not one of them.

    FearNoWind, absolutely no offense taken! I'm not stuck on jewell, just had to try one out. I've also used Timney triggers in the past which I really liked. I actually cannot say I like the Jewell any more or less than anything else I have shot, and might like the Timney a bit more on a hunting rifle. Any reason in particular you don't like them? Just curious... fun to talk about this stuff.
     
  6. FearNoWind

    FearNoWind Well-Known Member

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    At the risk of hijacking the thread, I'll apologize ahead of time and offer a quick answer. I experienced a failure with a Jewell trigger on a bench rest rifle I had last year. The rifle fired without my input (down range fortunately) during set up at a match. When I checked it out at the cleaning bench it would slam fire, regardless of where the trigger was set. I hadn't disassembled it or made any changes beyond making the adjustments that a shooter might typically make on an "adjustable" trigger so I figured Jewell should make it good. Ended up having to pay for the repair and the "problem" was never explained. I shoot tactical now and use my rifle for hunting so I don't want to risk that happening again. When I work with Timney there is never an issue. They aim to please and I find their triggers free of creep and shots break crisply.
     
  7. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    The best tips that I've gotten was from Shawn Carlock and Broz and that was to imagine the wind as water flowing over the terrain your looking at. The other is the closer to the muzzle the more important it is and the more affect on the bullet trajectory it has.

    In my area the biggest thing I had to learn was to pay attention to the prevailing wind that your bullet will be in during mid range, it's strong but steady. I can take the local wind that is following the ground and add 50% of it's value to the correction and I get good wind calls.
    The local wind is the one that will really help to think of as water, it reacts to the terrain and you can measure it.
    The thermal winds are the ones that cause that bullet trace to go right over a bulls shoulder, it's got a vertical and a horizontal component to think about but with patience and playing with a meter you can break down both components and use a program to figure it out.

    Do some shooting, one round just to learn from at long range won't even register on an elks radar and you'll gain a huge amount of knowledge from it and if your unsure about a shot on an elk take a spotter shot, at 800+ yards they don't have any idea and you can really dial in and drop them on the second round.

    Just pay attention to the wind through the whole day and you'll learn a lot just as you move around.
     
  8. bootsking

    bootsking Active Member

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    Going to Co I assume you will be training to get into good physical condition. Get a wind meter for your hiking/walks, and during training look at the conditions (leaves, grass, mirage, etc) to estimate the wind; then check it with the meter. You can "calibrate" your eye with a little experience.
     
  9. Truc

    Truc Well-Known Member

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    I've been shooting Benchrest for yrs and have never had any issues with a Jewell, clean it with lighter fluid once a yr. and you're good to go.

    In Benchrest matches you should will never have a bolt in a rifle while setting up.

    Now saying that I do like a Rifle Basics trigger.

    Now as far as reading wind, I've seen wind blow from 3 different directions between me and 200 yds. As mentioned earlier watch the vegetation, dust etc and even feeling it on your face will give you clues
     
  10. Timber338

    Timber338 Well-Known Member

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    I had a cool conversation with an Army Ranger Sniper a couple weeks ago, and this guy was good. He reads mirage to dope the wind, and said when the mirage is angled in the scope at about 45 degrees, you've got a 3-5 mph crosswind. When the angle increases up to 60 degrees, you're about 10 mph.

    Now, I took this with a grain of salt, as everybody is going to have to calibrate their own eyes to mirage angle and mph crosswind... so my takeaway was to get out and practice shooting in the wind more. Without the practice nobody is going to be good at shooting in the wind on a long shot. Luckily a standard Colorado afternoon provides plenty of wind.

    bigngreen, this Sniper also echoed exactly what you said about an elk not having a clue where you're coming from on a long shot. he said find a rock near the elk, dope your best guess at wind/drop, shoot at the rock and see where it lands in your scope... "then put that spot on the elk and kill it" were his exact words. Similar to talking to Shawn Carlock and Broz, it's a pretty rare and valuable conversation to have with a guy who has so much experience shooting long range.
     
  11. davkrat

    davkrat Well-Known Member

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    The only other advice I will add is don't do all your practice with an Uber Magnum launching high BC bullets at lightning fast speeds. Practice with a flying pig like a round nose .308 or even better a 22LR. A .22 at 200 yards will exaggerate every missed wind call you make. Also being able to spot your misses through the scope makes it easier to practice solo with a .22
     
  12. FearNoWind

    FearNoWind Well-Known Member

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    You could spend a lifetime studying the wind and you'll never get it perfect.
    The only thing constant about the wind is that it is constantly changing.
    I use the mirage formula previously described. It isn't perfect but it seems to be the best "general" guide for my needs. The "rock at long range" (or other suitable target) method works very well.
    What if there isn't any reliable mirage? Well, I'm back to square one, my dope sheet, and s.w.a.g. (and maybe a rock) like everyone else. :)
     
  13. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    I typically don't see much mirage during prime hunting times so I don't spend a whole lot on it and concentrate on other indicators so in my area you can hear the wind in the trees change very well and I really pay attention to this. If I do get some mirage I take the scope out of focus and slowly focus it through the range to see if the mirage is consistent or switchy.

    Another very important thing is to know which wind to spend time looking at, the near wind is the wind that most affects your down range correction this is where that up draft will kick you in the butt if you miss it, the mid range is important in a lot of our country because that is where your bullet gets into the strong steady wind higher in the canyon or basin. The far wind is much less critical to nail, I'm at the point I just make sure it's heading the same direction then put the time in on the near wind and it's made a huge difference in my cold bore shots.
     
  14. FEENIX

    FEENIX Well-Known Member

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    A "good" spotter never hurts to have. :D