Longerange Wind: Flags,Socks,Meters?


Well-Known Member
Oct 4, 2002
How are you LR hunters estimating wind speed and direction? If you are hunting over the same 1000yd course would you recommend flags? I have been looking at wind socks on the web but never read about anyone using them for LR hunting....why? Thanks Guys,
I believe that most LR hunters try to dope the wind by using natural indicators and also mirage when it is running. I use the military chart as follows, have it on labels so it is always handy:

0 - 3 barely felt, smoke will drift
3 - 5 can barely be felt on face
5 - 8 tree leaves in constant motion
8 - 12 dust and loose paper moves
12 - 15 small trees begin to sway
15 - 20 large trees sway

I also use an electronic windmeter (Kestrel) but recognize that it only give me info where I am standing, not at the target.

For mirage, you should know how to recognize the boil condition (either no wind, or it is from 12 or 6 o'clock) and that you can make good velocity estimates in up to 12 mph wind. Take a bunch of experience but is very good.

Also like the old trick to drop some dead grass (light stuff) at right angles to wind, point finger at where it lands. Estimate the angle between your body and arm, divide by four and that is the wind speed in mph. Remember that wind moves like water would over rough terrain - speeds up and slows down according to valleys and ridges.

For field shooting the angle the wind is to your line of fire is very important, I tie a bit of wool on a twig and also use the windpuffs that archers use.

No doubt the serious LR target shooters depend heavily on windflags but there ain't any out in the hunting fields. That is why we spend a lot of time shooting steel plates and rocks at unknown distances - trying to get some confidence in wind reading and range estimation, bullet drop is no big deal.
I think you get the point that estimating wind at long range is very difficult, especially when hunting.

The best is to scope out an area you are hunting and flag branches and stuff. That way you can get some visible reference. Also looking at trees, grass, etc. will help. Practise shooting into that area as much as possible.

Now if this is a new area, you will have to rely on all the experience you gained shooting. When you have made your best guess, take a windage shot at something at the same distance as your game, but off to the side 200 to 300yds so the sound of the impact does not scare off your game. If you have estimated correctly, go for your game. If not, you should be able to compensate and engage your game.

The noise of a gunshot does not seem to bother game too much when it is that far away. However, whacking a rock near your target is sure to send them running. If you are shooting in terrain where you cannot see your windage impact, move closer to "sure" thing range. Hail Mary's are not going to make you very popular.

Know when not to pull the trigger.

Good luck...

Wind reading is an art.
You will actually need more than just one wind flag if your going to be shooting 1000 yards.
The path of the bullet will be changed by the first direction of wind that has the ability to move it.
That being said if you had a 5 mph crosswind from right to left your bullet would drift left, then at 600 you had a 11 mph wind at 3/4 wind direction going left to right pushing your bullet back towards the center of the target and then say it hit a 15 gust at 900 from a crosswind, this can place your bullet all over the map until it reaches impact point.
With only one flag its hard to tell when you need to pull the trigger. Many flags will give you an idea of the best time to shoot is when all the flags are consistantly showing one direction of strength of wind.
However, with some of these guys and their 200 gr and 300 gr big guns pushing them at 3000 fps of faster, wind is a lot less of an annoyance rather I would imagin mirage would be a big played then.
You must also take into account weather conditions too.
Like I said its an art, much time is needed at the range and knowing your particular gun you use is one of the keys to sucess.
Thanks to all for the info. Ian mega-thanks. You have some really great tools included there. Your chart is fantastic. I'll practice hat against a meter. Your angle method>>>I'm not sure if I get it. Correct me if I'm wrong. Standing perp. to wind direction, arm stretched forward out in front, drop, it lands 40deg. to the right=approx. 10mph wind???
To all: I built a range where I hunt. I can go there frequently to practice and watch our deer herd through my Big-eyes (thanks Daryll). I ONLY shoot on dead-calm mornings when wind is not such a huge factor at ranges that I have become very confident in. After 2 yrs of work and a lot of equipment that is 600yds. I am wanting to learn more about doping the wind hence my questions. I have a passionate disinterest in wounding anything and just want to learn from those more experienced than I. Thanks for all the info gentleman...this is one great site!
Just hold some litter in your right hand (if wind is left to right), bend arm so hand is near your chest. Stand so wind is blowing across your front and let the stuff fly downwind - wind will take it to your right, a varying distance from you depending on how strong wind is (use light stuff, dead grass is good).
Point your right arm at where the grass hit the ground.
Estimate the angle your right arm is making with the right side of your body - let's say it is about 45 degrees. Divide 45 by 4 and you get 11, so the wind is blowing about 10-11 mph. Seems to work, good to compare with visual stuff on the chart or a meter.
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