Deer hunting a ridge top can present several challenges for remaining scent free. Whether you are above the crest of the ridge or below, your ability to control your scent relies on much more than simply washing your hunting clothes and setting up for the forecasted wind direction.
There is one giant question that you need to ask yourself when hanging a stand around your favorite ridge top: Are you above the crest or below? After you determine your elevation, you then need to plan for either evening or morning opportunities. However, hunting ridge tops effectively largely boils down to your stand location, in relation to the crest of the ridge. While hunting ridge tops can take some getting used to (admittedly still practicing since 1993), you can learn to use broken topography to your advantage, to remain scent free!
HUNTING ABOVE THE CREST OF THE RIDGE TOP
Until your deer stand is located above the crest of the ridge top, you will not be able to take advantage of the true, forecasted, wind direction. The curling effect of the wind that takes place when you are below the crest of the ridge, can be completely eliminated when you are just a few feet in elevation above the crest. That means that if you are in a stand and facing open or free air, over the ridge and in your face, that your scent will be blown behind you and you will remain scent free in front of you. Even in the morning hours with thermals rising from all directions, as long as you are above the crest, you can experience the true wind direction. The only difference between the hours of morning and evening, is that during the am your scent will be carried well over the lower elevation levels below your stand location, and during a pm sit your scent will eventually fall and saturate those same lower topographical levels.
HUNTING BELOW THE CREST OF THE RIDGE TOP
When you set your stand location below the crest of the ridge, things begin to become a lot more interesting! As soon as you drop a foot or more in elevation below the ridge, your scent will most likely curl back uphill during the morning hours and even for an afternoon sit, the greater the speed of the wind, I have experienced the greater the chance that your scent will blow back uphill (even if that is opposite of the forecasted wind direction), and you will spook deer. In the above chart that means that any stand location below the actual crest, including the military crest, mid or lower elevations of the ridge system, deer need to be traveling below your stand location during the morning hours, and not above. However, during the last hour of daylight you can count on your scent to fall below your stand along with the drop in temperatures, which makes hunting on the side of a ridge system extremely difficult for afternoon hunts.
In the stand location pictured just above the waterhole, I had to add an extra 4' of ladder to get just above the ridge top. With a neighborhood behind the stand setup and open air in my face from any Southerly direction, I can easily experience a scent-free sit all day long.
Often a few feet of elevation in broken topography locations is all that it takes. Are you high enough above the ridge top for your favorite deer stand, so that you can experience the true, forecasted wind direction? Or do you need to plan for the curling effect that takes place when you are just below the crest? Once you determine your elevation, you can then plan effectively for morning or evening sits. While hunting a ridge top offers some complexities, I have developed a passion for hunting in significant eleveation changes because it allows you to create a variety of stand locations to help you remain scent-free!