DIY: Wind Checker

A common thread that will be found running throughout Wilderness Law is prepping for dream hunts. For the 2015 season the Boy and I wanted to use whitetail hunting to try out a few tools, tricks, and ideas we’ve been wanting to use when/if we get to go out west to chase Elk/Bison/Sasquatch/etc. someday.

One particular tool we keep seeing guys making use of in all sorts of big game hunting is a wind checker.

Any half-way decent deer hunter (which is code for: better than me) knows that all the visual camo in the world don’t mean jack if you neglect to mind your wind. Wind direction. Wind speed. Deer trust nothing more than they do their sense of smell and there’s good reason for it because they generally have better than 20/20 smell.

For those that don’t know, a wind checker – or wind indicator – is a pocket-sized squeeze bottle full of dust. When you’re chasing around in the wild after an animal that sees with its nostrils, it’s invaluable to be able to pull one of these bottles out, shoot a cloud of dust in the air and watch it ride away on even the slightest of breezes, leaving you with no doubt as to which direction your scent is headed – allowing you to stay on the “blind side” of the game’s olfaction.


A Quick Side Note on DIY.

I love hunting. I love fishing. As far as pastimes go, these loves are equaled only by Doing-It-Your(My?)self. Buying and using the latest, greatest, most state-of-the-art, Star Trek looking piece of hunting tackle is about as fun as it gets. But it don’t hold a candle to seeing a commercial for that same gear and building a rip-off version out in the shed from spray foam, aluminum foil and a chunk off an index finger (not necessarily my own).

For my family, DIYing is as much a part of the outdoors experience as guns and meat. I wish I had a picture of the deer camp BBQ grill my step-dad and uncle built out of two old bath tubs to reinforce my point.

If God came down from outer space and told me I could hunt and fish for the rest of my life without having to work but I had to use 100% off-the-shelf gear, I honestly don’t think I’d take the deal. Being able to screw together a contraption I barely understand with little more than fancy dreams and lackluster math skills is at least half the fun of my outdoors doings.

This wind checker is a pretty good example.

Wilderness Law is not sponsored by Primos but they do make some good stuff.

Store-bought wind-checkers cost almost nothing. They average about $3-5 for one 2 ounce bottle in a blister pack. So even if I could build one for zero dollars I’m not saving all that much. But if we get a kill using one we built ourselves it’s 1000% more valuable on some spiritual zen jedi level that you can’t understand unless you’ve done it.



Pretty long list. Two whole ingredients:

A squeeze bottle.

And dust.

The Bottle:

The first one we made was from an old bottle of eye drops (not pictured). It was cool and all but I wanted to hold more dust. So I gave that one to the Boy and took an old 4 oz. contact lens solution bottle to make my own wind checker.

I know it looks like the tape is there to cover up the contacts solution brand label but it’s actually my half-assed attempt at camo-ing such a large white and blue bottle for the field.

Another good option would probably be a nasal spray bottle if you have one of those around the house in a random drawer.

The Dust:

Of course there are a lot of options like baby powder or whatever but most stuff like that has scents that you probably don’t want in the field. Even the ones that are labeled scent-less or whatever have medication chems in them and humans might not register the smell but it’s totally possible that a deer might. Can’t say for sure but my thinking is it’s better not to risk it.

So I used Chalk-Line marking dust.

Honestly if you have enough pocket space you could probably gank a hole in this thing and make it your wind checker without the extra step of transferring the contents to a smaller bottle.

You can get an 8 oz. sized bottle from the hardware store for about a buck and a half. For one thing, if it smells like anything it smells like chalk which is fairly natural already (according to the zero research I did to back that up). For a second, chalk line dust comes in a variety of color options so you can pick whatever you like.

The Home Depot Rainbow.

So like I chose orange because that’s visible to even my weak-ass eyes in almost any scenario.


The Process:

Make sure the bottle is dry. The smallest amount of residual dampness could screw everything up. I blew mine out with compressed air and then let it sit out open overnight in my office.

Once you’re sure it’s dry, dump some dust in and squeeze it. You get a big poofy cloud that floats on air that you might not even realize is moving on calm days.



The Result.

Unlike big western hunting, whitetail hunting doesn’t really lend itself to stalking around in the woods and playing chess with the wind. Especially in many parts of Texas where visibility can often be limited to tens of yards. So our situation is probably not the best for testing out this wind-checker but at least one scenario from this year showed me my little $1.50 squeeze bottle might be smarter than I.

Our first South Texas hunt this year involved us jumping some deer who were feeding across a cut lane when we rounded the corner a lot too boldly. We go into this a lot more in our second podcast episode, 102 Truckisode: James E. Daughtery WMA, so I won’t waste time with the whole story. But using the dust we were able to get around in front of three spooked deer and come up alongside them. And if I would have trusted the dust we would have waited in a certain spot and been able to have a picture perfect shot at a nice-sized spike. But I didn’t and I got impatient and we moved about 30 seconds too hastily and got ourselves busted.

The indicator did its job, I didn’t.

So our little cheapy wind-checkers will be a part of our packs on every deer hunt from here on out.


Baby's First Gun

December 25, 1987 - Axtell, Texas, USA.

I’m sure we unwrapped G.I. Joes. Maybe some Ninja Turtles. Don’t remember. You probably can’t say my brother and I are great at all that much but we do happen to be pro-level in a very particular set of skills. Among them is turning the underside of a Christmas tree into a wasteland like George Miller only dreams of. Which we did on this Christmas just like any other.

And that was it. In record time, Christmas morning was over.

But - then Dad was acting kinda odd. He had this sort of forced false casual demeanor. Awkward.

Like he was waiting for something…

We were set and ready to go destroy all the toys we’d just gotten from the red fat magical bearded home invader. But Dad doesn’t seem to realize that we’re done with the gift openingand ready to get to the gift playing with.

Dad looks at just me and says, “Hey what’s that behind that cabinet over yonder?”

So I look. There’s another present. An especially oblong present. With only my name on it. Notably peculiar since Dad bent over backwards to make sure if I got something Adam got the same or equivalent and vice versa.

We knew this was special. Unprecedented.

So we were both silent as I opened it.

And when I saw that Daisy Model 111B 4.5mm B-B Steel Air Gun my 6-year-old brain went into meltdown. I had zero ability to comprehend the epic badassery in my hands.

The next Christmas Adam got his BB gun and we were quite the pair.

In the years since, we’ve plinked enough zinc through Dr. Pepper cans to sink all the submarines Russia ever built*.

*This math is 100% accurate according to a study performed by a straight C Algebra student watching THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER more than a few times.


Now, it’s many, many, many – oh so many - many years later…

And, as a parent, I am not about to let my own kiddos face the world unarmed.


The Boy.

At some point I decided my kids would get their first air rifles on the Christmases when each of their respective sixth years.

He’s the oldest of the sprouts. Five years ago was his sixth December.

He loved it. And I couldn’t have been more proud.

Sadly, the gun turned out to be a joke. The Daisy I got when I was his age may have been a single pump but it was a legitimate machine of pure destruction as many a spider was made to realize.

When it came time to get The Boy’s I thought it was beyond cool that Daisy had put out a Red Ryder model, the infamous eye-shooter-outer from A CHRISTMAS STORY (a movie which I loved as a kid but subsequently re-watched and – not unlike the gun – it does not hold up). It was a terrible gun all the way around. I’ve never seen a BB bounce off of a Coke can – until this one.

But it done the job because The Boy was hooked. Several air rifles and various other forms of projectile weapon later, he has been my main dude in the deer blind and has humped a ton of backwoods miles with me. Now 11 years old, he regularly kills paper in 4-H with archery, BB and .22 He’s a true student and practitioner of ethical hunting. He’s safety-conscious with all weapons. He killed his first dove with a 20g shotgun this year. And he’s in the middle of his first deer season as the man holding the gun. He hasn’t been able to pull the trigger yet but he’s come a long way from that little BB Gun.


My Future Bond Villainess.

This year my Big Girl is 6 – which of course means I need to figure out which gun she’s going to open on Isaac Newton’s birthday.

When I look into options for her I have to consider a handful of facts.

It would be ideal to hand her a weapon she can cock herself right out the gate but that is unrealistic. The Boy was much thicker than her and it took him a while to figure out how to crank the lever on a gun that had the lightest pull I’ve ever experienced. So Tristan and I will be working the action til she’s bigger.

That leaves fitting the gun to her ergonomically. I know I could run to Cabela’s and buy her a $500-$1000 squirrel killer but she wouldn’t fit into it any more than she could operate a Peterbilt. Giving her too much gun would present a learning curve resulting in a negative experience and getting her back into a gun later on would turn into a fight when it should be a fun, educational interaction.

On the other hand, she’s smarter than myself, her brother and her mother all together. Anything she picks up she makes sense of it before you can turn around. One day she’ll own the world. Maybe she’ll conquer it with an air rifle – maybe not – who’s to say…

After having all those thoughts running through my head and wearing out the Google search bar I’ve come up with these options:


Daisy® Red Ryder Air Rifle

I don’t care what you say, that movie sucks.

They do look neat. No doubt about it. But that’s about it.


Price: $24.49

Caliber: .177

Velocity: 350 fps

Length: 35.4 in.

Weight: 2.2 lbs.


Daisy® 1998 Air Rifle

Pink. Guns.

Honestly this is in no way an option I’m considering. I’m just including it here to jump on a soap box for a second. I’m aware that there are biochemical differences between males and females. In fact that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms that maybe I’ll get into in a future post. But this gun is exactly the same as the Red Ryder. I guess girlfolks ain’t smart enough to figure out what they want unless we color code it OSHA-style for them. Are girls unable to enjoy a gun-colored gun?


Price: $24.49

Caliber: .177

Velocity: 350 fps

Length: 35.4 in.

Weight: 2.20 lbs.


Daisy® 105 Buck Air Rifle

Law Family Classic.

This is the modern version of those first Model 111B guns my brother and I got as kids. I haven’t shot one of these to know how they’ve changed in the past million years but the ones we had were light yet sturdy and easily fit to our then tiny frames.


Price: $17.96

Caliber: .177

Velocity: 275 fps

Length: 29.8 in.

Weight: 1.6 lbs.


Crosman 760 Pumpmaster® Air Rifle Kit

One Word: Plastics

Dad’s Dad had one of these. But it was metal. It was relatively sturdy. These new ones are neither.


Price: $34.99

Caliber: .177

Velocity: 625 fps – BBS / 600 fps - pellets

Length: 33.5 in.

Weight: 2.8 lbs.


Daisy® Model 880 PowerLine® Air Rifle with Scope

The Workhorse.

I love this gun. This one, with a scope, was my second as a kid. I got this one year, probably also for Christmas, and all of a sudden I was a sniper! I could, and often did, explode garden spiders at 15 yards and thought that was about the coolest thing ever. But it’s a little too advanced for her. At almost 40 inches it’s quite a bit too much front loading for a kid with a 16” draw length.


Price: $44.99

Caliber: .177

Velocity: 750 fps – BBs / 665 fps - pellets

Length: 37.6 in.

Weight: 3.7 lbs.


Daisy® Model 25 Pump-Action Gun

OG Zombie Gun.

I haven’t had opportunity to try one of these modern versions but several friends had 80s-90s models and all I remember is it taking more than one of us to pull back the pump action. Less finger pinching though so I was looking at it for a minute – then I noticed the size. Same as the 880. So maybe later.


Price: $44.99

Caliber: .177

Velocity: 350 fps

Length: 37 in.

Weight: 3 lbs.


Benjamin® Armada Magpul® Edition .22 Caliber

For the Junior Chris Kyle in your household.

Really this is just here to represent some of the higher end options. I wasn’t even aware stuff like this existed until a few years ago. Yes I want to play with one. But no way am I going to throw my 6-year-old behind one. Man that looks fun though…


Price: $999.99

Caliber: .22

Velocity: 1000 fps

Length: 42.8 in.

Weight: 8.2 lbs.


The Baby.

My youngest. She will not be happy when her big sister opens her gun. Sadly for her it will be a couple of years before she’s big or old enough to wield her own Weapon of Backyard Destruction. I reckon she’ll just have to settle for being spoiled a whole lot too much in the meantime.

I look forward to teaching her all the lessons that go with getting your first BB Gun. These are my three favorite human beings. I want to teach them everything I can.

At the same time, Tristan already grew too fast too quick. And it’s certainly bittersweet that my Big Girl is gun age now. So, as far as The Baby goes, I’m fine with waiting.


Now, for fun, here’s another picture of The Boy at 6-years-old with a BB Gun that I like a lot but couldn’t find a good place for it.

Does anyone out in Internetland have any words of wisdom or suggestions for guns I haven’t listed? If so please comment below or hit us up on ye olde Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.