Deer Hunting in the Rain: Good or Bad Idea?
Good news for the avid deer hunter, the rain really means very little to whitetail deer. So long as it is not pouring and the wind isn’t blowing too hard, whitetails will continue with their normal activities and behaviors. What does this mean to you? It means that even if there is a light rain or steady drizzle, you can still enjoy a day of hunting while most of the other hunters have chalked the day up as a loss. However, before heading out, you will want to be prepared. Here is some useful information that will help on your next wet hunting excursion.
Deer Movements During Rain
As stated above, deer will continue their normal behaviors in a light or steady rain. The only time their behaviors are affected is when it’s raining hard and/or if the wind is blowing hard. However, what we consider a heavy rain and what deer consider a heavy rain might be totally different. With that said, go to your favorite hunting spot on a rainy day and keep your eyes open. Did you see any deer? Was it raining hard or light and steady? Knowing this information will help to better ensure a successful trip during the hunting season.
Strategies for Rainy Days
The key factor to any strategy, rainy or not, is to get moving. Don’t be that person that burrows deeper into their sleeping bag on a rainy day, get up and get moving. You can’t find any deer inside, they are all outside and waiting for you.
The next part of your strategy should be to travel light. All of the extra gear you would normally take, and that can get damaged in wet conditions, should be left behind. Only take what you need to get your deer. For rain gear, consider wicking long-johns. These will help to keep warm even when you are getting wet from the rain. Along with a rain poncho, make sure you wear the proper amount of hunter-orange.
The next factor of your strategy is where to hunt. Your normal spots should still be active with deer, however, consider other hot spots. With most other hunters staying warm and dry back home or at camp, there will be plenty of open spots that would normally be occupied by other hunters during better weather.
Tracking in the Rain
Tracking in ideal conditions can be a challenge, now imagine how it would be in the rain. In fact, other than the high probability of being wet all day, tracking is probably the only other downfall to hunting in the rain. Finding a wounded deer on rainy days is nearly impossible. Blood trails are easily washed away and any signs of a hit are also subject to rain’s cleansing nature. Therefore, it’s best to avoid this situation altogether. Do this by avoiding risky shots, long-range shots, or any other shot that you are not 100 percent sure you can make. Aiming right behind the shoulder and in the center of the deer is the best way to ensure a successful kill without having too much of a risk of having to track it afterward.
Another aspect that we need to mention is spooking the deer. While deer tend to let their guard down a little when it’s raining, it does not mean that they cannot be spooked and scared off before you have a chance to make your shot. So, hunt as you would in normal weather and be as unnoticeable as you can. Having time to make your shot will help to reduce the chances of having to try and track your target.
Gear for Hunting in the Rain
We touched on this briefly earlier in this article. However, we are going to revisit it since it is such an important aspect to hunting in the rain. To help make the process of knowing what to bring easier, here is a checklist of items that have been proven to be effective:
- A durable water repellent outer layer should be the first item you buy if you don’t have one already. Look for an outer layer that not only prevents wetness from getting in but also allows vapor from perspiration to escape. There are plenty of high-quality rain gear options on the market that fits both of these requirements.
- For a jacket, look for something that is quiet but will keep you warm, such as a fleece shell. Again, there are plenty of jackets on the market that will help to keep you comfortable in wet weather without roasting you from the inside out.
- Consider hunting in a blind. We know, there is a large population of hunters that don’t like hunting from a blind. However, if your deer season is looking to be a wet one, you might want to give it a shot. Not only does it provide you with a way of staying dry, it also provides you with a great position for keeping an eye on the trails you scouted before the season began.
Yes, there will probably be fewer hunters in the woods on rainy days than on ideal days. However, that does not mean you can skimp out on safety. Be mindful of your surroundings, wear the proper amount of hunter-orange as directed by your local hunting laws, and always pay attention to what’s behind the direction you are shooting in. You can bag the “Godzilla” of whitetail bucks but it means squat if you or someone else is hurt in the process.
There you have it. Hunting in the rain can be just as rewarding as hunting on a day of ideal weather. So long as you are properly prepared for being wet, have the right gear, and pay attention to what you are doing, there is nothing stopping you from turning a “wasted” rainy day into a backdrop on how you nailed “the big one.” Good luck and be safe.