You have been there, it is opening morning, the morning deer hunters wait for all year. You alarm wakes you and you can hear the rain. It isn’t sprinkling it is raining. The doubt creeps in and the questions start filling your mind. Am I going to sit all day and be cold and soaked? Do deer move in the rain? You break through the doubt, get dressed and head to your stand. Deer hunting in the rain is not for everyone, but it may be for you.
Depending on where you live and when your state’s deer hunting seasons are, you will run into rainy weather. Every hunter knows that different weather conditions affect deer movement. Maybe you have read about how deer act in certain weather, or maybe you experienced it firsthand. Either way, every hunter can agree that deer are somewhat unpredictable, but usually follow similar habits based on the weather conditions. This article is to share my experiences and research with other hunters about deer behavior in the rain, and how best to hunt them in this inclement weather.
Like most animals, deer are very active in the days preceding a storm or a stretch of any kind of bad weather. They head out to forage for food prior to the front coming through. This is a safeguard in case the storm is much more severe than usual. If it ends up being a bad weather system that comes through, the deer have already eaten enough to last them until the weather lets up. Have ever noticed how you see so many deer while you are driving before a big storm, this is the reason. If you have the flexibility at home and work, paying attention to weather conditions and hunting before a storm can pay huge dividends.
If the seed of doubt won and you stayed home during the rain. My experience is that was not the best decision. Many hunters believe it that deer won’t move during rainy conditions, but it turns out that deer movement isn’t negatively impacted by rain. This is in dependent on the type of rainstorm. Deer love light rains because it softens up all the brush that they would be stepping on. Softer brush means they draw less attention to themselves from predators. Whitetails also love the fact that the rainy conditions keep their scent from traveling as far, helping them evade predators even more.
While deer love light showers, they do not particularly like to be active during heavy showers or storms. Bedding down is the deer’s go-to when it gets any worse than a moderate shower. They like to stay out of the elements and stay warm and cozy during bad weather, just like humans. Deer can sense how severe a storm will be. They will stock up on more food if they know a storm is going to be bad.
Now that you know deer are active during light showers and intermittent storms. You might be wondering how you hunt in the rain. Don’t worry, as the rest of this article is going to help you be to more effective when hunting in inclement weather.
Those who hunt out of blinds can feel free to skip this step. For the hunters who don’t hunt out of blinds, the first and most obvious point that needs to be covered is that the hunter needs to be ready to be miserable. Even if you wear your best raingear, rain is still going to get through and you will still get wet. If you are making the effort to hit the stand, you might as well be prepared to sit for as long as possible and wait for a deer. The saying that applies to situation is “Embrace The Suck”. I personally don’t have the flexibility to skip days, and if it is a day I can hunt I am going to. Need some motivation to embrace the bad weather? Read the next section.
If you are trying to find a reason why it is a good idea to go deer hunting in the rain, this might pique your interest. Mature bucks in general, do not like to move in the daylight hours. They try to limit daylight movement as much as they possibly can. Luckily for hunters, big deer move before, during, and after any type of weather activity, excluding a torrential downpour. This can be one of the only chances a hunter will get to see that huge whitetail they see on their trail cam. If this doesn’t get you out in the field, nothing will! Now let’s move on to some real rain tactics for deer.
If possible, it is vitally important that you stay out on the stand all day long. While the majority of whitetail deer hunters focus on early morning or later evening hunts. In general, but especially in rainy weather, deer can show up at any point. Stay for as long as you can and you might well be rewarded, as deer move erratically during inclement weather. This goes back to the “Prepare Yourself” section. You need to be prepared to be uncomfortable for a long period of time.
It is important to keep something in the back of your mind: rain washes away blood trails. This is especially a key point for archery hunters. It is imperative that you only take shots that are close and sure shots. If you know you can quickly kill the deer from that distance and angle, then do it. If not, don’t take the chance, as the blood trail can be impossible to follow. The important thing you need to decide is whether you will wait for the deer to bed down and expire. This depends on the forecast and how hard it is raining. It essentially comes down to your personal judgement call based on the factors mentioned.
The locations that you hunt during normal weather are still great locations to hunt during the rain. Don’t be scared to hunt your usual trails, feeding and transition areas. Deer will be anywhere at any given time during a rainy day, so never be caught off guard. Some places to give a try on a rainy day are places like ridge saddles and spins, crop field edges, and stream crossings. Always be alert, as the deer move quietly when everything is wet!
So, what should a deer hunter take from all this? Simply put, as long as there are not torrential downpours occurring, deer will be on the move. In fact, it might be many hunters’ best shot at killing that huge buck they’ve been seeing on their trail cams. By using the methods covered in this article, you will be well on your way to bagging deer when most hunters won’t leave the comfort of their homes. Deer hunting in the rain is not for the faint of heart, embrace the suck and you can reap the rewards. If you are looking for more whitetail deer hunting content check out our Whitetail 101 section.