fbpx

Hunting in the Rain: Waste of time or worth the effort?

By Ralph ScherderDecember 4, 2019

LAST UPDATED: October 11th, 2021

Boomers in the distance gave me pause on my way to my treestand. According to forecasts, the heavy stuff was supposed to veer off to the south. Mainly what I expected was rain, lots of rain, and that’s exactly what happened.

A good old-fashioned downpour. Despite heckling from friends, I donned my raingear and headed out anyway.

For me, rain is just something you have to get through – as long as it’s just rain. Sitting in a metal treestand during a lightning storm is lunacy, and no buck is worth getting fried over. But rain is a different story and a temporary inconvenience. It’s what happens after the rain stops that’s magical.

Does Habitat Impact A Buck's Home Range?

About an hour and a half before dark, the rain tapered off and the sun started poking through. Sunlight glinted in every water drop dangling from the foliage. I pulled off my hood and lifted my face to the warmth.

My stand was in a tight funnel between crop fields. Smack in the middle of the funnel were three apple trees. Trail cameras on those trees recounted many after-dark visits of bucks, but I had a hunch this storm would get them up on their feet earlier than usual.

No sooner had I thought that and I noticed a sapling trembling to my right about thirty yards away. The foliage was so thick that I saw just the glimmer of a rack working the lower part of the sapling. Right away I knew it was one of the bigger eight points on the cameras.

Bucks-in-Rain-1
The author road out the rain to kill this nice PA buck.

 

The foliage camouflaged my movements and allowed me to get into shooting position. A few minutes later, the buck finally tired of the tree and headed for the apples.

When it got to an opening, I dropped my sights on his chest and let it fly. The buck bolted, made a quick semi-circle, and dropped only fifty yards away.

Bad Weather Benefits

Everyone has their own ideas about hunting in the rain, but I’ve always favored it. Rain, especially in the early season and again during the rut, gets bucks on their feet earlier than usual and moving around during legal shooting hours.

That’s good news if you’re hunting food sources such as apple trees, food plots, or even acorn flats, where most visits occur after dark.

Immediately following rainstorms can be great times to ambush mature whitetails that might otherwise be nocturnal. I’ve seen it happen time and again, and monitoring trail cameras has reinforced it for me.

Following a rain, big bucks get on their feet. Even better is when it’s an afternoon rainstorm that clears out early enough that the sun pokes through a little before dark. Deer movement in general spikes then.

Barometric pressure stabilizes and wildlife feels good. It’s very similar to the conditions when the fish all of a sudden start to bite.

How To Use The Huntstand App For Turkey Hunting

Rain is a natural scent killer that washes away all traces of your presence. The scent where you walked is now so diluted that deer no longer see it as a threat. Rain can also be a silencer. Soft, wet leaves make it easier to sneak into that iffy stand that’s extremely close to a bedding area.

Many hunters sit out rainstorms because of the comfort factor. Who the heck wants to be soaked and miserable out there on stand?

 

Good raingear makes it easier, though, and when used in conjunction with a treestand umbrella, you can have a relatively comfortable sit. There’s always the ground blind option, too.

During the rut, bucks are already active. Add a warm fall rain to the mix and bucks will be on their feet all day.

Bucks-in-Rain-2
Do deer actually move better on the backside of rain moving through?

Is It Ethical?

Some hunters have an “ethical” problem with hunting in the rain in that they fear rain will wash away the blood trail. That can happen – almost anything is possible, after all – but if you’re afraid of that, then falling snow should be an issue for you, too, as well as high winds which can stir up the leaves enough to cover blood.

All types of weather have the ability to ruin a blood trail. Have you ever let a buck sit over night after a shot? I have. 

Archery hunt enough years and get enough opportunities and eventually every hunter faces the dilemma of whether to keep pushing a wounded animal or come back in the morning. Of course, what happens if a storm moves in through the night?

Goodbye, blood trail. However, if I was truly concerned about rain spoiling my chances of recovery, I’d have watched the weather and seen they were calling for rain that night, and not even gone out in the first place just in case I couldn’t recover the deer before the storm moved in. Sounds paranoid, doesn’t it?

Bucks-in-Rain-3
Don't let rain be an excuse that keeps you from spending time in the stand and punching tags this season.

Much of our paranoia about the weather, I believe, comes down to our confidence in our shooting skills. The real question isn’t whether or not the rain will wash away a blood trail. The real question is what if I make a bad shot?

A vitally-shot animal will not run far. Heart-shot or double-lung hit deer will usually expire within 100 yards. Most of the time I’ve watched them drop within sight.

The only trouble I’ve ever had finding deer were with those questionable hits – liver, stomach, etc – where the deer ran a considerable distance or else there wasn’t any blood trail to follow anyway, regardless of whether it was raining or not.

 

Things can go wrong, mistakes happen, deer flinch, arrows deflect, or sometimes you just blow the shot. I’ve experienced all of those situations, and each time weather was a non-factor, and recovery only happened as a result of a methodical search and the process of elimination.

Practice In All Types Of Weather

If you want to improve your accuracy in the rain or snow, practice shooting while wearing your rain gear or heavy winter clothes. And actually, whenever possible, practice while wearing your regular hunting clothes, too.

There’s a big difference between drawing your bow while wearing a tee-shirt in your backyard versus from a treestand wearing all your hunting garb. The more you can simulate “real world” hunting conditions during your practice sessions, the deadlier you’ll be during all types of weather.

Deer season is long, but that doesn’t mean there will be opportunities galore every time you hit the woods. In truth, during every season there are only a handful of days when the stars align and even the most cautious bucks are on their feet. Don’t waste one of them just because it’s raining.

Ralph Scherder
Ralph Scherder is a full time award-winning writer and photographer from Butler, PA, where he lives with his wife Natalie, two kids Sophia and Jude, and an English Setter named Charlie. He has hunted and fly fished all over North America, and God willing, will continue to do so for many years to come.
Post a Comment
Login To Account

Your email address will not be published.