Is Rain Really Your Enemy?
Come hunting season and there are scores of outdoorsmen with their smartphones, radios and late night television permanently tuned to the local weather channel. Hunters live and die by two things – the rut and the weather. Vacations are planned, days off shifted and family outings cancelled all based on whether or not the weather will be good for hunting. Historically rain has been one of the “oh no” forecasts, sending hunters to the office instead of the treestand. But are they making a sound decision or wasting a day afield?
It is a commonly held belief that if it is raining hunters might as well stay home, any time spent in the stand will be wasted and only risk burning the site. But this not entirely true. Yes, a hard coming down in buckets rain will cause deer to seek cover and bed down. Any traveling they do during this time will be limited and along established routes. Any other time the rain is unlikely to impact their routine, they will still need to eat and, if the rut is on, hunt for mates. There is actually more of a chance weather which is too nice, unseasonably warm, causing deer to become nocturnal.
Okay, so rain does not stop deer from moving but that doesn’t exactly make the case for sitting in a stand and getting soaked. How about if I told you the rain might even increase your chances? Yep, that’s right the one thing you have always thought was a negative might actually be a positive. You see the rain can decrease the spread of scent, always a positive. It can also reduce the noise you produce moving to and from your stand, also a plus. Finally, many experts believe deer will move more during an extended steady rain, maybe because they start feeling comfortable as if lulled by the steady sound of light water. Unfortunately these same issues can sometimes lean in the deer’s favor as well. The scent you placed will not travel as far and you may not hear even the biggest buck approach on wet leaves. Of course deer moving more means there is an increased chance of bumping one unexpectedly so use the extra stealth as much as possible. In essence you will both be hunting blind, but you will still be hunting!
Once you’ve made the decision to brave the rain you need to prepare properly. First, you need the proper rain gear. Most hunting clothing is designed to keep you warm, few are designed to withstand a steady drizzle so select wisely. Second, make sure you are ready to sit all day. Since deer are likely to move more during the rain there is no telling when you may get lucky so you need to stay ready. Third, don’t forget to be careful. Everything will be wet and that means slippery so be careful covering slick terrain, swollen streams and especially your tree stand.
Good luck, good hunting!