Is deer hunting in the rain worth it, even if you and your weapon get wet? Let’s learn if rain, or how much rain, justifies sitting on the couch instead of deer hunting.
When deer hunting in the rain makes sense.
Deer activity isn’t affected by most rainfall. Their skin produces a water repellant oil that coats their fur, leaving them dry. Until the intensity of the precipitation drowns their ability to hear, see, and smell the environment around them, deer will maintain regular activity and movements.
The truth is deer are far less affected by rainfall than deer hunters. Deer hunters worry about their rifles and scopes. They get cold and start to shiver. Once they have had one bad experience with cheap gear and cold, soaked skin, they avoid even a light sprinkle of rain, often for the rest of their lives.
Deer, on the other hand, live outdoors. Rain is part of their environment but doesn’t alter their behavior unless it’s pouring out. Deer will still travel the same routes on a rainy day. The only thing missing will be you.
Related: Where is the best place to shoot a deer?
What about deer hunting in the rain during a downpour?
Deer will eventually react to heavier and heavier amounts of rain. How and where you will find them depends on the amount of falling precipitation.
In colder weather, deer will want to continue moving until the rain soaks through their fur and degrades their ability to thermoregulate (stay warm). In warmer weather, as the rainfall increases and reduces the information deer collect through their senses, deer will seek shelter among the trees.
Related: Deer hunting in the wind.
Moderate rainfall and deer behavior.
During moderate rainfall, deer will leave open fields and find cover in the woods. But long before the front arrives, the deer will have sensed its approach. In anticipation of a moderate to a heavy rain storm, deer will feed early.
While deer are aware of the coming storm, they lack an idea of how long it will last. This lack of a weather forecast can send deer into a feeding frenzy, unaware of when the next opportunity to eat will come.
Knowing where the deer tend to feed the most, many hunters who have quiet, water resistant clothing get out ahead of or during the opening stages of a forecasted rainfall and take advantage of this opportunity.
Another, admittedly hard to prove, idea is that deer have learned to associate moderate and heavy rain with a lack of human activity. This sense of safety is just one thing a deer hunter can use as an edge.
The other ways a deer hunter can improve their odds during a moderate rainfall are:
- Use the wet leaves and ground cover to silence their stalk.
- Worry less about their scent being detected.
- More closely approach deer bedded down and calm instead of hyper-alert and scanning their surroundings.
- Exploit the tendency of deer to become more docile in the lower light of heavy cloud cover.
Related: The best deer hunting calibers.
Don’t bother going deer hunting in the rain when it is pouring out.
Unlike a frog’s butt, you and your gear are not water-proof. While deer hunting in the rain has it’s advantages, even a prize buck isn’t worth that rifle scope you paid hundreds of dollars for this year.
When it its raining cats and dog, watch a few deer hunting videos and have a coffee. You can always go deer hunting right after the storm passes over.