If you’re not prepared for it hunting in the rain can be a miserable experience – especially if the wind is driving that rain in your face in an unrelenting wall of water.
How many times have you made plans to spend a week on vacation with friends on a hunting trip only to see your plans ruined by Mother Nature?
It can be a frustrating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. It turns out deer aren’t much bothered by rain. They’ll go on about their lives while you and your friends are skulking in your cabin wondering whether it’s best to cut your losses, pack up, and go home.
Light Rain versus Heavy Rain
There are exceptions to every rule and the same applies to deer and rain. Think about your reaction to the rain when you were a young child.
When faced with a steady drizzle, or even something a little heavier you weren’t that bothered by the conditions – you were still happy for any opportunity to play in the puddles.
The same pattern of behaviour applies to deer. No they aren’t interested in playing in the puddles, but a little bit of rain will not slow them down or change their behaviour patterns.
That doesn’t mean that deer will never change their behaviour because of rain.
If your hunting trip is interrupted by a torrential downpour marked by constant thunder and lightning there’s a good chance the deer are going to head for any available cover just like you. These are extreme conditions that aren’t fit for man or beast.
Fortunately these types of conditions normally don’t last very long. A steady drizzle on the other hand can last for hours or even days – in these conditions deer will go on about their daily lives.
You should continue with your hunt and not let a little rain scare you off.
What About the Wind?
The other common belief among hunters is that the wind will cause deer to head for cover. Is that true? Well that really depends just like it does with the rain. If we think back to our childhoods again we can use the same sort of analogy we did above.
A bit of a windy day wouldn’t have scared us away from the playground, but gale force winds would have convinced our parents that it was best for us to keep in doors. In heavy winds like that you never know what dangers you may face from flying debris.
The behaviour of deer isn’t that much different from our own in this instance either. They will not alter their behaviour significantly because of a little bit of wind.
They’ll go about their daily lives, foraging for food, staying alert for the danger of predators, and mating when it’s the season for it. They’ll still be more active at sunrise and sunset.
When a heavy wind rolls through that has the potential to cause some real damage a deer will head for the protection of cover deep in the foliage where they’re sheltered from the worst of the wind.
They intuitively know when a situation is really serious or just a minor annoyance. It’s up to you to be able to recognize the difference as well.
There’s Calm in the Storm
Personally I find the steady patter of rain to be extremely relaxing. It’s a peaceful sound that can take the edge off a stressful day.
When you’re out in the middle of the woods this sense of calm can be even more amplified because of the soft sound of the rain hitting the leaves in the trees and the wet dirt beneath you.
It’s a time when you actually feel a little closer to nature.
That peaceful feeling you experience during a steady drizzle is the same type of experience that a deer has. They feel more relaxed in the rain and that’s partially because predators like us instinctively seek shelter when it rains – for all intents and purposes they have the forest to themselves!
A determined hunter can take advantage of this sense of security the deer is feeling. Deer may seem like docile creatures to begin with, but they’re even more so in the rain.
Dulls the Senses
The rain and wind doesn’t give you a sense of calm. It also affects your senses. They’re not as sharp and they can be deceptive.
On a clear sunny day every snapping twig and rustle of leaves tends to indicate that an animal is near, but when the rain is coming down and the wind is rustling the leaves it’s hard to tell what’s caused by the weather and what happens to be an animal passing by.
For the hunter this means you have to rely less on your sense of hearing and more on your sense of sight.
This may not be the disadvantage you think it is though. It just so happens that the deer’s senses are dulled by the inclement weather as well.
In fact, for the hunter that isn’t scared off by a little bit of weather it may actually even out the playing field. Deer have a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing, but these senses are thrown off by the wind and the rain.
They tend to feel less threatened in the rain and that can actually give the hunter a window of opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Be Prepared for the Conditions
Hunting in the wind and the rain doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience as long as you’re prepared for the conditions. Make sure you have warm waterproof gear and you’ll hardly notice a difference.
If you’re hunting from a box or other cover the rain should hardly affect you at all. The only thing you’ll really have to be concerned about is that the peaceful sound of the rain doesn’t distract you from the task at hand.
You should also probably leave most electronic equipment back at the hunting camp such as your smartphone and GPS systems to prevent water damage.
It’s best to take with you only the minimal amount of gear you’ll actually need for the hunt. Leave everything else back at the base.
If you follow these simple guidelines and ignore any suggestions that deer are less active in the rain and the wind you may actually have one of your most successful hunting trips ever.