Like it or not, it sometimes happens that someone winds up doing a rain dance on the day you planned to go whitetail hunting. While you may not appreciate the result of such an activity, there are going to be days when you have to deal with a little, or a lot of, rain. Although forecasting has come a very long way, work schedules don't always cooperate with nature and sometimes the only choice you have is to get a little wet if you want to get a deer.
The good news is that to a deer, rain is not really a big deal. They remain active during precipitation just as any other day, especially during extended storms lasting several days. They have to eat and drink after all, so sitting on the couch in front of the TV is not something a deer would do if it could. Instead, deer will go about business as usual barring a severe torrential downpour, which is why you should consider doing the same.
The thing about rain is that it bothers the hunter far more than the deer. It is almost as if the deer are somehow aware that many hunters will call it a day when the storm clouds roll in because it is in periods of rain that deer seem their most relaxed, as if they know the threat is reduced during those times. Then again, this relaxation could be attributed to the sound of rain; rather than each snap, crack, and pop in the woods being alarming on a dry day, those sounds are muted in a storm, drowned out as they become part of a natural cacophony that has a calming effect on whitetail.
Now that we know the deer will not only be moving about but will also be doing so in more of a laid back state, the question that remains is why aren't we out there doing the same? Rather than hide from a less than stellar day, all you have to do is adjust your strategy a little bit. For example, waterproof gear and additional warmth will be more important. Additionally, you want to leave non-essential electronics at home as those can be destroyed by water. Instead, keep it simple, bringing only what you need and pack it in a bag that water cannot access.
Since deer have needs to meet regardless of weather, expect to see them in the usual places. This includes feeding areas as well as trails on which you've seen evidence of travel, such as those leading to a drinking source. Arriving in the field early is advised but if that is not possible, avoid the midday and opt for an evening hunt. When it is wet, deer conduct their evening movements a bit earlier than usual, so keep that in mind and ensure you are in position within plenty of time. Deer naturally feel less threatened during times when light is low, so combine that with their relaxed manner during a downfall and take advantage of dawn and dusk.
If you hunt on public land and find that there are some locations where people flock to, perhaps a rainy day hunting opportunity will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Since wet weather tends to keep many hunters at home, setting out despite the storm may give you a crack at areas that are often too crowded to hunt on a normal day. Having this additional elbow room can certainly make a little drizzle worth enduring.
Photo: Backyard Neighbor
One thing you may need to modify during a wet-weather hunt, however, is your ability to listen and hear what's important. Storms can be noisy, whether it is the crack of thunder or merely a drizzle falling on leaf litter. It is the sound of falling rain that you are going to have to learn to tune out or listen through in order to hear a deer approach. Just as the downfall may muffle your movements, it will also muffle those of deer, making it necessary to listen more sharply and watch more keenly. Additionally, since a lot of people find a storm to be enjoyable because of the noise it makes, it is important not to become so tranquil that you yourself nod off and miss the deer you've been wanting all season.
The main drawback when it comes to hunting in a downfall, however, is that tracking wounded game in the rain can be tougher. Since wet ground darkens, a blood trail will be more difficult to see even when fresh but rain that continues to fall will not make it any easier. Don't let this deter you; instead let it remind you to take only calculated risks as you patiently wait for a more definite kill shot as opposed to one that is less of a sure thing.
Though the natural inclination when the weather is gloomy is to hide inside, don't be afraid to give rainy day hunting a try. You will want to avoid lightning and be careful on wet terrain, but barring these things, a little rain can be a friend rather than foe. After all, there is a reason waterproof gear is available and that reason is because life goes on even on days the weather doesn't cooperate. Deer go about business as usual regardless of weather because they have to eat to survive. If you want to eat a deer, you should consider doing the same.
Are you a fan of rainy day hunting? What do you like or dislike about hunting in a downfall? Let us know in the comments.