Hunting in the rain may not sound like it is worth it to some hunters, but others have killed giants on a rainy day. Did they get lucky? Maybe. Is there a science to it? Definitely. Regardless of if you like rain or not, the deer still have to live in it and it can alter their movement patterns. You can take advantage of this. Knowing how rain affects whitetail can be key to hunting big bucks with a less than ideal forecast and adds another tool to your arsenal. The more tools you have, the more likely you will be to bag your trophy buck. The most important thing about hunting in the rain is just to actually get out in the stand. Like my dad always says “You can’t kill’em from the hotel”.
Light Rain Vs Building An Ark
So let’s get one thing straight right off the bat, If it is raining super hard and just an absolute downpour, stay home. Nobody wants to be out in that, not even the deer. In a downpour, nothing is going to be moving very much at all. Even if it did, could you even see well enough to take a shot? Maybe with a rifle, probably not with a bow. Not to mention how challenging it would be to try to track a deer in weather like that. This post is going to talk about a light to moderate rain, a reasonable amount of rain for you to be sitting in.
The most important factor when you are hunting in the rain is being prepared. You need to dress for the rain. This means you definitely need a rain suit, waterproof boots, and the whole nine yards. Keeping yourself dry and warm is going to be the key factor that lets you stay out in the rain for an extended period of time. The longer you are in the woods, the better your chances are.
The other option is to use a sturdy box blind. Dressing in your normal warm hunting clothes and then sitting inside a box blind can be the most comfortable option when it is raining. A box blind will keep you dry and also keep the wind off of you. Plus with the soundproofing of the box blind added sound of the rain, you can even get away with sneaking a small heater in there too.
Benefits of Hunting Whitetail in The Rain
When it is raining, it is much harder for deer to single out specific sounds. With raindrops hitting everywhere, hearing becomes a secondary sense. The rain also messes with their ability to smell. Some say that rain helps a whitetail’s sense of smell, but this is not true. The rain makes it more difficult for all animals to smell because the molecules that deer would smell are more likely to get stuck on a water molecule when it is raining. So with light rain, their sense of smell may not be impacted as much. With rain normally comes the wind. As we all know, wind plays a major factor in a whitetail’s ability to smell. Either way, when it is raining, there is less need to worry about your scent.
When it is raining, the ground obviously gets wet. This can make it an easy entry to your hunting spot. The leaves are not crunchy, and you can slip in undetected. Unfortunately, so can the deer. Whitetail are already super quiet walking through the woods. On a rainy day, you really need to be scanning and paying attention. You can’t get by with the half asleep, eyes closed, “oh I’ll hear them if they walk by approach” that I use from time to time…(I know you’ve done it too).
On the bright side, with the rain and wind, there are more moving parts in the woods. This means you can also move more than normal, and if you are spotted, your movement will be forgiven much easier.
One more benefit of hunting in the rain is if you do not want to be out there, no one else does either. This means that you will be one of the few crazy hunters who are one the property. There will be considerably fewer people in tree stands on public land as well. So this means you can get into those honey holes that are normally covered up with hunters and put the smackdown on the buck that they have been chasing.
Deer Movement In Rain
When it is raining, deer move differently. We also know that they are more likely to be moving throughout the day instead of just the mornings or evenings. The only way to kill a big buck is to be out there when they are. Assuming you have not figured out how to read their minds (let me know if you do), you should hunt the whole day and see what happens. Again, if the weather is just miserable I would not bother. If the rain is bearable, then the chances of you seeing a good buck are definitely increased.
When light to moderate rain comes through, there is a noticeable change in air pressure. Sometimes a light rain can bring a low pressure, but if there is a big front coming through many times there is an increase in pressure. Bucks prefer days of high pressure. They are proven to move more throughout the day when the pressure is in the 30 – 30.40 inHg zone. So, when checking the weather for rain, also make sure you look at the predicted pressure. If the amount of rain is in between what you think is bearable and miserable, look to the barometric pressure as the deciding factor.
Where To Hunt Whitetail in The Rain
Deer will try their best to get the most they can out of their senses on a rainy day. Their best sense when it is raining is their sight. For this reason, you may want to hunt around large food sources like fields or flats. Hunt in places where deer can see for a long way, like fields or food plots. You should also consider hunting the trails that lead to these areas. If there is light rain, but you know that there will be a heavy downpour later, you will want to hunt around thick bedding areas. Deer know that a storm is coming. After they have gone to the food sources to fill up, they are going to find a dry place to bed. The thicker the cover, the drier it will be in a storm.
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How To Hunt Whitetail in The Rain
You need to hunt a little differently in the rain. When it is raining, you will want to set in a stand that offers shorter shots. This is because rain quickly washes away blood trails. If you put a 60 yard shot on a buck with a bow, the chances of finding him are severely decreased. You need to set your stand where you will have a 20-30 yard shot so you know you can put an arrow right behind his shoulder.
If you are using a rifle, it is also a good idea to keep your shots short. 40-50 yards should be your max. Of course, this all depends on the amount of rain coming down. Keeping your shots short and being able to make a clean shot will make sure that you recover your buck. Hunting whitetail in the rain can be a challenge, but if you eliminate some opportunities to lose a buck, then you are more likely to be successful.
Tracking Whitetail in The Rain
It is easy for me to say “well just make a good clean shot so you don’t have to track that far”. Then you think “yeah duh that’s the idea every time”. I know, but my point is keeping your shots shorter and taking your time will help with this. Shot placement is everything. The last thing you want to do is to make a less than ideal shot on a buck in the rain. If your buck goes too far out of sight you are faced with two options, try to go track it soon after the shot, or give it time to die and risk losing the blood trail.
Even with heavy rain, ALWAYS give your deer time to die. Do not go in after it soon after your shot. I say this for two reasons, the first being your own safety. A wounded animal will do anything possible to get away from a predator. In the wrong situation, a whitetail can surely kill you. The second reason is that if you do chase after it, you could jump him. Then he knows your chasing him, so he will run hundreds of yards in the rain leaving a disappearing blood trail. In this case, your buck is as good as gone.
You should give your buck 30 minutes to an hour and then go in after it. If you made a good shot, he will not be far. If you didn’t make a great shot, then parts of the blood trail may still be there, depending on how much it is raining.
You should know the difference between hunting whitetail in light to moderate rain and hunting in a downpour. No one wants to hunt a downpour. A rainy day is a great time to take advantage of a whitetail’s senses. We know that bucks are more likely to move in the rain. We also discussed that we know where they should be hanging out at. Hunt close to food sources in light rain and near bedding areas when a downpour is coming. Also, scout out stand locations that will give you shorter shots and allow you to put deer down quickly. This reduces the chance of losing a deer to less than favorable tracking conditions.
Thanks for reading my article about hunting whitetail in the rain. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something you didn’t already know. If you like my content, subscribe to my weekly update. If you have any other questions about hunting whitetail in the rain or just want to connect, feel free to email me at Patrick.Long@omegaoutdoors.net.