Does Rain Impact Deer Hunting? Weather can be a HUGE Factor.
Dr. John Woods 12.28.20
Besides the obvious does a typical cold, fall to winter rain really impact deer hunting that much? Well, if you don’t like getting wet, then I would say yes. Certainly deer hunting in a steady rain can be very uncomfortable, but opinions vary widely on the real shock to deer hunting success in a rain. Then, it really depends on personal willingness to brave the elements.
I once sat in a 16-foot high tripod stand on a cleared trail off the end of a food plot. It was a cold, January day in the 30s with a steady northern wind clocking 10-15 MPH the whole morning. It was a pretty miserable day for deer hunting. About 10AM it commenced to rain, sideways. Lucky for me, the stand had a pretty good waterproof cover and roof on it. It leaked in spots and seams where not completely sealed, but I was dry. Had I tried to drive my ATV back to camp a mile away, I would have gotten soaked. I decided to brave it out.
I heard a sloshing sound in the mud coming down the trail behind the stand. As I peeked out the window seam a 6-point buck ran by as though he had an idea where he was going. There was no time for a shot, but I thought how crazy that buck was to be out in those conditions. I never forgot that deer encounter. Gary Starkey, of Mississippi, shares his thoughts on the matter of hunting in the rain:
“With over 30 years of experience hunting whitetails, I have rarely seen a rain keep deer from moving. The exception is a pouring rain or one with a steady wind. Then they will bed down to get out of the elements. With just a mist, or light sprinkling rain, deer keep on their feet trying to feed or breed. I have seen bucks move in the rain and shot a few. A light rain has never kept me from hunting, unless I just want to sleep in.”
Hunters should, of course, always monitor the weather several days before going afield. If a big, strong front is moving in then the best strategy is to wait it out until it passes, but then be ready to hit the woods as soon as the front blows through your area. Usually after such a storm in the winter the temps drop and deer have to get up moving and feeding. Don’t let post-storm showers keep you in bed. Get up and go. General rains do not seem to keep deer locked down.