Not many people want to venture out in the rain because they find it wet and uncomfortable. However, if you’re a bowhunter looking to shoot some deer, hunting in the rain may actually be a good choice for you.
I have hunted deer in the rain so many times in the past, and I can tell you that while it may seem a little inconvenient at first, it normally pays off because my success rate usually increases during the rainy season.
But don’t just go rushing off in the rain unprepared! Before you decide to hop on your truck and head off to the hunting grounds, you should make sure you’re fully equipped for the weather first.
Today, I want to share seven useful tips I learned when deer hunting in the rain with bow, and I want to share them all with you.
1. Just Go To The Hunting Grounds!
Some bowhunters make the mistake of staying indoors during a slight drizzle because they think that their game will be hiding out, too. However, Grand View Outdoors debunks a myth about how deer’s activities cease during a rainy day, saying that deer find no reason to alter their routine because rain is just something that happens to them irregularly.
I’ve learned that unless there’s a storm or a heavy downpour that lasts for hours, deer would still go out about their day as if it were a bright, cloudless day. This means you have to be out there on the field with them if you want to increase your chances of bringing home some venison meat for dinner.
Going out for bowhunting during a rainy day may also prove advantageous because you won’t have as much competition as you would on a sunny day. As I have already mentioned, many bowhunters do not make an effort to shoot game when it’s raining, so the hunting grounds will be quieter and less crowded.
2. Pack Only The Essentials
Moving in the rain could be difficult, so avoid bringing extra items that may slow you down. Game and Fish makes a good list of examples of what not to bring during a rainy day shoot. These include any electronic devices that may short circuit when they get wet.
However, I recommend still bringing your cell phone because you may need it to contact someone in case of an emergency. Just make sure it is packed properly, either in plastic or any waterproof bag, so that it won’t get ruined because of all the moisture in the field.
I also recommend leaving your camera, range finder. You may want to skip on bringing any cooking and survival gear, too. A GPS unit may come in handy if you’re not familiar with the terrain; otherwise, I’d leave it behind, too.
Just remember to bring the essentials - your bow, a flashlight, and maybe a pocket knife. Leave everything else that may affect your movements and make you sluggish while trudging out in the forest mud.
3. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Because you’re going hunting out in the rain, you should expect to get wet at one point or another. With this in mind, I suggest choosing clothes that will keep you warm even when you become wet.
Ideal clothes may include you usual camouflage shirt and pants, a hat, a jacket or windbreaker, gloves, and a mask to protect your face from excess moisture. You can also wear a rain gear, but try to choose something that is quiet so you don’t scare off your target even before you get into a good shooting range.
Although normal hunting shoes could work, I still recommend wearing rubber boots because they will keep your feet dry and will keep mud off your feet, which may help you move more easily and allow you to cover more ground.
4. Know The Deer’s Hotspots During Rainy Days
While light to moderate rains won’t usually affect a deer’s activities - meaning it will still go out and eat and walk around - they may affect a deer’s preference on where to “hang out”.
Most deer may avoid muddy trails because they don’t like mud caking their hooves, much how we don’t like getting mud all over our shoes. Instead, deer will likely stay on rocky ridges or field edges, or in river and stream crossings where the soil may not be as soaked.
Try to go back to the deer’s natural feeding spots you scouted before hunting season and make an educated guess on where a deer may hang out to eat and socialize. These may include orchards, cornfields, and plant thickets and bushes.
5. Pick Your Shots
While deer hunting in the rain may be a good idea, it can still be problematic if you keep missing your shots.
Try not to be overwhelmed or overly excited when you see a group of deer feeding in the area where you’re set up for the day. Instead, choose your target, take your time when aiming, and try to make a clean shot that will hit the deer’s vital point.
Try to avoid going for long-range shots because there’s a bigger chance that you will miss your target’s vital spots. Remember: Just as a deer will have a hard time detecting your scent because of the rain, you will also have a hard time trailing an injured deer because the rain will easily wash off any trace of blood it has left behind.
Looking for a fallen deer the next morning may be hard to do, and I find that it is also cruel to shoot a deer and let it wander in the forest to bleed out slowly. So look for opportunities where you’re sure your arrow will hit the right spot and you can make a quick, clean kill.
6. Wait Out Heavy Rains
Light drizzles and moderate rains may not affect a deer’s routine all that much (or at all), but heavy rains definitely will. Just like you would prefer to stay indoors during a thunderstorm or a heavy downpour, deer and other animals would likely want to do the same.
Don’t be stubborn if you can see that the weather condition is very unfavorable. Heavy rains may make you prone to more accidents and it’s harder to set up a rescue when no one can go to you in the muddy hunting grounds.
7. Use Drying Out Periods After Heavy Rains To Your Advantage
Heavy rains are best spent indoors where you are safe and warm, but drying out periods after these are a great opportunity to continue your hunt.
Deer would usually be hungry after staying in their bed for a long time, and they may be more willing to stay still in areas where there is an abundance of food. Pick these spots and make up for the time you lost when you stayed indoors during the heavy rains.
You can also set up in spots where you think deer would have made their bed during a heavy rainfall. Ideally, this would be a spot that provides thick protective cover, like hidden meadows or trees and bushes with thick leaves.
I cannot overemphasize how important it is to be prepared when going on a deer hunt during a rainy day. Safety should still be your first concern, so if you feel that heading off the hunting grounds may put you in danger, then I advise holding it off, no matter how attractive the prospect of shooting a deer is.
Did you find my tips useful? Do you have other tips you’d like to share with other bowhunters? Drop a line in the comments’ section below. I’d love to hear more! And please share this article with your bowhunter friends. Who knows? This may just help them on their next hunting trip, too.