Deer Hunting in the Rain
Deer hunting in the rain can be extremely rewarding depending on your attitude, preparation, and approach. The primary hurdle seems to be attitude, since many hunters simply hate the idea of going out in the rain. It is true that the sky is overcast, the environment is wet and dreary, and often towards middle to late fall it can get quite cold. Unbiased analysis, however, reveals that these are small considerations when contemplating a successful hunt.
While we live in comfortable houses, sheltered from inclement weather, deer are still living out in the wild with no structured shelter. They are used to dealing with whatever the weather happens to be. Rain is of minor consequence to them. They still need to forage for food and will continue moving about for that reason. The only real consideration they give to weather is extremely heavy downpours, thunderstorms, or high winds. In those instances, they will find the densest foliage possible and settle down for the duration.
Even during heavy rain, the rain density changes in an area over time and with cloud movement. Deer take advantage of these changes to get up, shake off the water, and move about. One hunter mentioned his experience with hunting dogs and stated his observation that wet conditions seem to improve an animal's sense of smell, so deer would feel more confident in moving around the wet woods. Still, the direction of a scent's origin could be difficult to determine, and while scents closer to the deer will be easier for them to detect, the rain will obliterate smells over any real distance.
Planning to hunt in the rain requires extra preparation. The most important part of your equipment for this weather is good quality rain gear. Up until the last few years, the only options were a noisy poncho or wearing wool, which still eventually gets wet and, therefore, makes you cold. These days there are options out there which protect you from the rain, but do not create a lot of noise when you move. The old maxim still holds true that you get what you pay for, so investigate what is best for you on your budget. Look for professional recommendations and find out what customer reviews are saying. Since hunting requires patience when waiting for your prey to make an appearance, whatever you choose needs to be something that will keep you warm and dry as long as possible, despite the rain.
It is also important to make sure your weapon is taken care of properly. Whether you are bow-hunting or using a gun, always dry everything thoroughly when you are finished using it (one guy tosses his bowstring in the dryer), and oil any parts that need it so that rust cannot set in and cause future problems. This way, you are already prepared for the next hunt.
The greatest advantage to a hunter in rainy conditions is probably the fact that wet leaves and foliage don't make as much noise as they do when things are dry. This makes it easier to move around and find a good observation spot without alerting deer in every direction of what your intentions are. It also allows for easier stalking if you feel a need to move or change your position.
Another thing to keep in mind is that cloud cover distorts a deer's perception of when daylight begins and ends. Some good-sized bucks - normally nocturnal animals, as a way of avoiding predators - have been brought down just after dawn or just as dusk sets in. Plan your day around this and you might be able to catch a larger prize.
Finally, and most importantly, as a rule of good hunting in general, you should make appropriate plans! Scout out the area where you want to hunt so you have some idea before the day of the hunt where the deer tend to travel, and how many deer are actually in the area. By doing this, you will do less random walking around, since you will already have target observation areas in mind. You might even be able to set up a tree stand or camouflaged observation post in advance, which would allow for better shelter from the rain.
Changing your attitude, preparing well with good equipment, and approaching your hunting site and prey with care and good planning are all important ingredients to a great hunt during what many consider to be adverse conditions. Perseverance pays off. While many hunters sit at home and complain about the weather, you could be out there with less competition and end up with a greater reward.