Every hunter wants to know where to go to bag the biggest bucks. Over the years, it’s become common knowledge that deer don’t move in in-climate weather, but is that really true? In today’s article, we explore this idea, with input from industry experts and peer studies.
We’ll talk about the bedding habits of deer, and even give you some tips for bagging a buck when hunting after rain storms. Oh yeah, and how to keep make a rainy day hunt a more comfortable experience.
Where Do Deer Go When It Rains or Snows?
This depends entirely on how bad the weather is. If the weather is mild, then the deer will likely care less about it.
Light rain or snow won’t stop them from going about their day, and you probably won’t see any change in their movement at all!
It’s when a torrential downpour starts that you’re likely to see them go into hiding. If this happens, then they will quickly move for cover.
For deer, this often means finding overgrowth, brush, and trees which form a protective barrier from the elements. Bigger bucks often like to do so at the end of a ridge, or with their backs up against a tree or other structure that provides greater security. They do this because it gives them a better vantage point to detect predators and be gone before they get there.
So, do whitetail deer move in the rain? Definitely.
Do Deer Bed Down In The Rain?
The answer to this one is yes and no. As previously stated, a light rain is unlikely to impact a deer’s activity. For them, a light rain is just something that happens sometimes. However, if we’re talking about a torrential down pour, then yes, deer are going to take cover, and you should too, honestly.
However, what counts as “heavy rain” for humans is not really that bad in the eyes of a deer. Even in moderate rain fall, deer may keep moving! The hairs in their coat are hollow, which provides excellent insulation, keeping them warm even when humans are shivering.
Just how many deer can you see in the woods on rainy days though?
Is it really worth your time to hunt in the rain? While in the past your only data would come from someone’s anecdotes, today’s technology gives us a deeper look into deer movement patterns and habits by collecting data from hunters all over the United States and comparing it, giving you the truth about deer movement patterns and rainy weather.
Quiver used their application’s data sampling to collect deer sightings and compare that to area forecasts. They found that, on average, hunters see 2.5 deer per hunt in good weather, and 2.35 deer in the rain.
This means that while there is a slight change in movement, there are still a lot of deer to be found, even on rainy days. By the way, if you’re looking for a good hunting app, Quiver offers some great stuff, including movement logs, barometric pressure data, field notes, weather forecasts, etc.
It’s a free download, but unfortunately, it looks like it’s only available on iPhones for now. Hopefully, in the future, they’ll make an Android version too!
Do Deer Move After Rain?
Okay, so do deer move after rains that are heavier? While there’s no solid research for this one, the overwhelming answer from experts is yes. In fact, this seems to be the best time to see deer on the move, especially bucks!
If it has been pouring rain for many hours (think 6 to 12), then the animals are likely to be hungry. They’ve bedded down before the rain started, and they’ve stayed there without eating. Deer are browsers, and they need to eat pretty frequently, typically five times per day.
This means that in the case of a torrential downpour, hunting after the rain could actually be a killer strategy. Using the information above, it’s easy to see why it would be easy for a patient hunter to take advantage of in-climate weather. However, you need to be craftier to accomplish this, so keep reading for some “after the rain” hunting strategies.
The Benefits Of Braving The Weather
Besides the obvious benefits of big buck movement after storms, there’s also another perk to hunting after the rain.
Since most hunters pack up and go home, or in some cases, never make it to the woods at all when it’s raining outside, you’ll have the forest all to yourself!
That’s a beautiful thing, and if you live in an area with a lot of hunters, that means a lot less hunting pressure on your hunting grounds. With less people making noise and leaving their scent, animals will be less wary, and you’re also likely to have an easier time spotting a nice deer.
However, hunting in the rain, or even in the snow, has another advantage. It actually makes it harder for deer to smell you, believe it or not. This has to do with the fact that rain and snow can actually dissipate scent molecules, meaning deer won’t be as easily able to detect you.
Expert whitetail hunters Chris and John Eberhart agree in Bowhunting Whitetails the Eberhart Way saying, “a hard rain… will dissipate odors more rapidly”.
Since rain and wind are also noisy, this can sometimes provide an advantage too. It makes the field of sound more cluttered, and it might be tougher for them to pick out the sound of predators among the rain drops. Not to mention the fact that wet leaves and sticks make less noise when stepped on to begin with.
This makes the cover of rain ideal to pack in, check trail cams, or to setup your tree stand without potentially spooking any deer in the area since they’ll be in hiding.
Strategies For Hunting After The Rain Has Passed
Setting up your tree stand near a food source towards the end of the rain storm can give you an advantage if you’ve been paying attention to the weather forecast. While this requires a good deal of planning, it can be worthwhile.
After the rain, bucks not only move out for food, but if you’re hunting during the rut, they’ll also want to refresh their scrapes. The rain tends to wash these away, and they’ll need to make their rounds, providing you a great opportunity to set up shop if you time it right.
However, you should be aware that moving after the rain has stopped is a mistake. You’ll be far more likely to spook a nearby deer than if you’d set up just before they started moving.
Keeping Your Gear Dry In The Rain
Moving gear in the rain can be a challenge, and you may need to take precautions to keep things dry. Purchasing a good set of rain-proof hunting clothing can be a real life-saver here. It can also make hunting in the rain far more comfortable when you’re not wet, cold, and miserable.
Pay special attention to your feet! Wet feet are no fun. Make sure you’re wearing warm boots with waterproofing, tucking your pants into them for protection, and we’d also advise bringing an extra pair of socks in a zip-loc in your hunting bag, just in case.
It’s also important to protect your hunting rifle though. Prolonged exposure to water can quickly rust steel, or even swell wood stock. Invest in water-proof scope caps, and rub your weapon of choice down with a nice coat of wax, and it’ll keep things polished and protected. The kind that’s used on automobiles should do the trick. A waterproof gun bag could also be helpful for your trek out until you get set-up though.