Can you hunt deer in the rain, and do the benefits outweigh the inconvenience of getting wet?
The really simple answer is yes you can, and yes they do. But over the years, we’ve learned it is less about whether you can and more about whether you will.
Like anything, hunting in the rain comes down to personal choice. Some hunters prefer to stay indoors when the weather turns bad. Others are happy to hunt in rain, hail or shine!
The latter group may even be a little excited by the rain, realising it gives them a handy advantage over the deer.
When it comes to hunting in inclement weather conditions, humans are far more bothered by the elements than animals who spend their entire lives living outdoors.
However, if you’re willing to put up with the inconvenience of getting wet, there are some definite advantages to hunting deer in the rain.
When it comes to hearing, deer have a definite advantage over humans. Their large, external ears are like satellite dishes, amplifying sounds they we would have trouble hearing.
Thankfully rain has some great noise reduction benefits that can even the playing field between deer and man.
Have you ever noticed how quiet the bush is when it’s raining?
Rain blocks out extraneous sounds, leaving you with just the gentle pitter patter of rain falling on leaves and trees. This natural soundtrack makes it harder for the deer to hear your approach, lulling them into a false sense of security.
Rain also softens the ground, meaning there’s less chance of ‘crunching’ dry leaves and fallen twigs beneath your feet.
These advantages are more apparent with light to medium rain. The heavier the rain, the less advantage you have and the more the elements start playing against you again.
For instance, if the rain is too heavy and your boots get too wet, you could end up with squelching wet boots that herald your arrival to every deer in the bush.
Heavy rain can also make the ground quite muddy, which makes it harder for you to walk quietly and increases your chances of getting stuck in the thick mud.
Deer use their noses a lot and can smell up to half a kilometre away in good conditions.
They use their noses to sense danger (smells that are unfamiliar) and then flee to safety.
They use their noses to seek out good food sources.
They also use their noses to seek out a female deer in estrus (on heat), as estrus does carry a strong scent in their urine that lets all the boys in the area know she is ready to breed.
Rain acts as a great natural scent blocker, washing away any unfamiliar human smells you may have carried in with you.
Rain also makes the air smell fresher. Have you ever noticed that clean, fresh smell of rain? It’s called petrichor, and there’s actually some science behind why it smells so good.
When rain falls onto dry soil, it traps tiny air bubbles on the surface. The bubbles themselves are made up of chemical compounds from the oils of nearby plants, as well as a bacterial compound known as actinobacteria. These chemicals burst into an aerosol when it rains, which spreads on the wind, creating that clean, fresh smell we love so much.
Petrichor only occurs during light to moderate showers. The heavier the downpour, the heavier the drops of rain, which then stops the bubbles forming and prevents the aerosol of freshness spreading.
We have already established that rain removes the advantage deer have over humans with smell and sound. But sight is actually one area that humans have a natural advantage over the deer.
Good human eyesight is 20/20. Deer are nowhere near that good.
Rain reduces the deer’s visibility even more, making it harder for them to see danger.
Of course, the flip side is that it also reduces our visibility too. But we can counteract that by staying still and letting the deer come towards us.
As you can see, there are some great advantages to hunting in the rain that far outweigh the inconvenience of getting wet.
While most of the benefits seem to sit in the light to medium rain belt, there’s nothing stopping you hunting in any weather except your own comfort levels. And even those can be alleviated by wearing good waterproof hunting clothes and a decent pair of boots.
Even better, by not being a fair weather hunter, you have less chance of running into other hunters, and more chance of getting that deer yourself!
If the early bird gets the worm, the dedicated hunter gets the deer!
Here are just a few of the deer we have taken in the rain.
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