Deer Hunting in the Rain – Tips for Making Your Hunt a Success

I was soaking wet and beginning to shiver in the cold, pouring rain, but I knew from past experience that deer hunting in the rain could pay off big time!

I had been on stand for about 2 hours when the hard rain stopped as the tropical storm moved eastward.

Fifteen minutes after the rain stopped, I saw movement about seventy five yards away.

I could make out antlers moving through the brush.

I stood up and slowly grabbed my bow.

The old buck walked by me at 25 yards and a soft mouth bleat stopped him at 27 yards quartering away.

I let the arrow fly and watched it disappear behind his shoulder.

He mule kicked and ran hard down the hill where I watched him crash and quickly expire.

I didn't even have to follow the blood trail.

That 9 point buck field dressed two hundred and fifteen pounds and his age was estimated by a wildlife biologist to be 9 1/2 or 10 1/2!

That was more than 30 years ago and since then, I have been deer hunting in the rain every chance I get!

A major factor in my success on that deer hunt was that I was already in my stand when the rain stopped.

More on that below.

Whitetail Deer Buck Shaking off the Rain

Whitetail Deer Buck Shaking off the Rain

Do Deer Move In The Rain?

Yes deer move in the rain, but how much they move depends on whether it is a light rain or heavy rain and what time of year it is.

Let's take a look a the facts and learn more about how rain impacts deer movement.

Do Deer Move In Light Rain?

I have found that light rain does not seem to affect deer movement at all.

It is almost like the deer completely ignore the light rain and move as if it isn't raining at all.

It is a great time of the deer season to be in the woods when there is a little rain on the way!

Tactics for Deer Hunting in the Rain

I have taken many deer while hunting from a treestand on a rainy day, but those damp, drizzly days in the deer woods are perfect for getting out of your treestand and hunting on foot.

It is easy to slowly slip through the woods, making less noise in damp conditions, when the forest floor is thoroughly soaked.

Also, when hunting in the rain the human scent molecules are quickly washed out of the air and to the ground, helping the hunter to remain undetected. 

Still Hunting Tips

  • Always keep the wind in your face. It is ok if it is a quartering wind, but it must be in your face.
  • Still hunting requires very slow movement. Take one step and stop. Spend several minutes looking at everything with binoculars. When you are sure there is not a deer at the perimeter of your sight, take another step and stop for several minutes and glass.
  • Be sure to keep an eye on your back trail as well. I have shot several nice bucks that came in behind me while still hunting.
  • Try to stop up against a tree or some type of cover. It makes it easier for you to blend in and also gives you something to lean on, which can be beneficial if a deer is slowly moving your way and you can't move for a long period of time. I have had this happen several times and if you are in the open, in an awkward position, it is very difficult to stay still and undetected.
  • Still hunt the field edges and food sources, like food plots, crop fields, apple trees, and acorn flats. Deer will typically hang around these areas longer than normal on rainy days.
  • Only take very high percentage shots. A blood trail is very difficult to follow in the rain.
Deer Hunting in the Rain

Still Hunting In the Rain

The Two Man Still Hunt

This is one of my favorite rainy day hunts and it requires an intimate knowledge of your hunting area and a partner that shares your skills and passion for safety.

When done correctly, it is a deadly tactic for the whitetail deer hunter.

We like to execute the two man still hunt along ridges and benches where we still hunt in the same direction, but 300 - 400 yards apart, using the wet leaves to our advantage.

We go extremely slowly attempting to see the deer before they see us, but if a deer does see us first, there is a good chance that he is going to run into the other hunter.

I have caught many a nice buck sneaking away from the other hunter and right into my sights.

Many times the other hunters never even knew there was a buck there!

If you have a partner that knows your hunting area as well as you do and likes whitetail deer hunting in the rain, this is one of the rainy day strategies that you should have in your arsenal.

Do Deer Move in Heavy Rain?

Most deer do not moving during heavy rain. When it is raining hard, the deer's sense of smell and hearing are compromised and as a result of the suppressed scent conditions, deer activity will be drastically reduced. They will seek shelter and hunker down until the rain ends or becomes lighter.

The exception to this is during the rut.

I have seen deer moving in heavy rain when they are being chased by a rut crazed buck, but for the most part, deer movement is virtually non existent in heavy rain.

Does that mean you shouldn't go hunt deer in heavy rain?

No, it doesn't, and I will explain below.

Do Deer Move After Rain?

Whitetail Deer Buck In Rain

Whitetail Deer Buck In Rain

Yes, deer move after rain!

In my experience, this is the one of the best times to be in the woods hunting whitetail deer.

I have killed more mature bucks immediately after heavy rain has stopped than any other time.

I have also found that the more prolonged period of heavy rain, the better it is to be hunting whitetail deer.

I believe the buck that I killed in the beginning of this article had been bedded down all night long because the tropical rain storm had high winds and a deluge of steady rain for hours on end. As soon as that rain stopped, he was on his feet and looking for ladies!

The problem with taking advantage of deer moving after a heavy rain is that you can't wait until the rain is over to go into the woods because the deer are on their feet and it is likely that you are going to spook them.

Hunting deer that move after the rain has stopped requires you to be in your stand in the heavy rain so that you are there when it stops.

The good news is that the heavy rain will wash away the scent trail that you left on your way to the stand, helping you to remain undetected.

Whitetail deer hunting in the rain sounds pretty uncomfortable, and it can be, but it can also pay big dividends, even on big bucks that are considered nocturnal!

Here is a link to a study of deer movement in the rain from Penn State University.

Deer Hunting in the Rain With Bow.

In 2014, I had yet another big mature buck fall to my arrow after a prolonged period of tropical rain.

It had been a driving rain and wind since about midnight, and it was still pouring as I prepared to make my way to my tree stand in the predawn darkness.

I was in full Gore Tex rain gear, but I knew I would still be miserably uncomfortable as a steady stream of water ran off the bill of my cap.

I sat perfectly still, questioning my sanity for about an hour and a half before the rain tapered of to a light drizzle.

I was beginning to shiver and I stood up to try to get some blood flowing.

When I did, I caught some movement a couple hundred yards away near some apple trees and I tried to get a better look through my binoculars, but they were too fogged up.

Even the best hunting binoculars will fog up when they are soaking wet for hours.

I waited, straining my eyes to make out the source of the movement.

It wasn't long before I could see a deer. And then another and another.

Three does were headed my way. It looked like they were going to use a bench below me and I watched them slip down on to the bench.

A few minutes later they popped up over the hill 30 yards away on the ridge where I was waiting in my tree.

My heart started racing when I heard the telltale urrp, urrp, urrp of a tending buck!

The does scattered as the old 13 pointer came up over the hill with his neck stretched out low to the ground.

I drew as he passed behind a tree and when he came into view, he stopped and lip curled thirty yards away.

The arrow hit hard with a smack and he raced back over the hill the way he came, leaving a blood trail that I could see from my stand!

I heard him crash less than 50 yards away.

Another rainy day hunt success story!


Whitetail Deer Buck In Pouring Rain

Whitetail deer buck in the rain

Tips For Deer Hunting in the Rain with a Bow

  • Buy the best Gore Tex rain gear that you can afford.
  • Invest in a tree stand umbrella for your treestand.
  • Consider hunting from a ground blind where you can stay warm and dry.
  • A blood trail will disappear quickly in the rain. So only take high percentage shots that will have your deer down quickly. A bad shot is a nightmare on a rainy day.
  • Be sure to dry your bow well after hunting in the rain. Rust, corrosion and other problems do not take long to develop.
  • Shooting in bulky clothes while wet can test your ability. Practice and be confident in your shot making ability.

Calling Deer in the Rain.

Truth be told, I love calling deer. It's one of my favorite whitetail deer hunting tactics and calling deer in the rain works extremely well as long as it is a light rain.

The same rules apply to calling deer in the rain as do to calling them any other time.

Grunt calls are deadly and often get a response from curious bucks when used at the right time of year.

When calling deer in the rain, you have to be cognizant of the fact that sound simply doesn't travel as well in wet, heavy conditions as it does on those cold bluebird days.

However, I have found that deer will respond to calls in light rain just as well as other times as long as they can hear the call.

Calling deer in the rain requires you to be much more vigilant as you cannot hear the deer coming like you can in dry conditions.

Often, after a rattling sequence, the first indication that a deer is responding is the telltale sound of hoof prints in the leaves.

You lose that edge that our sense of hearing provides when conditions are wet.

In 2015, I was hunting a lease in southwest Ohio and it had been a heavy downpour all morning.

The hard rain stopped around 11am and after sitting for another half an hour, I was becoming antsy and decided to rattle.

I made a rattling sequence and hung up the horns to wait.

15 minutes later, I was standing up in my treestand watching a cow feeding in a field about 60 yards away, when the cow picked up its head and looked up into the woods behind me with its ears on alert.

I turned around instinctively to look and found myself face to face with one of the biggest bucks I have ever seen on the hoof!

He had snuck in behind me in the wet conditions and was standing there at 25 yards.

When I turned around to look, he caught the movement and was gone in the blink of an eye. Blowing and snorting the whole way!

The lesson is, if you are calling deer in the rain, you need to be on high alert, because you have lost the ability to hear them coming.

Here is a trail cam pic of the monster buck that busted me while calling deer in the rain.

Deer hunting in the rain

It's going to take a while to get over that one!

Gear for Deer Hunting In Bad Weather

A major factor in being successful while hunting whitetail deer in the rain is having the proper gear.

You aren't going to last very long if you are wet, cold, miserable and the warm fire is calling you back at deer camp.

First, you need a good pair of waterproof boots.

I am primarily a bowhunter and prefer rubber boots for keeping scent to a minimum.

A deer's sense of smell is its number one defense and the rubber boots help to mask my scent.

The best rubber boots for bowhunting are Muck Boots.

These boots are 100% waterproof and last for years!

Muck Boots

Next you are going to need a set of Gore Tex rain gear.

Trust me, I have tried other rain gear that claims to be as good as Gore Tex.

It isn't...

Here is my favorite deer hunting rain gear.

Sitka Stormfront Jacket

Sitka Gear Stormfront Gore-Tex Rain Jacket

If you are hunt deer in the rain from a tree stand, you should consider a treestand umbrella.

Treestand Umbrella

Another way to stay dry when you deer hunt in the rain is to hunt from a ground blind.

Here is my favorite.

Primos Double Bull Ground Blind

Primos Double Bull Deluxe Ground Blind

You need to do whatever you can to make yourself as comfortable as possible while you hunt deer in the rain.

The less time you spend in deer camp and the more time that you can stay in the woods, the better your chances for success!

Do Deer Move In The Rain Video

Check out this video where where my good friend Roger Raglin talks about whitetail deer hunting in the rain.

Roger answers the question; Do deer move in the rain?

Conclusion

When most hunters plan a vacation to hunt, they are hoping for good weather.

When I am planning a vacation to hunt, I am hoping for tropical storms and massive fronts that bring temperature drops and driving rain, because I know that I can use these conditions to put big, mature bucks on the ground.

The hunting pressure is greatly reduced on on rainy days as many hunters will choose to stay inside where they are warm and comfortable and wait for a sunny day to hunt.

If you have the opportunity to go deer hunting in the rain, use these tips and tactics to sharpen your skills and up your odds of harvesting the trophy of a lifetime!

About the author

John VanDerLaan

Hi folks! I'm John VanDerLaan and I have a deep passion for the outdoors, and deer hunting in particular. I am what you call a year round deer hunter. I am in the whitetail woods year round preparing for the next years season and I love to share the knowledge that I've gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail! In full disclosure, it is safe to assume that I am an affiliate for products that I recommend. I will make a commission if you buy through my link. You will not pay more when buying through my link. In fact, oftentimes I have negotiated a lower price (or bonuses) for my readers than you will find anywhere else online. Also, when you buy through my link, it allows me to continue to provide you with tons of FREE valuable information through this website!

2comments
Richard Pavlovec - December 17, 2017

I live in Alabama & have to deal with lots of “wet” conditions . I do have the tree umbrella ( works great as a “turkey-blind” also) and when I can I need to get the Rain Jacket (now that I know what you recommend:) BUT , ……You do the public a big favor with articles like this with so much good info——(hard earned & wet days in the woods)
….This is the most informative article I’ve ever read on just the topic of hunting in the rain. Down here ….everyone heads for the coffee shop !
Thanks a lot for the great article and I hope you have a great season.
Merry Christmas and GOD BLESS you and yours. BE SAFE !
Richard

Reply
    John VanDerLaan - December 18, 2017

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for weighing in on deer hunting in the rain!

    I may not be like most people, but i love a good deer hunt in the rain. It has been so productive and there is something about being in the woods and being tested by the elements. As long as you are prepared, it can be a very rewarding experience.

    Thanks again Richard and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    John

    Reply
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