Do Deer Move In The Rain? What’s The Real Truth?
I started hunting deer when I was around 14 years old. The three things I was taught that I remember are: do plenty of scouting before the season starts, deer prefer edges between cover and feed, and that deer move in the rain. It’s thirty years later, and I still believe in all three of these lessons. But are they really true?
I know that time spent scouting is never wasted, and I’ve seen thousands of deer feeding on the edges of fields close to brush and trees.
But do deer really move in the rain? Every year when a storm rolls in, I jump in the truck to go hunt for a monster buck, but I started to wonder if I was wasting my time. I decided to do some research on deer behavior and rain to settle the issue once and for all.
I discovered that deer behave differently before a storm, during a storm, and after a storm. I also found the best strategies to use when hunting deer in the rain.
Let’s get started:
Before a Storm
Like many other wild animals, deer can sense when a storm is coming in. This directly affects their activities and behavior. As soon as they sense a storm, they begin actively feeding.
As soon as they sense a storm, they begin actively feeding. Their instincts tell them that they must fill their bellies before the storm arrives so they can hunker down and wait the weather out. In the six-hour period before any storm, deer will be up and about feeding, no matter what time of day it is.
As hunters, we can use this information to increase our chances of success. Simply use the weather app on your phone to give you a good idea of when the rain will start, and make sure you’re out hunting several hours before the weather reaches you.
If you’ve done your scouting, you should know right where to go to sit and wait. Be patient and quiet, because the deer will definitely show up to feed before the storm hits!
During a Storm
There are two different scenarios when it comes to storms. The first is a light or steady rain with little to no wind. The second is a downpour coupled with high winds. In steady rain with minimal wind, you need to be out hunting!
Moisture on leaves and branches allow deer to move noiselessly through the woods, which gives them an added sense of security. They also have a better sense of smell in the rain, which boosts their confidence as well. Since most people stay home during storms, hunter pressure is greatly reduced during the rain, and deer know this. As a result, deer feel very safe moving around in the middle of the day during a rainstorm. This is your window of opportunity!
Don’t limit yourself to morning and evening hunts when it’s raining. Pack a lunch and stay out all day, because the deer will be out in force, especially the older bucks.
When the rain comes down in buckets and the wind is blowing hard, the deer react much like we humans do. They tend to stay home and sleep in bed. The best chance you have of jumping a buck is if you step on one.
Most people would agree not to waste your time. Just rest up and get ready for the post-storm action! There are situations where a hunter can use severe weather to his or her advantage. If you scouted where the deer beds are, it might be a good idea to go check them out during an intense storm.
After a Storm
This is prime time for all deer hunters! After the storm has blown over, the deer are hungry and thirsty. They will immediately head for the nearest food and water sources. On the way, they may choose to run to loosen up stiff muscles. Young bucks love to test each other and play.
Their biological needs overshadow their sense of caution, which makes them much easier to sneak up on and get close to. This is the reason the old timers have always viewed storms with a sense of optimism, because the deer move in the rain, but they really move after it’s over!
Keep an eye on the current weather conditions in your area, and when the rain starts tapering off, it’s time for you to get out there, no matter what time of day it is. Make sure you’re in position before the deer start coming out, and wait for them to come to you. If it’s been storming for several days in a row, you’re likely to see a ton of action.
Now that we know for sure that hunting in the rain can be a great idea, let’s talk about getting prepared to do it. The best thing you can do for yourself is to purchase high-quality clothes to keep you warm and dry.
First, let’s talk about footwear. Buy yourself some waterproof hunting boots.
I recommend 8” boots with laces for ankle support. Depending upon the temperature, you may need insulated boots to keep your feet warm. Most hunters I know keep a pair of insulated hunting boots and a pair without. Anytime you’re out in the woods, good footwear is your lifeline for survival, so don’t go cheap in this department.
Next, buy yourself some waterproof hunting pants and a jacket. I’m not talking about that loud plastic rain gear you get at the hardware store. Most sporting goods stores have a good selection of pants and jackets in stock at reasonable prices. Insulation isn’t necessary here, because you can layer your jeans or thermal underwear underneath your pants to keep warm, and shirts to keep your upper body nice and comfortable.
A good hunting jacket also has plenty of pockets to store snacks, ammo, electronics, binoculars, and a dry rag to clean your scope. Remember, the more comfortable you are in the rain, the easier it is to stay out in it.
The final piece of clothing you’ll need is a good hat. I recommend a boonie-style hat, because the wide brim keeps water from running down your collar and soaking your clothes. Treating your hat with a spray-on waterproofer ahead of time will make sure that it doesn’t absorb any water, so you can use it all day long.
If additional warmth is required, you can add a knit cap underneath to keep your skull nice and toasty!
I’ll leave gloves completely up to you. If you feel comfortable wearing them, do so. If you hate wearing gloves, don’t. Just make sure you can operate your bow or rifle with them on, because you rarely get time to take them off. There are several gloves on the market made from thin material so you can still have maximum dexterity with them on. Do whatever makes you most comfortable.
Anytime your optics are exposed to moisture, you can have problems with blurring and fogging. Make sure your binoculars, scope, and glasses if you wear them are ready for your hunt in the rain. Most optics manufacturers say that their lenses are treated with products to prevent blurring and fogging, but don’t just take their word for it. It only takes a few minutes to apply Nikon Anti-fog or a similar product to your exterior lens surfaces.
I also apply product to my see-through scope caps just in case I don’t have time to take them off, and I need to shoot! An additional tip to prevent fogging is to keep your rifle outside in your truck so it stays at the outside air temperature. Don’t let problems with your optics ruin your rain hunt!
When hunting in the rain, keep in mind that tracking in wet conditions is much more difficult. Blood trails are quickly washed away, so finding a wounded animal is much less likely. Just because you can see a buck doesn’t mean you should take the shot. Practice responsible hunting and take high percentage shots for good clean kills. Nobody wants the animal’s life and meat to go to waste!
Do deer move in the rain? Yes, they move in the rain, before the rain, and after the rain. That means that we need to get out in the rain to increase our chances of bagging a buck! To enjoy hunting in the rain, gear up with waterproof boots and clothes so you stay warm and dry. Also treat your optics to eliminate fogging, and pack a lunch to stay out all day. The best time to hunt is immediately after a storm, so get to your favorite spot before the rain lets up. If a storm’s too intense, just stay home and rest like the deer are. Now get out there and bag a monster, and don’t forget to tell your kids — Deer move in the rain.