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There’s nothing worse than getting up early in the morning for a hunt, checking the weather, and seeing rain in the forecast. What now? Do deer even come out when it’s raining? Most hunters will simply go back to bed and wait another day. But if you’re like me, you may wonder if there’s still a chance that the deer will come out in the rain and can still be hunted.
Rain or shine, deer have some basic needs that need to be met. So to answer the question at hand:
Yes, deer do come out in the rain.
There are plenty of factors that go into what a deer will decide to do, especially during bad weather. And to really get an answer as to what deer do when it’s raining cats and dogs, it’s important to understand their usual habits and movements in the first place. Let’s dive into the world of your average deer and figure out if it’s worth hunting in the rain!
Before we jump into what deer will do when it’s raining, let’s get a baseline on what they do on your average day of great weather. No matter where you are, your local deer are most likely going to be “crepuscular” animals. This means they are most active in the early morning hours and the last few hours before dark.
This is why it’s so important to be up and headed out the door early in the morning when deer hunting, as hard as that sometimes is. While they are still plenty active during the middle of the night and middle of the day, their level of activity during these times will really come down to things like the weather, temperature, available food, and predator activity.
As soon as a deer is up and moving in the morning, they are on the lookout for food and water. This is when you should be in the deer stand, as you’ll most likely see the most amount of movement. The only exception to this is the rut, where mature bucks might forget about their basic needs and start immediately searching for a hot doe. Of course, this can bring even more deer activity, and why so many of us love hunting during the breeding season!
After a deer has had its fill of food or water, it will start to search for a bedding area where it can escape the sun as the day heats up. Even in colder climates, deer will typically hold tight in thick bedding areas and cover to regain their strength after a long morning of running around. Once the sun starts to set and the temperatures begin to drop, they will get up and start the cycle all over again.
Once a deer has a pattern and has found specific areas it likes, a hunter can hone in on these habits to increase their chances of filling a tag. According to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, understanding deer habits and behaviors is the number one action that will lead you to a successful hunt in any given season.
One of my favorite times of year to kill a big buck is actually before the rut, as I can find his pattern and habits before he goes off to chase does. A patternable deer is a vulnerable deer!
Of course, things like the rut will throw deer out of their usual patterns and habits. Other things, like a snowstorm or heavy rain, can do the same thing.
There’s no clear-cut answer as to what deer will do when it rains. In my experience, as long as it is a light rain the deer will actually come out and be more active than they otherwise would be. Heavy rains, however, can have the opposite effect and will make deer bed down and hang tight in cover until it passes.
Deer will weather hundreds if not thousands of storms in their lifetimes, so they are no strangers to the rain. As long as they can still use their senses to see, hear, and smell, they will not let the rain stop them from their regular habits. In fact, the rain might even cool off the area, dropping temperatures and prompting them to be more active than usual.
Many wildlife biologists tend to agree that light to moderate rain will have no effect on deer movements. Moriah Boggess, a biologist with the Indiana DNR, says “Since there is little they can do about rain, it's not likely a deer is terribly affected by it.”
More than once I’ve been on a hunt and been caught out in the rain. Yet, despite what I considered “bad” weather, I always seemed to see the same amount of deer that I had been seeing the entire hunt. So if you aren’t afraid of packing some rain gear and getting a little wet, you might be surprised to see some of the same deer behavior in the rain that you’re used to seeing on a bright sunny day.
Speaking of hunting in the rain, there are a few precautions you’ll want to take if you’re going to brave the elements and head into the deer woods. First, buy the best rain gear that you can afford. I’ve tried the cheap stuff from the sporting goods stores and every time I’d still get drenched. Now that I’ve invested some solid money into high-quality rain gear, I’m much more comfortable waiting out a short shower while in my treestand.
The rain can also drastically reduce the temperature, so make sure to back a few extra layers in order to stay warm. It’s a lot harder to stay focused and motivated if you are shivering and wishing you were back at home. By coming prepared with a few extra items in the pack, waiting out the rain for a big buck to walk by is much more manageable.
So will a deer come out in the rain? As long as it’s not a hurricane outside, the answer is usually yes. So the next time you wake up to rain in the forecast, throw your rain gear in your pack and find the resolve to get out there anyways. You never know what kind of luck you might find while other hunters stay at home in bed!
Also, we have a great blog about Deer Sounds And What They Mean?