Deer Hunting During Rain
It’s that time of year. When deer season is in full swing and people begin watching the weather forecast. One question I am asked and that I see on social media is do deer move in the rain? For many seasons I pretty much hunted every day of the deer season. I would quit my job as a contract aircraft mechanic or my seasonal job in Alaska ended and I spent the fall and winter season hunting with my bow. Rain or shine. I did take windy days off even though there is deer movement in the wind. That is a topic for another article.
When it comes to rain after many seasons in a treestand I can confidently say that deer do move in the rain. Now, there are times when you will see more deer movement in the rain for sure. I want to start with different times of the year when rain does affect deer movement.
Early Season Deer Movement In The Rain
During the early season deer will most definitely move in the rain. The temps are high and movement from bed to feed must occur for deer to survive. With today’s landscape this, more times than not, includes agricultural fields for forage. The oaks aren’t dropping yet and unless you hunt the big woods deer are probably utilizing ag crops for food.
With agricultural fields being open and without cover deer must move off the field to bed. The tricky part is how far off the field do they move. The distance can be determined by many things. The most obvious being pressure and cover. Since this is an article about deer movement in the rain I will save the bed to feed movement to another article. Just know that this travel by the deer is what you are looking for during the early season and deer will move throughout the day when the cooler rain is falling.
When it is raining I try to get to my treestand a few hours earlier. I usually won’t hunt field edges in the morning so I always wait until up in the morning. I would love to sit all day to hunt these field edge deer when it’s raining. However, I don’t want to spook any of the deer that are lingering around it at daylight. The same reason that deer might move earlier to feed in the evening is the reason they will move from feed to bed later in the morning. So while I might go in on a nice day a couple hours after daylight if I want to do a long sit. When it is raining I try not to go in until noon or so to keep from spooking deer that are taking advantage of the cooler temps.
Deer Hunting In The Rain During October
I want to mention October as a separate season from early, rut and late season. October is an anomaly that deer hunters have had questions about, at least during modern hunting circles. The anomaly is debatable and I even wrote about the so called October lull here. Whether the lull is real is up for debate. When the question do deer move in the rain is visited the lull is only part of the equation. That is if you believe there is an October lull.
My take on hunting deer in the rain during October is definitely. The landscape is changing during October. The leaves are turning and the fall colors are alive. Also the rain begins to fall a bit more along with the acorns. Now the acorns dropping can and will affect deer movement whether it is raining or not. It seems that the ag fields being harvested along with acorns dropping affects deer movement the most during October.
Also, as I write about in my October lull article linked to above, the molting process could be another reason. I mention the molting. This is when deer begin to shed their summer coat. Their winter coat grows out in preparation for cold weather. October is still pretty warm and often downright hot here in Kentucky and Tennessee. Where I’ve done most of my hunting.
Deer And Their Winter Coat
Deer, with their new winter coat, will not move until the sun goes down. At least this is an explanation I was given many years ago by a long time bowhunter. He shared this information at my campfire while tent camping for 3 months during the season. It made sense to me and I tended to see it in the woods. Again all of this is debatable. The best thing for each hunter to do is form their own opinion. Apply that knowledge to your woodsman-ship skills and apply it to hunting deer.
As for deer moving in the rain during October this winter coat and molting period, I feel, will cause deer to move more in October. Of course if you get a dip in temperatures then the deer will move more. They might not move all day in hot weather. That is until the cruising phase hits. The cruising phase for me, seems to begin at the end of October and into the early part of November. This is why November gets its own chapter too.
November Rain And Deer Hunting
November, like October, gets its own chapter. That is because November is the time when there is more movement in the deer woods. I do feel that deer movement is affected by rain during the rut if the temperatures are high. So many hunters I see asking if the rut never took place. They wonder why they aren’t seeing any deer movement. Usually this is because the temperatures are warm. Deer will not run around chasing does and fighting other bucks when the temps are high. Their body weight has increased from gorging in preparation for the rut and takes more energy to get around. When the temps are hot deer will only move at night. High temps and hunter pressure will make this fact even more obvious.
The rut does happen. No matter what, the does will be bred. If you aren’t seeing rutting activities then either there are too many bucks, temps are high and/or hunting pressure has the deer laying low. Some hunters feel that cold temps trigger the rut. I’m not here to argue but I gave up on that deal many many seasons ago. The deer will breed. Period. It has been scientifically proven that deer, aside from a few pockets of the USA, breed roughly the same time every season.
Hunt The Rut
The rut is activated by photoperiod. Photoperiod is the amount of light that hits the eye of the deer triggers the rut. It begins all the changes needed for the rut to happen. The shorter days start the rut but that could be a whole other article. Again do your own research. Study these things while hunting. You should come up with your own plan on how to get into range to harvest the deer you want.
As for rain and deer movement during rain in November again it is determined by air temperatures. If it is cool during November you should sit all day. If it’s warm and raining then you should sit all day because the cooler rain and overcast will get a big buck up. It could be all day movement or just a little longer after daybreak and a little earlier in the afternoon. When I was serious about shooting mature whitetails during the rut I sat all day no matter the weather. I feel that is a good idea. However, if you are left with certain days to hunt, a rainy November day is a great day to sit all day. Especially if the temps are in the 50’s or 60’s.
My take on whether or not deer move in rain or whether deer move in wind is that they definitely do. I’ve noticed over the years that deer move in the rain and wind and actually prefer it to sunny high skies. The only time I ever left my treestand during the rut is when it was sunny blue skies. I can almost feel the deer going to bed.
When it is raining I sit all day unless it is windy. Wind and rain puts deer on edge and they prefer to stay bedded during this time. The exception, and maybe just a small exception, is during the rut. I say small exception because even during the rut big bucks will stay bedded. Especially if the temps are too high. But, they love the rain. I still would sit all day if you can from about November 2nd to November 12th or so. This is just my opinion.