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Will Deer Travel In The Rain?

a deer travelling in the rain

Many hunters plan for their impending hunt by studying the upcoming weather forecast. This, of course, is for good reason, as deer movement is highly affected by a number of weather-related factors.

However, we do not always understand the exact correlation between certain forms of weather and the effects these particular conditions will have on the deer of a given area.

Rainfall, or a lack thereof, is often cited as a defining factor when attempting to predict deer movement. While some say that rain entices deer to move, others stipulate that deer often bed down during periods of precipitation.

These conflicting reports lead to a wealth of confusion, especially with the newer hunters among our ranks.

So where, exactly, does the truth lie? Read on to find out if deer move in the rain…

TL;DR
Light rain: Deer moves normally and may even be more active. Good hunting opportunity.
Heavy Rain: Some argue its validity, while others dismiss it. When heavy rain falls, deer often hunker down and restrict their activity, resulting in unfavorable hunting conditions. Differing viewpoints persist.
Wind: Deer avoid traveling in strong winds that impair their senses. Seek security cover.
After rain: Deer resume their movement quickly when the rain stops. Excellent time to hunt.

A Force Of Habit

Deer are creatures of habit and move about in response to several environmental factors. A rain shower or two does little to deter these movements, as deer are bound to a continual need for nourishment. Despite the rain, deer travel as needed to access food.

For this reason, one could surmise that “yes, deer do travel in the rain”. However, this would only tell part of the story.

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Hunters are perhaps better off asking themselves if there is a certain amount of rain that stifles deer movement and puts a damper on a hunt.

After all, not all precipitation is created equally, as there is quite a difference between a light shower and a heavy, prolonged downpour.

A Rainout?

In most cases, there is, in fact, a point at which deer tend to bed down rather than travel in the face of heavy precipitation. Deer move quite well in all but the heaviest downpours.

When rainfall becomes heavy enough to limit a deer’s senses, its movement generally tapers off quite rapidly.

Deer rely upon their senses to keep them safe from danger. These senses include magnified sight, acute hearing, and unbelievably strong smell.

However, intense rainfall shortens sight distance, limits the ability to hear clearly, and washes away foreign odors. This places the whitetail deer at a noticeable disadvantage.

What About Wind?

Deer are typically unbothered by a light rain shower, though this entire scenario changes drastically when a steady wind is put in play. Just as a heavy downpour of rain severely hampers a deer’s senses, winds greater than 15-20 MPH do the same.

Therefore, even a modest rain, accompanied by steady winds, is often enough to slow deer movement to a trickle.

This is a factor worth considering when planning for an upcoming hunt. If you still wish to go afield, you should focus on hunting within close proximity to heavier security cover. This often includes dense pine/cedar thickets.

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Additionally, deer can often be found traveling windbreaks, such as rock outcroppings and bluffs, during periods of adverse weather as well. 

One must also carefully consider the direction of any wind accompanying a rain shower. Deer will generally spook at even the slightest whiff of human odor, even in the accompaniment of moderate rain.

Hunting In The Rain

Hunting during periods of light rain often proves fruitful, as deer move about much like they regularly would. Deer movement is often slightly heavier in light rain than it otherwise would be during fair weather.

This, in turn, provides an excellent opportunity for those who choose to remain on the stand.

However, the best way to use rainfall to your advantage when planning a hunt is to lie in wait for heavy rain showers to diminish.

While deer will typically bed up during heavy downpours, they tend to move feverishly in the 30 minutes following a rain event’s conclusion.

Many hunters use this fact to their advantage by hunkering down on-stand while wearing a rain jacket in anticipation of clearing weather.

read.. will deer move with frost on the ground

This tactic tends to be extremely deadly when hunting relatively close to a mature buck’s bedding area.

The cooling effect of an evening rain shower is often enough to force an otherwise reclusive buck to his feet 30 minutes or so before such movement would otherwise occur.

FAQ

What is the effect of rain on deer movement? 

Rain can affect deer movement differently depending on its intensity, duration, and wind speed. Light rain can stimulate deer activity, while heavy rain can reduce it. Wind can also deter deer from traveling as it impairs their senses.

Is hunting in the rain a good idea?

Hunting in the rain can be a good idea if you know how to use the weather to your advantage. Light rain can make deer more active and less wary, while heavy rain can force them to bed down near food sources. Hunting after the rain can also be productive as deer resume their normal patterns.

Can rain be too heavy for deer to travel?

Yes, rain can be too heavy for deer to travel if it limits their ability to see, hear, and smell. Deer rely on their senses to detect predators and avoid danger. But keep in mind, rainy weather affects the hunter more than the hunted.

How does wind affect deer movement

Wind can reduce their sensory perception and make them more vulnerable to predators. Deer tend to avoid traveling in strong winds and seek security cover.

What are the best times to hunt deer in the rain?

The best times to hunt deer in the rain are during light or moderate precipitation periods, especially when it coincides with other factors influencing deer activity, such as temperature, moon phase, rut, and food availability. Another good time to hunt is right after the rain stops.

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