First, we’ll start with a question: Should I go bow hunting in the rain?
Answer: ABSOLUTELY. Rough weather can make bow hunting a challenge, but it can bring about some truly incredible opportunities.
With all that opportunity, however, comes a lot of danger, and there are some things you’ll need to keep in mind.
We’ve gone over this in great detail elsewhere (and you can click here for our full guide on how to hunt in the rain), but here are a few brief pointers to consider if you’re heading out into stormy weather.
First Things First: Read Up on the Weather Before You Go
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many people get so excited to head out on a hunt, that they forget to take a look at what the weather be like! Read the weather reports, and pack your gear (and your expectations) accordingly.
Light Rain Might Provide Unique Hunting Opportunities
We don’t have any scientific research on this—only anecdotal experience—but light rain doesn’t really seem to inhibit deer too much. Heavy rain will most definitely cause a deer to hunker down, but during light showers, they’ll get up, move around, and look for food.
That light rain *will* stop other hunters, however, and that can be a fantastic opportunity for you to be the only hunter in the woods. If you’ve got the proper gear and you don’t mind a little discomfort, rain-hunting can be a fantastic opportunity.
Heavy Rain Can Also Provide Unique Hunting Opportunities
Remember a moment ago, when we said that deer will hunker down during a real downpour? Well, after that downpour, they’ll need to get up again and find water, food, etc. after have been so still for so long. The environment will be very wet and mushy and muddy (and that’s where mud boots / rubber boots will be a great thing to have), but this sort of weather will scare away a lot of hunters, as well. If you’re not afraid to get dirty and muddy, there are a lot of opportunities to be had.
It Can Be Wise to Invest in Some Waterproof Hunting Boots
We don’t even have to say “Trust us on this one,” because just about everyone who’s spent any time out-of-doors has experienced wet feet, and knows the misery they’ll bring.
And, if you’re outside long enough, cold/wet feet can go from “uncomfortable” to “dangerous,” and we’ll discuss that in a minute.
So keep your feet warm and toasty. We’ve got a list of our favorite rubber hunting boots if you want to read about a few suggestions.
It Can Be Wise to Invest in a Hunting Umbrella
And have it with you at all times—even if the weather report says it’s be 72 and sunny. Sitting in a tree stand while the skies rain on you for hours is a uniquely miserable experience, and it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing the best rubber hunting boots known to mankind—you’ll most likely be miserable. A simple umbrella can provide you a lot of comfort. And even better than an umbrella in a tree stand would be to…
Hunt from a Ground Blind If You Can
We realize not everyone has the opportunity to set up ground blinds, but if you’ve got private land or use a land lease, having a ground blind that you set up for such an occasion can be a boon. You may not routinely hunt from a blind, but if you’re experiencing week after week of rainfall—which happens every now and then—a blind can be a great thing to have.
If you’re going to ditch the ground blind and hunt from a tree stand…
PLEASE Be Careful Getting Up Into Your Tree Stand (and All the Time You’re up There)
Honestly, in most cases, we’d urge you NOT to climb up in a tree stand in rainy, wet conditions. The changes of slipping and falling is too high.
Be Certain of Your Shots!
This is one of those “bow hunting in the rain” tips that we really hope you take to heart: have faith your hunting bow, but be aware that the weather can affect your ability to connect with your game.
We’ve yet to meet a hunter who says that rain helps his/her accuracy, so only take shots you’re very, very confident about—and that’s doubly true if you’re a bowhunter. If your comfort zone is 30 yards, maybe whittle that comfort zone down to 25 or 20 yards. Not only will the elements make it more difficult to put down your game, but blood trails disappear a *lot* more quickly in the rain, so you’ll need to move quickly after a shot that connects.
Waterproof as Much of Yourself as Possible
Waterproof hats, gloves, and coats can be worthwhile, and if you’ll be hunting areas where you can expect frequent rain, a full rain suit can be a great addition to your hunting closet.
Whatever you get, make sure it’s breathable—garments that aren’t breathable tend to make you sweat, and that’s not good either, because while no rain may get into your clothing, you may end up soaked in sweat from the inside out.
A Thermos of Hot Soup Can Be Heavenly
If you’re out in the woods all day, shivering, teeth chattering, miserable as can be, a thermos full of hot savory soup—man, that can be a wonderful thing. Someone told us recently that thermoses are “an old guy” thing, and we’re saddened that this person will never know the joy of hot soup on a cold and rainy day.
We’ll finish up with a really important one…
REMEMBER THAT HYPOTHERMIA DOESN’T ONLY HAPPEN IN THE FREEZING COLD
Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can make it, and we tend to think this can only happen outside, in the snow, far from everyone else, but that is NOT true. Hypothermia can absolutely happen in the rain (and it can even happen indoors, if you’re not paying attention). Dress appropriately, stay dry, don’t be out for too long—and look for the first signs of hypothermia, which can include nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, and confusion. If you’re with a hunting buddy, tell him/her you need to go back, and if you’re alone, use the communication device you brought along to contact someone.
And this sounds simple, but it’s worth stating: pay attention to your body and how you feel. We hunters can get so focused on game, we ignore our actual physical state. Be mindful, and be aware!