The Daily, The Field, The Woods

Rainy Day Whitetails

There are times when a bow hunter can hear a whitetail coming for 100 yards. If the animal is upwind, and the leaves are as dry as corn flakes, the sound carries for a long distance.

Whitetails depend on their hearing for survival, and dry leaves advertise their presence. The opposite is true when it rains.

The leaves soak up the rainy weather, and a whitetail can ghost through the woods with barely a sound. This is an important reason for hunters to spend time in the woods when the rain is falling.

Fog, a light mist or a soft drizzle can cause bucks to move

I’ve written before that deer love to travel when a soft misty rain is falling. There is a soft pitter-patting sound under such conditions, but it doesn’t seem to bother the deer. They seem to be able to separate that soft noise from a dangerous noise without a problem.

These soft rains seem to get deer moving earlier in the evening, and it appears that deer move with more confidence during a soft rain. They appear more comfortable moving between bedding and feeding areas, and they seem to eat and move without hesitation.

I’ve had people ask if I feel a soft rain will carry human scent downward. I believe, to a small degree, that it does. I also think that low-lying ground fog will hold human scent near the ground.

Soft rains and fog seem to go hand in hand during the autumn months, and I’ve seen some of my largest bucks under such conditions. The fog seems to offer big bucks a sense of security, and they seem to be on the move. This is most certainly true during the pre-rut, rut and post-rut, when buck and doe activity is high.

One thing about fog is it distorts the sense of sound. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to a buck grunting as he tends an estrus doe, and in the fog, my vision and hearing is limited. I’ve seen bucks appear and disappear in the rainy fog without ever seeing the doe, and there have been many times when the doe is visible but the tending buck cannot be seen.

Fog is the hardest to hunt in because it distorts hearing and vision

It’s at times like this that a hunter must be alert. I remember one night several years ago just before the Nov. 15 firearm season opener, when I saw a half-dozen bucks appear and vanish into the fog. All were moving, all were grunting, and the antler and body size of each one indicated they were individual animals.

Judging distance in the fog can be difficult. I’ve talked with a number of people who know the far edge of their bait pile is 20 yards away, and if a doe or buck appears in heavy fog, they feel the animal is much farther away that it appears. They aim high to compensate for this imagined difference and shoot over the animal.

The best advice is to put out markers  if you are not using bait. A measured distance must be believed, even if the fog makes the animal appear much farther away than what it is.

I like rain on the roof, rain after my crops are planted, and rain (on occasion) when I’m hunting. I dislike a steady diet of it, and I compare that to eating steak every night. One soon grows tired of it.

I find it enjoyable to  hunt under these conditions

Hunting in the rain isn’t too bad. It offers something a little different to a bow hunter, and that is fine by me. I enjoy a variety, a change of pace, in my hunting, and I can hunt in anything except a downpour or when the lightning is dancing in the sky.

Most of all, I like to hunt in those soft misty evening when the darkness comes early because of heavy rain clouds overhead, and when the whitetails seem to slip up on a guy. That is when a hunt really means something to me.


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