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Foul Weather Hunting


I realized a few decades ago that I was not at all like many of my fellow participants in the outdoors. I knew early on, in my escapades through the forest and fields that I liked and enjoyed things differently. Hunting for me is as much an adventure as an escape. There are few days that I won’t go afield. Usually this is due to some other commitment such as staying employed or remaining married.

Like many hunters I enjoy cool crisp “blue-bird” days. When the air is calm, and the air has a bite when you inhale. I like sitting in the stillness where the sound of your own heartbeat drowns out the squirrel busily storing his cache for the coming winter. I enjoy watching the frost gleam as the first rays of the sun begin to cast its presence.

But I also enjoy hunting when the weather is not so pleasant. Soft rain in the woods draws me like bees to fresh roses. The colors all change in the forest when clouds are low and grey. Washing out the sun as it tries in vain to penetrate the water blanket covering the forest. Rain in the forest will often find me alone, more sane people find respite in their warm homes, or hunt cabins waiting for a break in the weather to get out there. Hunting in the rain takes different skill and a lot of tolerance. Regardless of the amount of clothing, or type you will always get wet. If you’ve never noticed the pin hole in your rain pants, sit against a swollen oak as the drizzle accumulates. Water has a way of finding every nook and cranny of your rain wear. There is no rain jacket made that fully protects your neck. Here too, rain will flow freely down the middle of your back as if a funnel were inserted in your collar. There really is no such thing as “waterproof”. There may be water resistant, or water tolerable, but not waterproof. The same can be said for boots. Whether it is from holes in the boot, or sweat accumulating from within – your feet will be wet. Here it is best to concern yourself with good socks, and carry a change of socks if your hunt will last several hours.

It is best to wear layers when hunting in the rain, as clothes get wet, remove them. This is especially true if wearing heavy rain gear, the best rain gear will allow perspiration vapors to escape while keeping rain drops out. In theory this sounds great, however I seem to not sweat in vapor, rather in a flood, my sweat cannot evaporate when it is flowing. I prefer lightweight rain gear even on the coldest and most torrential downpours. The FroggTogg brand seems to work well, but it is a bit noisy, and cannot be repaired when the holes do appear. And they will appear.

To minimize this, I will wear my rain gear close to my skin, a cotton jacket and pant over the rain gear. This seems to help minimize the noise to an acceptable level. Garments made out of PVC or vinyl are better suited for fishing, skiing or snowshoeing – not hunting. These are, from my experience far too hot and cumbersome.

Some outdoorsmen will not hunt in the rain because they cannot fathom allowing their prized gun to ever get a drop of water on them. I for one am glad my guns don’t feel this way. They have spent so much time in the rain they embrace it and even look forward to it. They seem to perform better when dripping. Fortunately many firearm manufacturers today make guns suited for foul weather.

Light rain in November is the best time to still hunt. As you have no doubt read, if you have read any of my hunting stories, that this is my preferred method of hunting whitetail deer. Slipping through the forest silently and getting into range of a whitetail is the personification of hunting from my perspective. Eye to eye, moving, slipping through the rain soaked forest epitomizes the glory of the hunt. Rain allows me to do this and do it well. The damp forest floor softens my footsteps, the dim lighting hides my movement and the rain dripping from the trees masks any unnecessary noise I might inadvertently make. This double edge sword is also true for the whitetail. He is harder to distinguish in the low light, you will never hear him as he sunders through the forest. His confidence in his stealth is your only hope. The whitetail seems to feel very relaxed when it is raining. He knows most predators are holed up waiting for the weather to break. He feels safe and secure in the grey light.

Moving along through pine or hardwood forest is often your best chance of bagging him. However, if this is not something you enjoy, sitting on stand in the rain can be very productive. I have killed deer in rain so hard, I needed ear plugs to dampen the sound of it hitting my hat. I have seen bucks chasing does through driving rain and watched as they feed on acorns knocked from their perch by heavy droplets.

The old saying of “the best time to go deer hunting is when you can.” Is so true, the adventure, the chase cannot be adverted simply because the weather will not cooperate. Prepare for the weather, dress appropriately and you will have a great time hunting. Take it from me; hunting in foul weather can be a beautiful thing.