Do Deer Move In The Rain...What Science Says | Great Days Outdoors

Do Deer Move In The Rain…What Science Says

“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” That’s a nursery rhyme we learn as kids. We sing it, memorize it, and sing it some more. It’s a staple, and one used to court the sun into “shooing” away those nasty rain clouds. Yet hunters should sing this song with moderation. It’s a rain dance, if you will. Instead, it should go, “Rain, rain, come today. I need to shoot a big buck, yay!” Not everyone agrees with this idea, though. Some biologists and hunters think there is something to it. Others do not. Either way, rain has the potential to impact the pursuit of whitetails so hunters need to pay attention and need to know…do deer move in the rain?

Do Deer Move In The Rain: What The Science Says

Surprisingly, there has been little research conducted to answer whether deer move more in the rain, or not. According to Levi Jaster, a wildlife biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the research is quite conflicting. The only study he’s aware of occurred in Oklahoma, and it found minimal effects or linkage between rain and deer movement. Interestingly, his sentiment is that deer live outside, and frequently encounter rain. He says that they can’t do anything about it, and likely don’t allow it to affect them too much.

Moriah Boggess, another deer biologist who works with the Indiana DNR, shares a similar opinion. He says the topic is very complex, and that the answer likely varies from situation to situation. For example, a rain event might be welcomed in one situation, and spark deer movement, and it could be a negative event in another situation, having minimal, zero, or even negative effects. It’s all about the specific situation.


do deer move in the rain

The author patterned this deer throughout the summer. (Honeycutt Creative photos)



These things aside, a few studies have shown a correlation between light rainfall and increased deer movement. Still, more research is needed to provide a definitive scientific answer on whether deer move more in the rain, or not.

Do Deer Move In The Rain: Anecdotal Research Says

I’ve spent nearly 25 years in the outdoors. I’ve had many a day in the deer stand that produced rainfall. Getting wet isn’t fun, but I’ve seen the effects that rain seems to have on deer. While this isn’t a blanket statement, I’ve seen numerous scenarios where rain seemingly helped.


deer in a field

The buck emerged shortly after a rain shower and remained in the open field feeding as it started to rain again. The author was able to get a shot at the deer as raindrops started falling once more. (Honeycutt Creative photos)



Of course, there are different types of rain events, and I’ve had varying experiences with each one. In my experience, some of these spark deer movement, while others hinder it. Generally, according to my experience, I believe heavy rains and rain with lightning tend to halt movement, as most inclement weather does. That said, light rain showers, and rain that ends in mid to late afternoon can spur deer to “rise and shine”. So can rain events that are immediately followed by a temperature drop. Each of these scenarios tend to boost daylight deer movement.

Do Deer Move In The Rain: A Case Study

Looking back across time, I’ve had several successful deer hunts on days with rain.  While this situation is purely anecdotal, I tend to thank the rain for my biggest buck. You see, I first learned of the big whitetail in 2017. He survived the season and returned in 2018.

I patterned the deer throughout the summer. A few days into the archery season, I was presented with a shot opportunity. That said, it’s important for me to back up and explain more.

The afternoon began with a walk to a poplar tree I’d picked out days before. I knew it was a great spot to intercept the big deer as it emerged from the cedar thicket and fed through the clover and hay field. Soon after settling into the treestand, an early afternoon rainstorm blanketed the area in a damp covering of precipitation.


do deer move in the rain

The author admires the big velvet 8-pointer. (Honeycutt Creative photos)


Incredibly, deer started moving during it, and as it ceased. First, some does. Then, a few smaller bucks. After that, several great bucks walked out, and the massive velvet eight pointer was with them. He stepped out in all his glory, and after nearly 20 minutes of watching him, I finally got a shot opportunity. I struck the 10-ring, and the deer toppled over on the edge of the field.

Naturally, I’m biasedly fond of light rain events because of this experience. Still  that doesn’t automatically mean everyone should believe rain boosts deer movement. Again, some instances seem to do so but others do not.

Regardless of the weather, deer are crepuscular animals. This means they move most at dawn and dusk. This has always been true, and will continue to be, so long as whitetails roam the deer woods. The bottom line is that  no matter where the answer on this topic eventually falls, hunters should always be careful when hunting in the rain. Always be cognizant of the situation, and never allow yourself to get too wet or cold in the outdoors. Even if you expect great movement, it isn’t worth risking hypothermia, or slipping and falling from a wet treestand platform.


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