Bowhunting In The Rain—18 Tips You Should Know

In Bowhunting by Devin N.

As a beginner, you may be wondering whether or not hunting in the rain will affect the way you shoot or the way that you hunt, and for good reason.  As bowhunters, we cherish our bows.  We spend hundreds upon hundreds (or even thousands) of hard-earned dollars on hunting equipment and we want to make sure nothing happens to any of it.

Not only that, but we also wonder if it will affect the way we perform.  Bowhunting in crazy weather conditions can be very nerve-racking and worrisome if you’ve never done it before but with the right amount of skill and preparation, it can be less of a problem than you’d like it to be.

So, with taking equipment and performance into consideration, I know you’re now wondering, can you bowhunt in the rain?  Yes, you can.  Bowhunting in the rain is very possible and not as challenging as you might think it’d be if you’re able to effectively utilize good hunting strategies and equipment.  Bringing the right gear can keep you and your bow protected and dry while you’re out there, but there still are some challenges that need to be taken into consideration beforehand.

Even though it may not seem completely evident at the moment, hunting in the rain can present a whole slew of different challenges, but luckily, there are ways around it.  You may be dealing with anything from slippery surfaces to soaked gear, but don’t worry, there are some upsides to bowhunting in the rain and there are steps you can take to make some of these issues a little less problematic.  Stick around as I go a little more into detail on what some of these advantages and disadvantages are so that you can know exactly what to expect before your trip in the rain.

Wax Your Gear

I know a main concern when it comes to hunting in the rain is whether or not your gear, specifically your bow, will get messed up if it is exposed to rainwater for long periods at a time, and I’m here to tell you that if you keep your string waxed, you will not likely have any issues.

The wax will keep the water from soaking into the string and will allow for accurate shots despite the weather if applied frequently.  Depending on how much you shoot your bow whether that be for hunting or just practicing, it is important to keep your string waxed, no matter what the weather is.

Some hunters apply wax every day while others apply once a month, but to stay on the safe side I suggest applying a good layer of wax once a week.  This will keep your string from fraying and will give you one less problem to worry about when hunting in wet weather conditions.

Watch Out For Slick Ground

Wet Surfaces Can Be Very Dangerous

Between rocks, animal carcasses, and loose logs, hunting grounds can present very real dangers if one is not careful.  You could easily trip, fall, and possibly even seriously hurt yourself if you are not experienced or are not practicing safe hunting strategies, but when grounds are wet, these threats may become 10 times worse.

To avoid any major accidents that could result in you cutting your trip short or ending up being seriously hurt, avoid walking around as much.  Simply walking will increase your chances of slipping on something when the ground is wet and should be cut back on unless you absolutely have to make a move to another location.

Now, of course, not walking at all is virtually impossible when hunting and sometimes you have no choice but to walk such as when you’re tracking an animal down after a shot or heading back to the truck to get some extra supplies, so in those instances, you’ll want to have on a nice pair of slip-resistant hunting boots.

These boots will keep you grounded for the most part and will make walking around the slippery woods a little easier and a little less worrisome.

Practice In The Rain

What better way to prepare for hunting in the rain then to practice in the rain?  Practicing in the rain can get you better prepared for your hunt by gaining first-hand experience on what you might expect the day or days of your hunt.  If your primary target when hunting is deer, then I highly recommend this target here from Amazon for the best possible practice experience

Just like hunting in the hot summer sun or in the cold, rigid conditions that winter can present, bowhunting in the rain can bring it’s fair share of challenges as well, so getting out there and maybe practicing a few shots in the backyard on a target might give you that experience you need to help you effectively hunt without any shooting issues.

Start shooting from 10 yards and then work your way up to 20 yards, 30 yards and so forth.  This will help determine how well you are able to shoot at each distance with the distraction of the rain and will give you a good idea of where and at what distance you need to practice at more so that you can comfortably take down your next game animal from any distance without any real problems.

Limited Visibility

It’s hard enough to have to shoot through trees, branches, and overgrown bushes, but when rain is mixed in with that, the challenges that you already face will be taken to a whole different level.  Accuracy is key when it comes to taking down any animal, and when your visibility is reduced, this can make shooting seem like an impossible feat.

Conditions in which the rain is coming down heavily will also make retrieving arrows and spotting animals from a distance that much more difficult and can be pretty annoying to deal with after hours upon hours of losing game because of how distracting and troublesome the rain is.

Many hunters do not prefer to hunt in the rain for this very reason, and after hunting in conditions in which the rain has dropped fairly heavily, I can see why.  Bowhunting is a challenging sport and when your vision is limited, it can make the challenge that much more difficult to take on.

You Might Be Surprised At What You Might Tag

Take Your Chances

Between work, family obligations, and personal responsibilities, picking and choosing what day you hunt on is not always an option.  When life is too busy we have to take what we can get and tough it out until a better day comes along.

With that said, hunting in weather conditions that you would normally pass up on is not always an option.  Yes, hunting in the rain can be difficult, but sometimes it is better than sitting at home and not hunting at all.

If you want to get the most out of your bow season, you’ll have to get out there and take your chances whenever you’re able to.  Nobody wants to look forward to a long hunt in dark, gloomy, and wet weather, but when hectic schedules come into play and opportunities only come so often, you’ll have to take whatever you can get.

And even though the chances of you tagging something may be reduced due to the conditions at hand, they’re far greater than if you were to just not hunt altogether.

Bring Bigger Broadheads

Not all animals will require you to use the same broadheads, but when dealing with a commonly hunted animal such as a deer, it is best to use a good broadhead that will pack a punch to help reduce the amount of footwork that you will have to put in on a rainy day.

I recommend using this particular broadhead that you can get from Amazon, but there a slew of different ones you can use to get the job done.  Hitting the target dead on with a good broadhead will help keep you from traveling too far away from your hunting location and will make hunting in the rain easier.

If hit in the right spot, a deer will fall within visible distance and will make trackability one less thing to worry about.

Look At The Forecast

The weather can be very unpredictable, so glancing at the forecast a few times throughout the day of your hunt is always the best idea.  Where I’m from, weather can jump anywhere from bright and sunny to dark, cloudy, and rainy, so knowing what you can expect for the hunt ahead will serve you well in knowing how or if you should even prepare for the weather that lies ahead of you.

Even if you know the weather for that day will be bad, keep checking, because things could get worse.  You don’t want to be caught outside when there is a tornado or other catastrophic weather conditions that could potentially be dangerous for you to be in.

It is already safe to have a phone with you for emergency situations, but if you’re able to, download a weather app on your phone as well so that you can stay updated throughout the duration of your trip.  This will make extremely unpredictable weather conditions much easier to deal with.

Mountaintops And Tree Stands Are Unsafe In Lightning Storms

Avoid High Locations

Hunting in heavy rain is one thing, but hunting during a lightning storm is another.  Lightning can be a real big threat if you are on high ground or extremely open areas. So, if possible, avoid hunting on these kinds of days altogether or wait for it to pass before heading out.

Mountaintops will leave you exposed with little to no cover and tree stands will heighten your chances of being struck by lightning simply for the fact that you are further off the ground, so when hunting during any day in which it is raining, avoid doing those two things until you get a better day to hunt.

It’s okay to take chances when it comes to bowhunting in crappy weather conditions, but it is also important that we stay safe at all times and not make decisions that could cause any type of harm to our wellbeing.

Sound Will Be In Your Favor

The good thing about bowhunting in the rain is that it will actually help mask the sound that we as hunters make when tracking down wild game in the woods.  Leaves and debris can make going unspotted and unheard a huge challenge, so having the rain to cover some of that noise will give us the advantage over the animals every single time.

Of course, we should still practice safe hunting strategies and still make an effort to make the least amount of noise as possible as deer and other game animals has a very keen sense of hearing, but with the rain pouring, an occasional slip up might go a little more unnoticed compared to if it were not raining.

The rain will allow you to sneak up on animals a little quicker by masking out the sound of leaves crunching and twigs cracking as you’re approaching them for the kill shot. 

Don’t Take Risky Shots

Taking a risky shot is bad in almost any hunting condition, but when it’s raining out, this is a very, very huge problem for hunters.  The reason you want to avoid taking too much of a risky shot is because if you miss your intended target and your arrow hits anywhere besides where the kill zone is, you’re in big trouble when it comes to tracking.

This is because rain will wash away much-needed blood trails for retrieving game that has been successfully shot down or wounded and without that blood, you might find yourself on a wild goose chase until you eventually pack it up and go home with nothing to show for it.

No arrow is ever guaranteed to hit a target no matter how experienced you are, but if you want to increase your accuracy so that the chances of you missing a shot in any hunting circumstance decrease, especially in the rain, practice as much as you possibly can before the day of your hunt.

If you’re feeling down in the dumps and don’t think that your shooting skills are up to par for that particular day, skip out on your hunt and go when you feel confident that you will be able to hit your target with accuracy.

Keep Covered

Ground Blinds Can Help With Staying Dry

Light rain or heavy rain, you will likely get soaked if you are out hunting in it long enough.  The less you wear, the more you will get wet, and if you’re not into getting completely drenched while you hunt, then I highly suggest you bring some sort of cover to prevent that from happening.

Tree stand umbrellas are great for this and have been highly effective for hunters that have decided to take their chances out in the rain.  Also, with the added noise of the rain, you might even be able to get away with wearing a lightweight rain-resistant jacket of nosier material without getting into much trouble with scaring away the animals.

Whatever you use though, just make sure you are properly covered.  Bowhunting without the right gear and coverage can result in messy shots and can make judging a shot effectively very difficult.   

Safety Tips

Aside from staying off high mountaintops, out of tree stands during times in which there is lightning in the sky, and keeping walking on slippery surfaces to a minimum as much as possible, it is safe to practice overall safety throughout the duration of your trip.

We know what to avoid and what not to do when hunting in rainy weather, but not all of us know how to react just in case something does happen, especially beginners.  Nobody anticipates going into the rain and because of the conditions, slipping and falling and seriously hurting yourself, but it is a real possibility if the right steps aren’t taken, so make sure you’re being safe the entire time and not just when you think it makes sense to.

Unsafe habits can result in horrible outcomes and as a fellow hunter, I don’t want to see anybody go through that.  Hunting accidents are rare, but they do happen, so keep safety in mind on your next trip and every trip after that. 

Plan Your Strategy

It’s good to have a good strategy in mind before any hunt, but when it comes to the rain, you might have to put a little more thought into it.  Different factors such as high wind, heavy downpours, and wet clothing are all things to take into consideration before leaving the house, and this is why it is always good to check the forecast beforehand.

You might plan on hunting the ground, but considering the circumstances, that might not be the best idea.  High winds mixed with heavy rain might call for a nice ground blind and light rain with hardly any wind might call for a tree stand and a cover.

To help determine which one you should use for your hunt, assess the weather 30 minutes to an hour before leaving the house.  Weather changes all the time, so having the right gear with you when it does or doesn’t will always work in your favor.

Getting Familiar With The Land Will Make Your Trip Easier

Know The Land

It is not always possible to hunt on land that you’re familiar with, but if it is an option, please do.  As we now know, hunting in the rain can make tracking animals difficult as it will wash the blood trail that many hunters rely on away, but if you’re familiar with the land, you may find that it is easier to find your way through the property without much worry of getting lost or traveling too far away from where you’re set up at.

Scouting the land or just simply hunting the same piece of land over and over again will help you get a better understanding of where things are and how far out you can travel when tracking down an animal without getting lost in the process.

It can be intimidating to wander too far off in an area in which you are unfamiliar with, so either hunt when the rain is either too light to completely wash a blood trail away or scout the land and get comfortable with your surroundings as you will likely have to venture off in random directions until you find your animal.

Bring Your Buddies

Friends are always good to bring along with you on your hunt, and this is something that I always recommend doing for safety purposes, but if you’re stuck in a situation in which you’ve just shot an animal and you’ve completely lost its trail, it’s good to have a few buddies with you to help track it down.

One set of eyes is better than two and if you’re all able to walk in different general directions in which you saw the target run off, the chances of you finding it quicker are that much greater.  If you’re hunting on property that your friend or friends may know better than you, even better.

Having a couple buddies with you will save you a ton on time tracking and will reduce the chances of you gaining a huge headache if you were to just track down an animal by yourself.  Many hunters won’t even hit the land if it’s raining, so if you feel you absolutely have to or have no other choice, bring a couple friends with you.

Dress For The Occasion

Water-resistant jackets are great for stopping too much water from soaking into your clothes, but if the rain is not heavy enough, they can be quite loud.  If that is the case, then bring along thick wool or cotton clothing instead.

A nice, thick coat or jacket that is made out of material that won’t make much noise will help soak up a lot of the water before getting onto your under layer of clothing and ruining your trip altogether.

Also, rain is usually accompanied by high wind and chilly weather, so having clothes that will provide lots of warmth and comfort will also play in your favor.  There’s nothing worse than being wet and cold at the same time, so dress appropriately so that you won’t regret it later.  

Bring Extra Gear

Extra Gear Can Help Keep You Nice And Dry

No matter how hard you try, hunting in the rain without getting wet is pretty much unavoidable.  You can camp out in a ground blind or sit in the tree stand with a cover, but when it’s time to get out and track that animal down, you are likely to get soaked, and fast.

This would usually be the time you would throw on a water-resistant coat or jacket, but if you don’t have one, bring extra gear with you just in case.  An extra coat or jacket can come in handy if you get too wet and will allow you to hunt comfortably without being completely covered in cold rain.

If you’re hunting in a ground blind, bring a portable heater with you if possible.  The heater can be great for drying off clothes that are already wet and will allow you to stay warm and toasty while you sit there and dry off from the previous pair of clothing.

After The Hunt

When everything is said and done with and you (hopefully) had a successful trip, it’s time to safely pack everything up and head back to the house.  Shake all wet gear off and use an old scent-free rag or cloth to dry off any extra water off of your equipment.

Store wet clothing into bags and prepare to wash them in scent-free detergent for the next trip.  After that, either dry your clothes off in the dryer or wait until the rain stops and put them outside to hang on the clothesline.

Make sure to never leave rainwater on clothes to dry as they will likely grow mildew and make clothes smelly and harder to wash.  Take your dry clothes and store them in a scent free place afterward. 

For more in-depth info on how to properly care for your hunting clothes and stay scent-free for future trips, check out this article here. I explain how to be scent-free and what exactly you should do to keep your clothes fresh and secure. 

Conclusion

Although it may not sound like a challenging thing to do, rain hunting can be a very difficult thing to pull off, so difficult that a good majority of bowhunters avoid it completely, but with enough planning and determination, it can be done.

Having the gear for safety, staying dry, and keeping warm are all big things to take into consideration and should be very well thought of before you leave the house.  Having a few good friends to help track down animals without a blood trail can be a huge time saver and will allow you to retrieve an animal that’s been shot down a lot quicker.

If you utilize all the things that I mentioned in this article, you may very well be on your way to having a successful hunt in the rain, and unfortunately, that is not something that I can say for a lot of other hunters.  Rain isn’t taken as seriously as it should and if hunting in it were more planned out, we’d have more hunters having more success in doing so.