By Douglas Rodriguez
Rained Out Quota Hunt? Not So Fast...
Every so often you may get the opportunity to take part in a quota hunt on public land. Congratulations, you are one of the lucky few to actually get drawn! You take the time off from work, cashed in your chips to be away from the family, and have your gear organized and packed. Then the rain rolls in…
Weather radar during the first afternoon of the hunt.
Greg and I had a similar scenario happen a couple of weeks ago. Greg got drawn for a rifle quota hunt on a WMA neither of us had previously hunted, so we figured to use the occasion to learn about a new area. The drawback to this WMA is that you cannot scout the area pre-hunt so the plan was to arrive mid-day to do some light scouting to find a decent set-up. We narrowed down a few areas beforehand via virtual scouting and planned to set-up in the most promising of these once we saw it first-hand. The forecast called for a high probability of rainstorms near dusk, nothing too much to worry about. On this trip, however, dusk turned out to be about 1 pm.
Why Rain Can Be Our Friend
I actually enjoy deer hunting in a light rain (as long there is no LIGHTNING!) for a number of reasons:
There are some things to keep in mind when hunting in wet weather, namely, the need to keep dry, warm, and safe. Good rain gear is a must as well as good waterproof footwear. And if doing any kind of climbing into a stand, I cannot place enough emphasis on the need to wear a harness and to use a safety rope. Again, if there is any hint of lightning, there is no way that you find me in a tree!
Personally, I only break out the rain gear when it is a heavy rain, unless the temperature is less than 50 F. Rare in Florida! When it is pouring, or cold and rainy, I break out a dark green poncho (with a hood) and put it on over my usual gear. I also tend to get overheated, so if it is raining while I’m walking to my set-up with my pack and tree stand on my back, I do without the poncho on the walk. In this case, I keep my hunting jacket and poncho in my pack, and then once I’m set-up in the tree, I’ll throw my dry jacket on and the poncho over it.
I have no hesitation about hunting in the rain with my bow or my rifle. Although with the later, I would not do so if I had a wood stock on my rifle. But since I have a composite stock, all is good. I do wipe down my bow or rifle following a wet hunt, and leave them out to air dry to prevent rust. If it is raining hard, though, I will not take my muzzleloader out for the fear of a misfire because of wet powder, not to mention the high potential for rust.
Returning to the Story of the "Rained Out" Hunt
On the above occasion where Greg and I almost got rained out, we used the cover of the down pour the first afternoon to do some scouting. We did some heavier scouting than usual if we were going to hunt an area immediately thereafter. I found an area that I liked with a heavy rub line on the edge of a thick pine and palmetto hammock that led into a creek bottom that was filled with oak trees. The rain continued all night and was forecast to continue until mid-morning. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to ambush a buck that was bedded down all night because of the heavy rain.
The next morning we got set up in our respective areas in the dark and I got soaked in the process. No worries though since I had my dry coat and poncho. The rain finally settled down an hour or so after daylight but the wind continued. The object of our hunt never made an appearance but a doe came through before the rain stopped. The rain and wind had her a bit skittish so she didn’t hang around long. After the rain let up, another doe and yearling did come out and feed below me for about an hour. I enjoyed watching them feed after what I imagine was a longer than usual time bedded. As both the doe and yearling fed, they each were extra alert because the wind was still relatively high. Watching them instilled a sense of calm in me from the knowledge that the doe was passing her survival skills to her offspring. Although we didn’t harvest anything this trip, the hunt was still a success.
Video of the doe and yearling from my tree climber stand 30 feet up a pine tree.
If you have any tips or experiences with hunting in the rain that we did not cover above, please let us know in the comments!