Do Deer Move In The Rain? | Factors That Influence Deer Movement In Rain

Do Deer Move in the Rain
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Since you’re wondering if deer move in the rain, I’ll assume you’re a pretty hardcore deer hunter and don’t mind hunting in the rain or getting wet as long as there is a decent chance the deer will be moving. After all, there are only so many days in the season.

I’m also guessing you want to know if it will be worth your time and energy before you go through the trouble of getting soaked, am I right? Look no further, I’ve got you covered in this post.

Do Deer Move In The Rain?

The short answer is yes, deer do move in the rain but the degree to which movement occurs depends on a few simple factors. These main factors include; the intensity of rainfall, time of year, and recent weather.

In this post, I break how these factors play a role in deer movement so you will be able to determine for yourself if deer will be moving on the particular rainy day you want to hunt.

Intensity of Rainfall

Not all rain events are created equal as it relates to deer movement. Learning how much and why deer move differently in varying intensities of rain will allow you to take advantage of the short deer hunting season. There are only so many days in the deer hunting season, make the best use out of them by understanding these principles.

Do Deer Move In Light Rain?

Light rain does not hinder their movement. It is common to see deer on the side of the highway while driving during light rain. Highway grasses are some of the first to turn green in spring. Deer are selecting for grasses and forbs at this time of year. Rainwater acts as ‘salad dressing’ if you will and makes grasses and forbs more palatable for deer.

Light rain does not have much effect on deer movement throughout the year or during hunting season.  Deer will be moving during light rain because it does not handicap their ability to detect danger to any significant degree. In their minds, it is worth the risk to move around and feed during light rain.

Although deer will be moving during light rain, you may notice that they are a little more ‘on edge’ in some instances. Especially pressured deer, because when the woods are quiet deer rely more on vision instead of hearing. This may mean that deer are moving slower, and perhaps not as far from their bedding areas during daylight.

Do Deer Move In Moderate Rain?

Moderate rain will hinder movement to some degree. As rain increases to a moderate intensity deer will start to lose their ability to effectively use their three main senses to detect danger; sight, smell, and hearing. If you see deer moving during moderate rain, you may notice that they are a little more ‘on edge’ than in light rain. Especially, pressured deer.

You can increase your chances of seeing deer moving in moderate rain by taking into consideration the time of year and recent weather (discussed in detail below).

Do Deer Move In Heavy Rain?

There is a limit to how much rain deer will tolerate before movement is greatly reduced. Heavy rains will greatly reduce your odds of seeing deer moving. Deer feel their ability to detect danger is almost non-existent and become very nervous.

To increase their survival probability and gain an advantage over predators in situations when their senses are basically useless, they will strategically bed down so that they have some sort of advantage.

Once heavy rain subsides it is a great time to be in the woods. After rain showers, you’ll often notice deer grazing in fields because of the ‘salad dressing’ effect previously mentioned. When you notice other wildlife such as birds, squirrels, and chipmunks come out of hiding you can bet deer are moving too.

Recent Weather Patterns Influence Deer Movement In The Rain 

Recent weather events will also be a factor in much deer will be moving on a particular day. If the days prior to a rain event are sunny then deer will be in slight shock during the first day or two of moderate rainfall. For this reason, they will hunker down in their bedding areas.

If there was a 3 day stretch of moderate rain in a row and you wanted to hunt the 4th day that also calls for moderate rain intensity, your odds are much higher on the 4th day rather than the first day or two. This is because after a few days deer will become acclimated to the rain to a degree. They will also need to eat at some point.

During periods of heavy rainfall, deer will stay put for longer periods of time and will only move when they really need to. This is true even if the rain event occurs for many consecutive days. Of course, they will still need to eat and will likely move short distances in order to find just enough to eat and then go lay back down again.

Time of Year Influences Deer Movement In The Rain

Deer are heavily influenced by the time of year because of their energetic shift from season to season. The time of year will determine what stage of movement they will be in. To learn more about whitetail energetics see my post; Whitetail Energetics: The Key to Finding Big Bucks. 

Do Deer Move In The Rain During The Early Season?

During the early season, deer are not moving very much in general. They stick to their strict summer patterns to pack on the weight for the upcoming breeding season and winter months. Light rain will not affect deer at this time very much, moderate rain will have some effect on movement, and heavy rain will keep deer in bedding areas until bad weather subsides.

Do Deer Move In The Rain During The Rut Phases?

The rut, however, is a very short period, and energetically it makes sense for deer to move in the rain to procreate. Bucks will sacrifice their otherwise cautious nature and use their precious energy reserves for breeding activity. That being said, increasing intensities of rain will still reduce the odds of seeing deer at this time of year. However, your chances are higher than at any other time of year when hunting in rain.

You are much more likely to see deer moving in moderate amounts of rain during the rut phases. This is true even in heavy rain to a degree, but the probability does still diminish quite a bit. You never know during the rut though, you could get lucky from a treestand.

Do Deer Move In The Rain During The Post-Rut?

During the post-rut deer are getting into their late-season patterns and are again trying to conserve energy for winter. For this reason, deer aren’t going to be moving in the rain as they were during the rut. Deer movement in the rain will be similar to that during the early season,. However, it is very likely deer have moved to a different location for the winter months. Light rain will not affect deer very much at this time. Moderate rain will have some effect on movement, and heavy rain will keep deer in bedding areas until bad weather subsides.

How To Hunt Deer In The Rain

As discussed above, deer don’t move as much as rain intensity increases because their ability to detect danger is reduced. Although they might not be moving much, this can be an advantage for a smart hunter.

Instead of waiting for the deer to come to you, go to the deer. Deer will not be able to hear, smell, or see you very well in moderate to heavy rain. This is a great opportunity to sneak through some bedding areas and catch a deer by surprise.

A good hunter knows how to keep the odds in his favor when hunting no matter the weather conditions. There is never a good reason to avoid hunting. There is always a tactic you can implement in order to create your own success.


What you should take away from this article is that deer do move in the rain, but their movement decreases in proportion with increasing intensities of rain. That said, you need to take into consideration the time of year and the weather to determine your best plan of action when hunting deer in the rain.

What will you do to put the odds in your favor when it’s raining?

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Article Written By: Jason Tome

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