There are always mixed opinions of hunting when the weather is not playing game. I know guys who won’t hunt if it looks like rain and guys who will happily hunt in the worst of weather. I generally fall into the latter category (I am getting softer as a get older though….). Through my work hunting and glacier guiding I have had the pleasure of witnessing some amazing weather events.
As a guide, the weather is the biggest factor that we have the least control of. We often organize hunts years in advanced and pick dates and locations long before weather can be considered. Over the years, I have some what become accustomed to “weather”, I’m not tough by any means, I feel the cold and don’t like being wet any more than the average guy. But often you just have to deal with it and good modern gear can make a huge difference to comfort. Getting out of a wet tent and into wet gear on a rainy day can be a real struggle at times. But once you start moving around you soon forget the feeling of wet boots and socks.
Although I have had trophies shot from camp, I think you have to be in it to win, and even if you have a low chance of finding an animal on a rainy day it’s still a higher chance than if you’re sitting in your sleeping bag.
I have seen quite a few people who spend big money on rain gear and are afraid to get it wet. If you’re going to spend hard earned cash on gear, use it.
Some of the best hunting days and trophies I have taken have been during “weather” days and I have outlined below why I think this is the case.
Low cloud and fog is a real challenge to hunt in. But it works both ways, if you can’t see much neither can they. Often when weather is coming in and out you can spot an animal, wait for the cloud to come and make an otherwise exposed stalk in complete cover. I have done this several times with different species and it works more often than not. Hunting in a low vis environment can be very dangerous so ensure you know the area well and have your camp route well set out ahead of time. A GPS really comes into its own in these conditions. A lot of places the cloud often clears just as the sun goes down (change in Temperature), so sit it out and see what happens.
Rain comes in all shapes and forms, but it all has one thing in common, its WET. Hunting in the rain (especially bowhunting) is very productive I think. Animals scenting ability is disrupted allowing you more opportunities in swirling wind. After a longer period of rain animals must keep moving and feeding to stay warm. They can’t just sit in the tent and eat chocolate. More time with their heads down equals better stalking chances. Rain also provides a good noise cover as well. Light steady rain can provide a huge benefit to those hunters who are willing get out of the tent.
High winds can be a real struggle to hunt in, especially with a big pack on and this is the weather I am most likely to avoid. High wind can make glassing and shooting very difficult. But find the shelter and you will find the animals. Hunting the lee side of the mountain is always worth a go, but swirling winds can make bowhunting quite hard.
Wet clothes: There is nothing quite like the feeling of crawling into soaking wet gear on a freezing morning! But on long wilderness hunts with constant rain you have no option sometimes. One set of wet clothes to hunt in and one dry pair. Your dry gear in camp is your life line. Always keep one set of thermal under wear dry at a minimum. Keeping your camp clothes dry, often means wet gear on every morning, but you soon warm up, and this is where good gear can really shine.
Wet Boots: Wet boots are a pretty normal thing here on a lot of hunts. Double socks and careful foot care is needed. Wet feet soften quickly and feet can get messy quickly. Tape and good boots and socks are your friends. A water bottle full of hot water inside your boots can help warm and dry them a little. Removing insoles when in camp helps dry boots faster. As does dry socks every day but sometimes that’s not an option. I have also used the kiwi classic of pouring warm water in your boots in the morning to get them on. Warm and wet is nicer than wet and frozen!
Optics: Scope covers are a must, if you can’t see you can’t shoot! This is one bonus of bow hunting in the rain. Also Tape on the barrel is important.
Tents: A tent becomes your refuge in severe weather. This is where the cheap ones and the pricy ones really stand apart. I prefer full bath tub floor 3 or 4 season tents. But there are a lot of systems that work well depending on the situation you’re in.
A light weight Tarp/poncho/bothy bag is well worth having in your pack. Setting up a small shelter for lunch out of the wind/rain really helps with moral and general well-being. These also serve as a great emergency shelter if you can’t get back to camp.
Hazards: Hunting during ‘weather brings about a whole other set of risks and hazards. Chances of slipping and falling are greatly increased, rockfall and avalanches are far more prone during rain, low vis can be dis orientating, high winds can also cause rock fall and tree fall. You need to be aware of all these and others and make your own calls about when its time to sit it out.
About the Author
Owner/Operator of Hard Yards Hunting. Mountain hunting, especially for Tahr is my true passion and I spend as much time as I can in the hills. When I'm not guiding I am usually hunting for my self or testing gear.