Your alarm chimes and you stretch as you get up out of bed. You start a morning pot of coffee and get your camouflage out of your closet because you’re going squirrel hunting today. You are excited to get into the woods. As you open the front door RAIN! Rain can ruin a number of hunting plans, including the plans of the squirrel hunter but does rain need to always keep you indoors? How do squirrels naturally react to rain? These are a few of the questions that we’re planning to try to answer.
So, if you wake up to a rainy morning, should you go squirrel hunting? I struggle to EVER have an excuse not to get into the woods; even a bad day hunting is better than a good day at work. With that said, If you wake up to a downpour.. stay home or try to wait it out? I’ve had too many experiences where heavy rains have made hunting almost impossible and in the end I return home with only a squirrel of two and completely drenched.
Often times you may be better off staying at home doing something else entirely. Now, let me expand on this a small bit. If the weather is supposed to get a little better, if the rain starts to lighten up or if there is no heavy winds (or lightening) I would personally go ahead and go. Take a camo colored poncho or some Gortex and do it!
There is no sure fire way to be certain if a weather forecast will come true or not. They say rain, we get sun.. it’s a guessing game, but if the weather appears like it may improve enough to be tolerable in the woods don’t pass up on the chance to go. But before you choose to brave the rain and mud, here are some areas to consider if you have never been hunting in the rain. The most important thing to take into account is that heavy rain takes away one of your most effective hunting tools.. your sense of hearing. Listening for squirrel activity is very important and when that tool is reduced or taken from you due to heavy rains or winds, you are at a disadvantage that can be difficult, if not impossible to overcome. Often times wind accompanies rain so you’ve got rain drops hitting leaves all around you and producing noise that masks the sounds of any squirrels nearby. The winds can also move the tree tops minimizing your ability to see a squirrel moving along above. Plus it’s hard on the mechanical aspects of your firearm. If you go, remember to clean and lubricate your firearms when you get home. Don’t just place it in the closet and forget about it, this can promote rust and could eventually ruin your firearm.
After hearing all of that, why would I still say get out there and hunt? Well, with any other situation, it isn’t all bad. Let’s look at some of the advantage you may get from hunting in a light rain (or if you’re fortunate enough that it stops). During a light rain or drizzle (without high winds) you can still expect to see squirrels. They are wild animals after all and rain isn’t abnormal to them so if it doesn’t make them too uncomfortable, they’ll often come out of their dens. My personal experience is that I often see more Red squirrels when it’s raining than any other. I’m not sure if there is any reason for that or not, just my personal experience. Another personal experience that may or may not hold true to everyone is that in the hour or two before or after a rainfall, squirrels seems to sense it coming and can go into over drive.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is that most hunters will stay home freeing up more woods with less competition for you. This can be a gift for you. Less spooked squirrels, less gunfire in the distance, less overlap between hunting grounds, these are great reasons to give it a shot. You also have to consider that rain softens the ground and particularly the leaves that are on it making your trek in the woods quieter. You may find that you can get close enough to throw a rock and hit a squirrel if you sneak up on a squirrel right after a good rain.
One last advantage of squirrel hunting after or during a light rain (this does not apply to heavy rain or if it’s windy) is that when a nearby squirrel moves, it shakes the branches and then all of the rain drops that have gathered on it FALL simultaneously making it obvious of where a squirrel is active. I can’t tell you the number of times I thought I was regretting the fact that I was in the woods when the rain rolled it, but after sticking it out and the rain stopped, I found squirrel after squirrel. So whether or not you go squirrel hunting in the rain is a personal choice. You can accomplish it, and be successful, but the question is do you want to brave the elements?