Brantley: A Buck in the Rain

Rut Reporter Will Brantley of Murray, Kentucky, knows the region well. He spends 40 to 50 days each season in the Mid-South whitetail woods. Brantley shot his first deer at age 10 with a sidelock muzzleloader. States covered: KY, TN, WV, VA, NC.

I went on my first bowhunt for pronghorn last weekend in Colorado. It was a ball, and even though I did kill my first antelope (albeit a little one), the highlight of the trip was when I got a frantic call from my wife, Michelle, Saturday evening.

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__She'd been bowhunting by herself back in Kentucky, and had just shot a nice velvet-clad buck that she'd been watching all summer (that's the buck in the foreground of the trail-camera photo).

"It is storming and pouring down rain," she said. "I was packing all my stuff to leave when he came running across the field straight to me." She managed a few quick video snippets, of the buck coming in, after the shot, and the next morning at the taxidermist's shop. The footage is a little shaky, but give her some slack--you can tell by the video she's pretty excited.

Bowhunting in the rain has its drawbacks, of course. Despite a good hit, Michelle said the blood trail was quickly washed away. The buck didn't make it more than 100 yards before crashing, but it took a little effort to find him afterward. And of course, sitting in a treestand with rain pelting you is anything but pleasant. Michelle was hunting from a box blind when she shot this buck, so she stayed dry.

Many times, though, the rain bothers us hunters much more than it does the deer. It was warm and windy when Michelle climbed into her stand, but an approaching cold front carried the rain, wind, and lightning--as well as falling pressure. When weather patterns change and the barometer starts acting crazy, it tends to put game animals on their feet, at least for a while.

This is obviously true during the early season, but some of the best rutting activity I've ever seen has been just before an impending cold front during turbulent weather. Does often scramble to food sources for a quick meal before bedding down and riding out the storm. Bucks know that, and it'll get them on their feet at the same time. There'll often be a lull in activity just after the front passes, and then another flurry of action the following day, when a high pressure sets in and the temperatures plummet.

Fall is marked by one cold front after another. Watch the weather, and try to plan a few hunts around them this season. You might be surprised at what you see on a rainy, windy day.