The weather can affect everything from what you wear to how you hunt.
When you bowhunt deer in the rain cut your shooting distance in half to have a closer, more-accurate shot.
Bad weather can affect deer movement. Deer are less likely to move during a heavy downpour as they will later in the day when the rain has passed through the area. Adjust your hunting time accordingly. You may also want to watch The Weather Channel to see if there will be any breaks in the weather or a couple hours between snow fronts. When the rain or snow slows down or stops awhile, animals will move around.
Deer can't hear or see well during heavy rain or high winds so they'll likely stay in their beds. Hunting later in the morning may be more effective.
If you are using scents or lures, use more during cold weather and less during hot weather. Cold air is dense, heavy air that results in less efficient scent dispersal so more scent is needed to reach out to the desired area.
The best way to cope with bad weather is to expect it and to prepare for it by having all the equipment you need. This is especially true when hunting with an outfitter far from home. Says H.S. Pro Staffer Bob Foulkrod, "I plan ahead for bad weather by stocking two large Rubbermaid containers with foul-weather gear--chemical heat warmers, rain suits, odor-eliminating systems like Scent-A-Way Soap and Scent-A-Way Spray and extra clothes stored in Hunters Specialties Scent Safe Clothing Bags. I pack enough clothes and gear in those two containers to endure a drought, thunderstorm or blizzard. Then I'll ship the containers to my outfitters one week before I'm scheduled to arrive."
Keeping yourself warm, dry and comfortable means you can hunt longer and with less movement, increasing your chances for success.
Turkeys can be called in all types of weather, but certain conditions are more challenging. In windy weather it will be hard for the gobbler to hear and hard for you to hear him. You should used a higher-pitched call with more volume, like a pan friction call. During windy weather turkeys will tend to move to open fields where they can make better use of their two main lines of defense--their eyes and ears.
In rainy weather a turkey's lines of defense are also reduced due to the lowered visibility and heightened surrounding noise level. Turkeys will again move to more open areas and a higher volume call will be needed to cut through the noise created by rain. In addition, a rain-soaked turkey requires a longer runway in order to get airborne and escape predators. This will also drive turkeys into more open areas. You may find that gobblers and hens spend more time on the roost during a rain because they are reluctant to leave the security of a protected tree.
Snow is a third weather condition affecting some spring turkey hunters. Snow and cold can make turkeys very quiet so they could come to a call without gobbling. If possible, hunt mid-day because the snow may mean that gobblers leave the roost later. Finally, hunt south-facing slopes, which will receive the most sun and will be the warmest areas. These areas may also be the first to lose their snow cover, attracting birds looking for food.
Weather has a huge impact on waterfowl; everything from breeding locations to migrations can be driven by the weather. For instance, if snow covers up their food source, especially for a prolonged period of time, the birds will migrate.
Rainy days tend to not be good waterfowl hunting days because there is less bird movement. "That's not to say you can't shoot birds in the rain," says Three-Time World Duck Calling Champion Barnie Calef, "but the old saying 'it's a good day for ducks' is true." Calef says his ideal hunting day is a bright sunny day, cold and crisp, with a 15 mph wind from the northwest.
Wind plays a big role in hunting success because the birds land into the wind. The waterfowler should set the decoys with this in mind to take full advantage of the positioning of birds for a shot. Wind also adds life to your decoys by creating movement. If there is no wind the birds may continually circle only to finally leave.
The temperature can affect your hunting success by limiting where ducks can be found. A duck needs open water, food and cover to survive. If those elements are removed the ducks will move to where they can find them.
"My favorite time to hunt is during a bitter cold snap," says Calef. "Everything will be frozen with the exception of moving water or areas such as power plant discharges. This really concentrates the birds so scouting is generally easy; go find open water and you've found birds. A lot of people don't realize how hardy mallards are. They will find open water for a drink so as long as they have a food source, they're content with winter temps."
Wind will be the greatest detrimental type of weather. You will need more volume in your calling. If you are using a hand call, you may find that an electronic caller provides greater volume. Windy weather makes animals much more alert (or nervous) when they approach. The stronger the wind, the farther out they will circle when coming in.
You will also need to increase the volume in snowy conditions. The length of calling time should increase in deep snow.
Sunny days will give you the advantage of shade in contrast to cloudy days which take away that tool. Hot days can affect wildlife by cutting down on their movement.
Drought conditions can be a plus. If there is no grass then there will be few rabbits, which makes the coyotes very callable.
"The basic techniques of calling remain the same regardless of the weather," says H.S. pro Gerald Stewart.
Elk and Western Hunting
If it has been dry, a good rain will help the hunt. However, if it rains too much it will move the elk.
Rain in the lower elevations can mean snow and ice up high. You should always be prepared for changes in the weather.
If you are using scents and lures, they can be affected by thermals. Hot air rises when the sun warms the cool ground. This creates columns of air which push smells virtually straight up. In the evening the smells drop straight down. Cool air has pushed many hunters' odors right down mountain sides to the keen noses of elk and mule deer. Thermals are more of a factor in mountain country where surface temperatures fluctuate due to altitude.