Hunting pheasants in the rain can be difficult if you don’t know the right tactics to use. In this review, we’ll discuss the best tips for hunting pheasants in the rain and tricks you can use to become a better pheasant hunter.
The best time to hunt pheasants is obviously not in the middle of a downpour, but sometimes we are left with little choice. Pheasant hunting can still be outstanding in a light rain and you shouldn’t cancel your hunt because of it.
The best tips for hunting pheasants in the rain are to key in on cover even more, work your way upwind, revisit prime areas multiple times, wear the right rain gear, and use topography to your advantage. Below are the top tips for hunting pheasants in the rain and why you should consider them on your next hunt.
1) Key in on cover even more
Pheasants love cover, but in the rain they love it even more. One of the best tips for hunting in the rain is to key in on thick vegetation that birds are using for refuge.
Thick vegetation like brush lines, shrubs, and thickets are where pheasants go when it’s raining and these are the areas I hit the most in these conditions. Occasionally I’ll find birds out in the open during rain storms, but the vast majority of birds are in tight among shrubs.
Light rain isn’t a big factor and it seems that pheasants keep to their routine in it. Moderate to heavy rain is the most difficult to hunt pheasants in, but if you must, hunt the thickest cover you can find.
Gamehide Switchgrass Upland Field Bird Hunting Vest
2) Work your way upwind
Rain tends to make tracking pheasants difficult as it washes away and masks scent. If your dogs can’t smell the pheasants, you’re going to have a hard time finding them.
Working your way up wind gives the scent from pheasants a chance to come back into the dog’s nose, rather than away from it. Hunting upwind can give you a better chance of keying in on moving birds and scent trails that may be masked by the rain.
I’ve experienced this several times after running an area with the wind and then walking back the opposite direction which results in a positive point. The dogs just missed the bird since there was very little scent due to the rain and the prevailing wind in their face helped them key in on the bird on the way back.
3) Revisit prime areas multiple times
If you have an area that routinely holds pheasants and it didn’t produce on your first run, revisit those areas multiple times when it’s raining. Pheasants sit really tight in the rain and it’s not uncommon to walk right by them or have the dog miss them on the first pass.
Additionally, I like to hunt the thickest cover in the rain so birds have a ton of options to hide. I often miss birds that were right in front of me and coming in from another angle either spooks the bird for a shot or the dog finally keys in on it.
If you know rain is imminent, you can also set up between the pheasants and thick cover. This trick works well in situations where pheasants feed in open grasslands or fields and make their way to fence lines and brush lines for cover.
4) Look for pheasant tracks in the mud
Tracking pheasants in the rain is another trick that often pays off big time. Being vigilant and reading pheasant tracks as you encounter them can help give you an idea of what direction they are heading, numbers of birds in the area, what habitat they are using the most, and how recently they’ve traveled through.
Light rain is the best time to track pheasants, especially if the rain started just as you begin your hunt. Every track you find will be fresh and you’ll be able to direct your working dogs in the direction the birds were headed.
Tracking pheasants can be difficult if there is no bare ground, but even disturbed vegetation shows up well in the rain and can be another tell-tale sign that pheasants were just moving through. While rain is not ideal for hunting pheasants, it can help give clues to where they are or what direction they are traveling.
5) Use topography to your advantage
Natural topography such as swales, draws, and hillsides can offer cover that pheasants seek during periods of heavy rain. This is especially true for the back sides of hills that act as wind breaks.
The best hunts I’ve had in bad weather including rain have been in areas that are the least exposed to wind and rain due to their natural topography. Reading the terrain where you hunt can help you narrow down the natural areas that birds are using for cover.
To fully take advantage of this, study the topographic maps of the areas you hunt. The contours will indicate elevation changes indicating swales, draws, and slopes that pheasants may be holding tight to in order to stay dry.
6) Wear the right gear for hunting pheasants in the rain
Most of my regular pheasant hunting gear isn’t waterproof and this poses a huge problem for hunting during the rain. Luckily I broke down and purchased a quality rain suit many years ago to keep me dry so I wouldn’t miss any hunting opportunities.
Since I usually walk several miles on a typical hunt, the rain gear I use is breathable to reduce moisture buildup and quick drying. Finding breathable rain gear is extremely important or you’ll end up with soaked clothes at the end of the day.
A good set of rain gear will ensure you’re comfortable during rain showers. Let’s face it, we can’t always choose when we hunt so being prepared for the worst is a must.
Browning Bird’n Lite Strap Vest
Hunting pheasants in the rain is not the ideal situation, but sometimes it’s the only time we can spend in the field. Light rain can still be productive, but moderate to heavy rain can kill scent trails and make finding pheasants extremely difficult.
Pheasants stick to thick cover in the rain and this type of habitat should be targeted the most. Work upwind to give your dogs a greater chance to pick up scent. Revisit prime habitat from multiple directions to help flush birds that are holding tight.
Rain can help loosen material on the ground surface making tracking pheasants easier. Pheasant tracks can help tell you which direction birds are headed, what habitat they are keying in on, and how many birds may be using the area.
Additionally, being familiar with the natural topography of the area you hunt can help you focus on natural wind breaks like swales, hillsides, and draws that pheasants are seeking for cover. Having a good set of rain gear will ensure that you’re comfortable and dry while hunting pheasants in the rain.
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