We’re finally getting some well needed moisture here on the west coast and that’s a good thing. A lot of people are confused on how and when to hunt when it rains.
There are several schools of thought. Some hunters will tell you a light rain is ok but if it’s a downpour, the only thing you’ll end up with is a cold. Here are some of my own experiences with lousy weather.
Typically a really good combination is light rain and wind. If you are hunting from a blind, you are likely to see lots of birds flying. Too much wind however usually makes them hold. The same usually holds true during a torrential downpour. Seriously, would you want to fly around?
But the good news is that there are usually periods of heavy rain and wind that changes to showers and fluctuating winds. I like days like that because it seems like the ducks are flying in all different directions. Like I said, this is typical for guys hunting rice and in a blind.
My favorite way to hunt in lousy weather, especially if it’s raining hard and blowing hard, is to jump shoot. Not only do you get a lot more action, you walk around a lot and stay warmer.
Depending on where you hunt can be significant. If you’re hunting rice or other wide open fields then this type of hunting is a lot more challenging. On the other hand, most duck hunters in the west have several options on where to hunt. I trade in the blind for a good old jump shooting day when it’s super nasty and I have a blast and almost always come home with a few birds.
Rivers are excellent places to jump shoot ducks. I used to hunt along the sacramento river where there is lots of cover and opportunities to sneak down to a raft of birds without them noticing. Up near Lake Tahoe you would always find me along the Truckee river when it was raining or snowing.
My dog and I would simply start at one end of the river and sneak our way up or down. Remember to consider the wind and that ducks almost always fly into the wind. Place yourself where you have a shot at birds flying up or down the river. I’ve found that they fly up and down all day long.
In lousy conditions, the birds will fly to a nice snuggly pond and hunker down. This is the beauty of jump shooting. I like to sneak along through the brush and stalk these nice little ponds along the river. If you’re doing it right you will spook them up just in time to get off a couple of shots. It’s a blast!
The same is true for small lakes, reservoirs and ponds. There are always ducks holed up somewhere. The key is to be very stealthy about your approach and position yourself where you think they might fly towards you. That’s why wind direction is important.
Jump shooting is fun, exciting, healthy and you see all kinds of critters while you’re out. I’ve sat in many blinds soaking wet and miserable only to get a duck or two. This is much more fun!
Photo credit: Dreamstime