Opening Day of deer-hunting season last weekend conjured up memories of a hunt that occurred over a decade ago but under somewhat similar circumstances. Maine was getting hammered by the residual effects of a tropical storm and I was greeted by the sound of wind-driven rain when I woke well before dawn. I was sorely tempted to roll over and go back to sleep and were it any other day I might have yielded.

Rain-soaked and wind-battered in my elevated perch an hour later, I was regretting my decision when a movement in the brush caught my eye. Brown, white, antlers. Despite the fact it was my reason for being there, the deer still caught me by surprise. I managed to recover in time to make the shot and was at the check station just about the time the hunters who had opted to sleep in were arriving for breakfast.

Serious deer hunters are control freaks, constantly trying to manipulate variables in their favor. Unfortunately there are some things we have no control over, like the weather. When bad weather hits, you’re left with two choices. You can sit it out and wait for better conditions or you can borrow a page from the Green Beret manual and improvise, adapt, overcome.

Rain is a prime example. Few of us enjoy hunting in the rain, except maybe duck hunters. My experience has been that deer movement drops off dramatically during a heavy rain.

However, it doesn’t cease entirely, even under the worst conditions.

I recall one morning when it rained so hard it was like standing in the shower. “No deer will ever move in this,” I thought. That thought went away when I heard a nearby shot, and subsequently walked up on my hunting partner, smiling over his fallen buck.

One way to improvise for rainy conditions – beyond the obvious waterproof outerwear – is by enlisting the protection of an umbrella. They make camo versions for hunters that attach to trees. An even better option is an enclosed blind or shooting house. I used the latter on an Ohio hunt just days after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast. Dry and warm in my Banks blind, I was able to watch deer all day in relative comfort. Blinds also provided shelter from the wind and the cold.

You could also adapt your hunting style by changing from a stump-sitter to a still-hunter. Wet leaves deaden the sound of footsteps and the motion of wind-blown vegetation masks the hunter’s movement. You still have to go slowly, constantly scanning for the sight of deer, but their chances of seeing or hearing you first are greatly diminished in inclement weather. That’s probably why they don’t move as much, which is all the more reason why you should.

Wind seems to have a similar effect on deer, diminishing their movement and making them extra jumpy. Still-hunting is still an option, and there’s more the stationary hunter can do beyond simply adding an extra few layers. Deer seek out the shelter on windy days and so should you. Shift to a location on the downwind side of a hill or a thick stand of evergreens.

On the final day of deer season years ago, my son and I had intended to use a favorite stand but the wind was just too stiff so we high-tailed it over the hill to the lee side. We’d barely made it to a rock outcrop where we intended to sit when two deer trotted up to us, ending both our seasons successfully.

Hunting days are too dear to squander. Don’t let the things you can’t control take control of your hunt. Turn the tables, and use things like rain and wind to your advantage. Get out and hunt.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered Maine guide who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:

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