Duck Hunting in the Rain: Pros and Cons

Video do ducks fly in rain

Duck hunting in the rain can be a resounding success or a miserable failure. Knowing when to duck hunt when it’s raining or wait for better conditions is something that only experience can help you determine.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of duck hunting in the pouring rain in order to help you make the best decision planning your next hunt.

When to Hunt Ducks in the Rain

Should you hunt ducks in the rain? OF COURSE! Duck hunting in the rain can be some of the best decoying action you’ll ever experience. It can also be the worst if the birds don’t move. So what are the ideal conditions for hunting ducks while it’s raining?

The ideal conditions are a light rain with little wind. I’ve killed the most ducks in this situation compared to anything else. The key to killing ducks in the rain is monitoring the rainfall rate that’s expected to fall.

Heavy rains are the worst conditions to hunt ducks in. The only thing on a ducks mind during heavy rain is to get out of the air and find refuge somewhere. If you’re expecting pouring rain all morning, it’s best to hunt on another day.

Light rain doesn’t seem to affect dabbling ducks as much and they will fly throughout the morning. Variable rain rates over the course of a morning can often shut down the flight for a half hour or more at times during the heaviest amounts, but when the rain tapers off, the ducks use the window to fly all at once.

Both of these conditions are better to hunt ducks in than sustained heavy downpours or thunderstorms with lightning. If it’s just a light rain or mist forecasted, don’t cancel your hunt, the ducks won’t mind!

SITKA Gear Delta Wading Jacket- Great for Hunting in the Rain

Why Should You Hunt Ducks in the Rain?

Duck hunting in the rain can be really good depending on how heavy it’s falling and how sustained it is. These are the top reasons why you should hunt ducks in the rain.

  • Everyone else stayed home. Less than ideal conditions, like a rainy morning, mean that fewer hunters will be in the field, less pressure on the birds, and potentially better hunting and decoy action.
  • A light rain is nothing to worry about. Light rain is part of hunting and being prepared for rain is first and foremost. Wear a good set of waders and rain jacket to be comfortable during passing rain showers.
  • It’s opening day and you can miss hunting the first week ducks.
  • Rain can help you hide better. Rain can make visibility worse and harder for ducks to spot your blind.
  • Ducks will be seeking refuge. Ducks would rather not fly in rain if they don’t have to, so they will be looking for a place to land with greater urgency.
  • You’re a waterfowler, you’re supposed to hunt in the rain. Imagine what your friends would say if you told them you didn’t hunt because of a little rain.
  • After you’ve hunted in the rain for a while, it’s really no big deal.
  • Duck hunting in the rain is another factor to add to your bag of tricks and increase your versatility.
  • Sometimes when it’s raining is the only chance you have to go hunting.
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Here is a great clip of what you can expect while hunting ducks in the rain

Factors to consider before you start duck hunting in the rain

  • Rainfall rates and intensity are important to monitor. Heavy rain will restrict duck movement drastically.
  • Thunder and lightning. Thunderstorms aren’t safe to hunt in, so avoid it. Wait for it to pass. The ducks won’t be flying anyways.
  • Lulls in bands of rain can help pinpoint when birds will move. Action can be fast and furious when the rain lets up.
  • Good rain gear is must. Hunting in the rain, especially if it’s cold, can be downright miserable without the proper rain gear.
  • Temper your expectations. Forecasted rain isn’t absolutely ideal, so expect the duck hunting to be slightly less productive.
  • Take a spare change of clothes and keep them in the truck. You may need to change out of wet clothing.
  • Weather and radar apps on your phone can help you monitor changing weather conditions.
  • Set your blind placement so that the wind and rain is at your back.
  • Click here to see more tips on hunting in extreme weather.

What type of weather conditions are the best for duck hunting?

Let’s face it, duck hunting in the rain is not an ideal situation. Below are some of the best weather conditions to hunt ducks in and situations that usually pay off the most.

Best Types of Weather for Duck Hunting

  • Sunny with no clouds – This is my favorite weather condition to hunts ducks in. Timber hunting in sunny weather with no clouds and light north wind almost always results in a great hunt.
  • Duck Hunting in Fog – Hunting ducks in the fog can be slow at times, but in the right location can be fast and furious. Ducks usually show up at moment’s notice before they cup up into the decoys. Fog gives ducks less time to find where you’re hiding.
  • Cold, North Wind – Hunting ducks on cold and windy mornings is what duck hunting is all about. It also indicates a cold front may have recently arrived depositing new birds that are more likely to do it right.
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The best weather to hunt ducks in is sunny with little could cover. Ducks seem to decoy better in these conditions rather than overcast days. Sunny days in the timber are some of the best for mallard hunting.

Duck hunting in fog can be frustrating if you’re not in the right place. Ducks aren’t going to fly far and it can be difficult to see them even when they do. However, fog in the right location means decoying ducks in your face and a quick action packed hunt.

Cold north wind is usually an indicator that a front recently pushed through and deposited new birds in an area. New birds are less likely to have developed a routine and are more likely to decoy. The first day after a long migration with a cold north wind can yield phenomenal duck hunting.

Do Ducks Need Shelter from the Rain?

Ducks do not need shelter from the rain, but they will still seek it out. Ducks can withstand some pretty harsh conditions, and rain is not a big factor for them.

Ducks are affected most by rain during flight. Water can build upon their feathers and wings making it difficult to fly. Rain can also strike their eyes making vision less than ideal.

It’s fairly common to see ducks in field and lakes withstand rainstorms without any shelter. A ducks feathers naturally repel water, so rain is more of a nuisance than anything else.

Like most animals though, ducks still prefer shelter if given the opportunity. In cold, windy, and rainy conditions, expect to find ducks using wind blocks like trees, stumps, levees, and other natural wind breaks as shelter.

Duck Hunting in Thunderstorms

Hunting in thunderstorms can be dangerous due to lightning. It’s always best to let thunderstorms pass before you head out to hunt. Ducks rarely fly during intense thunderstorms and you won’t be missing much.

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Squall lines that accompany cold fronts usually pass quickly and similar to the lull in rain showers on rainy days, the hunting can be phenomenal after a front passes and the rain subsides.

If a front is passing through early morning, it may make sense to let the thunderstorms and worst of it to pass, then head out later in the morning for any new birds arriving. Ducks will fly in a thunderstorm, but they are typically trying to outrun it or seek the nearest cover.

Is it worth duck hunting in the rain?

Rainy days can be just as good as sunny days given there a plenty of ducks in the area you hunt. The problem with rain is that it severely limits the amount of activity of ducks trading back and forth. If you have a place that ducks roost nearby and feed as well, then rain will not likely affect their daily activities.

If you are relying on ducks to fly several miles from the roost to feed and then drop into a small area, then rain can damper what would otherwise be a normal pattern. Rain and fog both have the same effect on limiting bird movement until it passes or eases up temporarily.

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering if you should hunt ducks in the rain, the answer is YES! Duck hunting in the rain can be phenomenal if you take into consideration some key aspects. The first is that light rain and lulls are the best times to decoy birds on bad weather days.

Ducks seek shelter in heavy rain and thunderstorms. These conditions will severely reduce their activity. This means you’ll likely be sitting in a duck blind getting rained on with no birds flying.

The ideal setup for hunting in the rain are days of light rain where you are close to the birds. Reducing the distance they have to fly from the roost to your decoys dramatically increases your chances you’ll still see lots of bird movement. Lulls in heavy rains can be good as ducks seek food and shelter in-between squalls.

Interested in new rain gear for your next duck hunt? Check it out here.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>