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Joined: 06/03/2010

         In my early years I would sit by the window during a thunderstorm and watch the rain fall and feel sad because I couldn’t be outside enjoying my summer vacation. When lightning and thunder would rock the sky I would shiver but my Grandmother would soothe my fears by telling me the thunder was just God up in heaven bowling and there was no reason to worry. I was, of course, a God fearing little tyke so I accepted that as an explanation of the storm and its sound and lighting effects.
         As I spent more time at the farm with my wise old Grandmother each summer I realized that rain wasn’t always a bad thing. After all, my Grandmother had rain barrels at each corner of the roof to collect the “soft” rain water for washing clothes and hair. The barrels were covered with cheesecloth and bound tightly by an old nylon so the dirt and bug material that ran off the roof with the rain wouldn’t dirty the water. She also showed me how to water the garden plants with the barrel supply when the ground was dry because the rain water was better than using well water. It was a chore but she had done this kind of thing all her life and now I was learning the old ways. I know I didn’t appreciate it all that much back then but I realize now that she was teaching me more than just how to save and use rain water. We also “worked” in the gentle rains once in a while because there were still things to do, like berry picking, picking nightcrawlers for fishing and collecting fire wood for the old “pot belly” when we dried out.
        When I started hunting and fishing I would quietly curse the gloomy rain days that hindered my favorite pastime and it took me a few years to remember that rainy days could actually be quite productive if I learned how to make my way through the wet outdoors. I always carried a plastic poncho in my pocket when I went out in the woods or on the water. Fish are wet anyway so any rain short of an all out deluge is no big deal to them. Some of my best catches were on drizzly, dreary days when everyone else was at home staying dry. Animals don’t let rain change their habits much unless it is severely storming. During easy rains the birds still feed and the deer still graze and move on their daily routes. The wildlife of an area uses the wet time much as it uses the dry time with very little change. Animals do become a bit stealthier because the rain softens the noise level and enhances smells in the wind but they still move and feed.
         I have hunted grouse in the rain and they are often easier to stalk up and flush closer because the rain concealed the noise of my approach. Deer also are easier to stalk because they are curious by nature as well as cautious and will often stop to see what is quietly approaching them. A very surprised doe erupted from under my feet as I stepped over a log one time while bow hunting during a light rain. I was as surprised as she was but it illustrates how hunting is a little easier in the wet woods. I had one of the few coyote sightings in my hunting life during a walk on a wet logging road. The coyote was eating something on the trail and was completely oblivious to my approach. Upper Michigan coyotes normally spend the day in the deep cover of the forest and hunt at night as much as in the daytime so a hunter not using dogs to chase them rarely sees them and with the introduction of the wolves the coyote hunting is strictly limited anyway.
         During the Upper Michigan gun deer season it is popular to sit in a blind all day and watch for whitetail bucks on a good trail. I have spent many a rainy mid November day in a blind shivering from the chilly, rainy weather but still somewhat comfortable because the wetness was at least outside of the covered blind. The steady drone of rain hitting the roof of the blind is somehow calming and seems to ease the sense of impending action that often causes the dreaded “Buck Fever” that can catch even a veteran hunter off guard, although none would ever admit to experiencing that. Bucks in the rut find the rain carries scents a long way and they move freely in the rain often losing their caution. Rainy day hunting makes the evening spent warming in front of the campfire or in front of a hunting shack stove all the more worthwhile.
         Perhaps the worst part of late season rainy hunting weather is that it soon changes to ice and sleet as the month of November turns colder. Snow is often a companion in the gun deer season and when I was young it didn’t bother me but now, if I had my choice, I would opt for the warmer days even if it includes some rainy ones. With all of the seasons for hunting it is now possible to hunt deer and small game well before the cold November gun season to avoid the cold weather if a hunter so wishes; a hunter just has to adapt to alternate forms of hunting, such as bow hunting, which I did as I grew older and I haven’t missed the cold at all and I still stalked through the woods rain or shine.
         As I write this on a dark, late September day the rain is steadily falling but the birds are still feeding on the feeder and the squirrels are rounding up the last of the acorns from my oak trees as the deer check the apple tree for the last fruits of the season. It gives credence to my feeling that some rainy days are good days too.