Deer During the Day


December 14, 2012, 08:17 AM
I have, almost exclusively up until a few weeks ago, hunted deer from a tree stand. Typically the stands I hunt look over the edge of a field that is planted in whatever the farmer plants that year. I have also been in some stands in the woods that look over little food plots and the like. I have hunted most different times of the day but found probably 85% of the deer I see come out late in the day, just before dark, and the rest come out first thing in the morning.

My question is, what are deer doing from, say, 2 hours after sunrise to about 2 hours before sunset? I know they are not wandering around the fields where I hunt at least. Are they bedding down or just meandering through the woods?

THe main reason I am asking is because I just recently started walking through the woods hunting deer. I have only been a couple times, and really like it. Each time I have been so far I have started right at sunrise and went for up to 4.5 hours. I have not bagged any yet, but have had a shot I passed on.

I guess I just want to know what do you think I would come across if I went during the middle of the day. My main reason for asking is because I am not going to have a chance to go out until probably early afternoon this weekend and was wondering if that would be a waste of time. I will probably try it no matter what, but just wanted to see what the consensus was.

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December 14, 2012, 09:00 AM
Finding bedding areas, and ambushing from above has proven effective for me.

Sav .250
December 14, 2012, 09:05 AM
Don`t cut your day short. If you have nothing else to do..stay out.
Deer season comes but once a year so keep after it. You can`t learn a thing back at the house. The more you go,the more you see. Hopefully.
Remember,it`s called hunting for a reason.........

December 14, 2012, 09:24 AM
You cant kill them from your couch...stay out there!

I have seen LOTS of deer...many big bucks the middle of the day. They will get up and move around every few hours. Sometimes it will be in the woods...sometimes theyll come to the fields...just stay put there and you will find them.

I killed a big ol mature 9 point one day as he tried to sneak across a choke point on a field at HIGH NOON! He was only going to be on that field for 20 seconds given his direction and speed...just stay out there and keep alert.

December 14, 2012, 09:29 AM
It depends on the time of year. During the rut, they're out looking to get some action. Shot my deer this year still hunting just before 1 PM. Pretty sure he was out looking for some tail cause there was no chance that he didn't hear us moving. Based on where we were though he possibly thought we were a doe at his scrape.

I know that back home (NW FL, S AL) during the day they're usually moving between areas or foraging well back off the beaten path.

ETA: My buddy growing up used to kill a goodly number of large deer by finding a busy trail back in the bottoms and climbing waaaaay up a tree 50-75 yards away and sitting and reading a book all day listening for movement.

December 14, 2012, 09:32 AM
They usually bed down in hollows during the day, hidden, and camoflaged by brush, trees, etc. Like someone else said if you can set up near where they bed down, remain still, and hidden you can bag one during broad daylight. You're right, being diurnal their movement patterns do cycle during the day, mainly around dawn and dusk. I know guys that only hunt during those times, but I think they are missing out on some good opportunities, especially if you do your scouting prior to deer season and know where they roam, what trails they use, and where they bed down.

December 14, 2012, 11:47 AM
Early in the season the deer follow the feed cycles (solunar) pretty much. Catching them heading back to a bedding area about 30-60 minutes after the feed time is the most productive method for me. When the cold fronts start to come through, they load up on groceries prior to the front. After it clears out is the worst day to hunt .. clear skies, crisp cold NW wind is when they generally lay up for a day or so and only feed very close to the bedding area. During the rut all bets are off. Bucks are traveling looking for hot does and can be anywhere, anytime.

December 14, 2012, 01:24 PM
Some of the bigger deer are killed mid-day. My largest was taken at 1PM. Killed my bear at 4PM, 2 hours before sundown.

After a while the smarter, older deer start to pattern hunters and learn to move when fewer hunters are in the woods. Which means mid-day.

I too see more deer early and late, but see more big ones in between.

I hunt a lot of public land. Much of the time a 2+ hour drive. I used to get up at 3 AM and try to be in the woods at sunup and hunt till about 10-11 AM Since I also had to drive back home I rarely hunted after lunch so I was spending more time driving than hunting.

I started sleeping later, and getting in the woods at 9-10 AM and hunting till 4 PM or so. Got more time in hunting and a lot more sleep.

December 14, 2012, 02:57 PM
As I am disabled, I hate to get going in the morning. Still up &out by 8am. I have found that the deer are out all day! If you are already out why go back in? Even in storms! I have. done some of my best hunting during storms. The noise of the storm let's you walk &stalk. It beats watching someone else bring in that big buck!

Texan Scott
December 14, 2012, 04:04 PM
Yup... they like to sleep through the middle of the day.... but old bucks still gotta get outta bed every couple hours to go pee. Most y'all should already know this. :p

December 14, 2012, 04:20 PM
Well, during a typical day in the Sonoran desert, the (Coues) whitetails are bedded down on the sunny side of a ridgeline, under a scrub oak or mountain laurel or something shady, where they can see for a long way.

Makes still hunting and sneaking up on a decent buck quite a challenge!

December 14, 2012, 04:40 PM
I have shot a lot of deer at 11:00 am and 3PM. shot two bucks at 3:00 pm this season.
They will eat all night til about 9:30 or so but you will catch them moving 10-11:00 am. the trick is to find their travel corridors. My buddy found a pinch point and the action didnt even turn on til 9:00 am, it was a natural funnel between crops and bedding area. I do know that the guys that are able to stay on stand all day are the ones that get the best deer. deer bed down on the edge of the cut crop fields and open areas and watch everything durring daylight. They see you coming and going, sometimes you can make them forget you climbed into your tree stand 90 minutes before dark but the guys that have been there all day will always have the edge.

Cocked & Locked
December 14, 2012, 10:48 PM
Yup... they like to sleep through the middle of the day.... but old bucks still gotta get outta bed every couple hours to go pee. Most y'all should already know this. :p

Good Point! :scrutiny:

December 15, 2012, 11:04 AM
Deer have become nocturnal basically from hunting pressure. Humans are their dominate predator and the only one that cannot see in the dark. That is why in areas where they are hunted, they are most active during darkness and low light periods. That does not mean they are completely inactive during daylight hours. In areas where there is little hunting or no hunting pressure, deer can be just as active during the day as during darkness. Even in areas of heavy pressure they will get up and move in the middle of the day, to relieve themselves, reposition themselves because of changes in wind direction/weather or to get closer to their evening feeding location. But they do not move as fast or as far. It may only be a matter of a few yards or less. Other factors such as the rut will make even the wariest deer move at anytime of the day.....buck or doe. This is why the rut is considered the best time to be in the woods. Other factors such as extreme weather either in the near future or just past, will also drive deer out to feed during the middle of the day. Sometimes a full moon all night will have deer moving in the middle of the day. As will fog or a heavy rain/snowfall....think low light. These are the times when sitting in stand may produce anytime during the day. Other than that, you best chance to kill a deer in the middle of the day, by yourself, is to still hunt. Deer that are bedded down are harder to spot and stalk, but are easier to get close to without being detected. Deer that are already up outta their beds can easily walk around you without you ever knowing they are there. Deer bedded will many times continue to stay bedded even after detecting you, knowing that most hunters will quickly walk by if they remain still. The secret is to go slow, know the area, either by previous knowledge or easily available terrain maps and be ready. If all you are seeing is tails, you are moving too fast. If you are sweating, you are moving too fast. If you are seeing fresh sign and nuttin are moving too fast.

December 15, 2012, 11:18 AM
What they're doing during the day is a delicate subject.:D

Art Eatman
December 15, 2012, 12:34 PM
The daytime bed-down is why I've had so much fun in walking-hunting (fairly open country, not thick forest). I walk in areas which are likely bedding areas. Kick bucky out of bed and if he's worth shooting, take him. :)

Gotta work the wind and understand the country and bucky's general behavior, of course.

December 15, 2012, 12:53 PM
All of the deer I have shot, I have shot around mid day. 11:00-2:00.

All of them were on the move. None of them were being run by dogs...although 1 of them might have been disturbed by some off in the distance.

My dad says most of the deer he has shot have been around lunch time.

Even when I am out hunting something other than deer, I see them moving during the day.

I think you will more likely see them come out into the fields during dusk and early morning, but I have seen plenty of deer moving through fields in the middle of the day as well.

December 15, 2012, 01:00 PM
The last two that I got were past 3pm and before 9am.
However most taken by my friends have been taken between 11am and 3pm.
So it's unpredictable in my opinion. But stalking has always been more productive than stand hunting where I hunt.

December 15, 2012, 02:02 PM
But stalking has always been more productive than stand hunting where I hunt.

Something I want to try more often...but our woods are not only crowded, but they are full of dogs. I've tried it some on week days though. No success, but I do like to explore the woods. You can find some interesting stuff back there.

December 15, 2012, 02:28 PM
If you have a chance to take a look at the solunar tables you will see that the hours of peak activity vary. There is routine but it changes a bit from day to day.

The deer I took this year was feeding in a cottonwood stand at 3:30 along with several other deer.

December 15, 2012, 11:53 PM
I shot this one at 2:30 last Tuesday. It had rained that morning. It was still overcast and misting rain when I shot it.

Cocked & Locked
December 16, 2012, 12:13 AM

December 16, 2012, 08:53 AM
My biggest and for that fact several of the mature bucks I've killed over the years have between the hours of 10:AM and 2: PM.

December 16, 2012, 02:46 PM
I agree with Sav .250.
Stay out all day and by all means bring a lunch with you.
Last week while out hunting I took a drive around the 4,000 acre ranch I hunt and around 1:30 p.m. I saw all manner of deer up and feeding.

Win73,great signature line.
I had just about forgot about old Luke's sage advice.

December 16, 2012, 03:38 PM
Most of the deer I've killed have been between 9am and 11am while still hunting (walking).

December 17, 2012, 12:18 AM
North central Minnesota, hunting thick woods and swamp.
About 80% of my deer kills are between 11 and 3 .

It's good to sleep in when it's zero deg at 6 am.

By staying out in the daytime I can stay still longer without freezing.

December 17, 2012, 09:44 AM
North central Minnesota, hunting thick woods and swamp.
About 80% of my deer kills are between 11 and 3 .

It's good to sleep in when it's zero deg at 6 am.

By staying out in the daytime I can stay still longer without freezing.

A benefit of hunting here in Alabama besides our 3 1/2 month long deer season is that it almost never gets down to zero. In fact it is not too unusual to go a whole winter without getting below 20. During our bow season which opens in mid October, I often hunt in just my shirt sleeves. Just this season I was sweating while bow hunting from my ladder stand.

Right now the temp is 57 degrees. It is supposed to get into the 60's here today. Just a couple of days ago it was in the 70's.

December 17, 2012, 10:50 AM
By staying out in the daytime I can stay still longer without freezing.

Try 250gram+ arctic overalls, battery operated heating socks/gloves/vest and have a heavy breakfast/lunch before heading out. Last weekend we got 10F, steady 20-25mph wind, some snow and 29 whitetails during one and a half days. :)

Duane M
December 17, 2012, 02:34 PM
I never never shot a deer after 9:00 am or before 3:00 pm. Probably because I leave at 9 and go back out at 3. But, I do know you can have success if you stay out. Too long a day for me and I get my deer every year anyway. If I could only get out in the middle of the day I would go. Good hunting!

December 18, 2012, 09:31 PM
Deer do get up and feed during the day, and some bucks are on patrol. Some are bedded on hard to approach hillsides. Generally near or in cover. I love sneaking around the woods myself. Move slow and don't make noise especially squeak or rattle noises from equipment. Although some guys claim deer ignore you if you are loud and are running a chain saw. Not my style.

T Bran
December 18, 2012, 10:03 PM
My biggest bucks have all been killed after 9:00 in the morning. It takes more time to hit all of the scrapes in the circuit that they seem to make daily. I suppose that is part of the reason the are a bit behind schedule.

Occasionally I have deer ease up to the camp when I'm running the weed wacker. New noises seem to make them curious at times. The daughter of one of my neighbors has shot a deer each year for a while now while sitting in a stand jamming on her Ipod at live levels. I dont know for sure what curiosity did to the cat but it has been the end of a few deer.


Duane M
December 19, 2012, 03:25 PM
T Bran that's funny. I reminds me of duck hunting. When the ducks wouldn't decoy the old man I hunted with would put on the radio and turn up the volume. Ha, we shot many a duck decoying to Country Western music.

December 19, 2012, 03:34 PM
Deer don't always keep the same pattern. Sometimes pressure will push them to become nocturnal. They might sleep, if it's cold, they might need to eat during the day, maybe there isn't much pressure. Around here, we've had such a bumper crop of acorns that we don't see them in the food plots much (also, we didn't get much rain at the right time so they aren't that great anyways).

There are many factors to consider.

December 21, 2012, 03:07 PM
Mencius, if you really want to understand deer habits the best video I have ever seen is by Roger Raglin and the name is Bowhunting Nightclub Zones. Look it up on a google search if you are interested. Best money you will ever spend.

December 21, 2012, 03:37 PM
Ok, I will have to take a look and see if I can track that video down.

Thanks for the tip.

December 21, 2012, 09:25 PM
i have hunted deer for over 25 yrs and have prob shot a deer during every hour of the day between daylight and dark.includeing large buks.if the rut is on, all bets are off. that big buk will be running every doe trail he can find.or that little stupid yearling doe he is with will draw him out in the open cuz he just cant stand to leave her.

the biggest deer ive ever seen was with a little yearling doe during the MO youth season.i was sitting on one ridge and my son was on the next.the buk walked up and looked at me rite in the eye from 60 was about 3 in the afternoon.they messed around in front of me for 45 min or so.he would not leave that doe. then he crossed the fence where my son could see him.booom dead buk!

another poster said you wont get one off the couch. well i have, but thats very good advice.if you cant hunt till noon or whenever get out there and just hunt.the more hours in the woods will equal more deer.

December 24, 2012, 11:46 AM
y'all are right about the more time in the woods = more deer. Perhaps not more deer per hour hunting, but more deer altogether. I was actually on the way to my mom's house today to get something we had stored for the kids and had to stop by a couple fields I hunt and ease across them just in case. DIdn't see anything, but did run up a herd of about 10 in the truck on the way there. End of the season is getting close...

Pistol Ranch
December 24, 2012, 12:52 PM
Biggest buck I ever shot was by tricking a back into thinking I had left my blind..Buddy drove up, open and slammed truck door and drove away. 20 minutes later, Mr. Big was on the ground..Time was about 9:30 A.M.

December 25, 2012, 05:20 AM
I typically get three days to hunt deer every year, and I've harvested a buck every year aside from one, that I recall. I've shot more deer between 9 AM and 5PM than I have earlier or later. I do NOT stand hunt however, and go to the deer rather than let them come to me in the vast majority of cases

December 25, 2012, 11:04 AM
A big mistake is thinking all deer do the same thing all the time. Does act much differently from most bucks most of the year. Big, smart bucks typically move very little in the open in daylight. They typically like to stay in heavy cover during daylight.

The rut is the exception. That's when they'll move all day, and take the easiest, fastest path such as open lanes and logging trails any time of the day or night. If you can find a scrape line within the woods, set up over that with the wind in your favor and stay put. Does will bed within maybe 30 yards of a scrape waiting on a buck

I'd strongly suggest against walking the woods (bedding areas) any more than absolutely necessary. In most areas of the midwest, it's difficult to stalk deer. They see/smell you long before you see them. You'll see the white flash of a deer that's now looking for a new home.

I hunt private land that has lots of deer. Well, until we stomp thru the bedding areas. Bucks particularly need to feel secure. If you disrupt their bedding, you'll drive them off to someplace they do feel secure.

We've made a point of not walking the bedding areas. We see deer every day. I've passed probably twenty shots this year just hunting around the edges. Also, try not to use the same stand multiple times. They'll know where you are and change travel pattern to avoid it.

You'll see does in the middle of the day if their feeding area is secluded.

December 26, 2012, 08:08 AM
Damnit, I have walked right through at least 3 bedding areas the couple times I have been walking the woods. I will have to try to stay out of them. I did find one that looked like it would be a good spot to ambush as it was down in a bottom and I figured I could sit on top of the rise near there and keep a pretty good eye on things. We'll have to see if they come back to there or not. Think it would make sense to put out a corn pile near the bedding area?

December 26, 2012, 09:06 AM
Some states it's legal, some states (like here) it's illegal. Here, if the CO finds a bait pile, they stake it out and you will get a ticket.

You don't have to make the deer come to you. Just find their bedding areas (sounds you already did) and their feeding areas. Find the travel paths between and set up. Now, bedding areas will vary (for does) depending on the weather. If it's warm, they tend to use fence rows and edges. If it's cold and windy, they tend to use heavy woods/weeds to block the wind. Bucks almost always use the thickest, most tangled stuff in the area for bedding. The exception is the rut, when they stay with the does.

If it's cold weather, they tend to move later into the morning and earlier in the evening. They need more energy to keep warm.

It's actually a lot easier to get a good shot in their natural feeding area. Once they are there, they tend to be less cautious. Keeps their head down and attention diverted. I've had multiple deer feed for maybe an hour less than 50 yards from me. I find it's best to set up on feeding areas in the afternoon. You'll catch them coming out just before dark. In the mornings, they're already there eating over night and you chase them off setting up.

If you are in an area that has snow, keep track of their trails for future reference. They tend to use the same trails year after year. I've hunted our farm for about forty years. They've use the same crossings all that time. Last year I had a friend hunt with me for the first time. Opening morning, he'd never even seen our farm. I told him exactly where to go. Ten minutes after daylight he shot a buck that scored 183

December 27, 2012, 07:05 PM
Damnit, I have walked right through at least 3 bedding areas the couple times I have been walking the woods. I will have to try to stay out of them. I did find one that looked like it would be a good spot to ambush as it was down in a bottom and I figured I could sit on top of the rise near there and keep a pretty good eye on things. We'll have to see if they come back to there or not.

How the 'ell you gonna catch deer bedded down if you don't go to where they bed? How do the 'ell do you know an area is a bedding area till you kick 'em out? Sorry, but it's a catch 22. If you hunt a small parcel with limited cover, walking(still hunting) is not a high percentage way to hunt. These are the areas one should just sit their azz down and wait. But, if you have access to a larger parcel with multiple areas of cover(such as a large tract of public land) still hunting can be very successful, once you learn how to do it correctly. Seeing that flash of a deer looking for a new home means you haven't figured it out yet. It ain't about stompin' around. It's about sneakin' and being inconspicuous. If you're gonna stomp thru their bedding areas, better partner up with someone and make pushes to each other. The idea is to sneak up close enough for a shot before they bust cover and are gone. This can be done by being so stealthy they never know you are there till it's to late or by letting them think you are gonna walk by them and they hang tight and let you get close enough for a shot. Many times in both of these scenarios, it will be a quick running shot. Most of mine are when doing this, but most times it is within 30 yards...pretty much a gimmee. Sometimes you catch them bedded and can take them while lying down, but for me it's not the norm. Either way it's easier to get close when they are bedded as opposed to when they are up and moving. Jumping deer outta bedding area tells you two things,where they bed and where they go when flushed. This is knowledge you retain for another day. Kicking deer outta bedding areas can be frustrating, but it can be a great way to scout new territory. Walking the woods after a hunting season shows you where deer go when pressured. These will be the same places they use next year....especially the bucks that made it thru this season using those areas. Once you know where deer head when they are flushed, many times you can cut them off or come in from another direction and catch them watching their backtrail. Many times when I still hunt, I actually kick deer out ahead of me in areas I know I can't get close and then head for a funnel and wait for them to circle back. Many times when they have used the same escape route before, they are more concerned with what's behind them and feel safe about what's ahead of them. You'll see them milling around taking their time, constantly looking back from whence they came. Take your time not only to be stealthy, but to study what's ahead of you and try to figure where deer kicked up in front of you will want to go. Many times by searching these areas ahead of your stalk, you'll actually see deer slowly sneaking ahead of you or if they bust in a hurry you already know where to look for an opening. Don't forget to look behind you as you stalk, many times deer will let you walk by only get up after you pass and try to sneak away behind you. This happens more than you think. I have shot several bucks by shadowing other folks that are "stompin'" thru the woods. They never did see the deer get up and take off after they have walked by....but I did. Nuttin' more satisfying than takin' a deer that did exactly what you thought it might.

December 27, 2012, 07:35 PM
deer season ended a few weeks ago,,,and of coarse they were elusive and the good Bucks were pretty much nocturnal,, but you could find deer most any time of the day, one place or another,,, now at temperatures as low as minus-44 and over 7 feet of snow accumulated,they are NOT so elusive,,, I feed several dozen of them all winter, and several moose also

so as close as 6 feet from my back door, I start my pic-up to warm up before leaving to work, they come like a herd of domestic pigs, to the hay bales and the oats put out in a feeder, my time of the year "to give back",,,,,,,,

and a Happy and Safe New Year to ALL !

January 20, 2013, 03:52 PM
The time to know where deer bed and travel is not in the middle of the season. Scouting, trail cams and a watchful eye married with google earth and topo info is what you need. Once you kick mature deer out of the primary beds, they change patterns. The big ones normally go full nocturnal.

I harvested 80 deer on property I leased for ten years. The chump next door got jealous and out bid me on the lease. He quit hunting the property in year three because he wasn't getting any deer. The difference? I never disturbed bedding grounds till late season.

January 20, 2013, 10:05 PM
The two biggest bucks I have taken in 20+ years of hunting were at 11:30am and 3:00pm. I see more deer early and late but I see the bigger ones mid-day.

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