Best Time of the Day to Deer Hunt

late-afternoon-deer-hunt

What is the best time of the day to deer hunt? That’s the million dollar question everyone wants to know. We will break it down here for you. There are many different factors to consider that could mean the difference in seeing more deer when and where you hunt.

Just ask the morning coffee drinkers what time they prefer to hunt. They will have a different choice than the non-coffee drinkers who like to sleep in on occasion.

That being said there is one common fact that almost all hunters will agree on and that is early morning and late afternoon is when the deer move the best. That doesn’t mean that other times of the day are not good, it’s just a known fact.

Table of Contents

Best Time of the Day to Deer Hunt Factors

Hunting Pressure

Hunting un-spooked deer is much easier than hunting heavily pressured deer. If there is heavy hunting pressure the big bucks will become nocturnal for the most part. A tactic that works very well is to be in the woods when the other hunters in the area leave the woods.  Which is normally mid-morning to mid day. They could possibly bump a buck your way.

hunter going to hunt deer stand

Available Food Sources

What type of food sources are available to the deer you are hunting is key. During late season the deer will need food to survive the harsh winter. During the rut not so much. Although food sources are key throughout the season. By knowing where the deer bed and where the food sources are you can pin point ideal stand locations according to the wind direction and the time of day the deer will be moving through those areas.

Moon Phases

The moon phase plays a role in deer movement. Especially when the moon is full, the deer movement will be greater during mid-day. Because the deer stay up all night feeding and then bed at daylight. Then mid-day, they get hungry or thirsty and get up for a snack or a drink to hold them over until getting up to feed in the afternoon. Also a week or so before a full moon, afternoon deer movement will be greatest.

Weather

Deer move well on very cold windy days.
dads windy day buck
This is my father's biggest buck. He harvested it on a very windy day.

Weather is a critical factor in deciding what time of day to hunt.

Deer tend to move best on cold days with high winds.

Rainy days see less movement than normal usually. If the rain stops you need to get in the woods and hunt.

Hot days deer will normally move more at sun up and sunset.

An increase or decrease in Barometric pressure will usually get the deer on their feet moving to their preferred feeding locations. A change in the weather really gets them moving. Even hunting on stormy days or during poor conditions can pay off as deer movement increases.

My favorite time to hunt is the morning after a cold front moves in when there is wet rainy stormy weather the night before. Especially in early November. It’s called sweet November for a reason. The rut and the cold weather can be the most wonderful time of the year.

Seasons: Early, Mid, Rut, Late

Early Season: The early season will be hotter and deer movement will likely be early morning and afternoon. As the rut approaches and the weather turns cooler deer movement will increase during daylight hours. 

Deer are easier to figure out during early season because they stick closer to food sources fattening up for winter. Also there is less pressure during this time because there are fewer bow hunters in the woods than when the gun hunters come out in full force. Once the gunshots start going off the deer quickly adapt to the hunting pressure. Then they will stay in thicker cover and travel more at night.

Mid-season: or the October lull can be the toughest. But that is only because you need to be able to change your hunting tactics as the deer patterns change also. Deer are very smart and the increased hunting pressure during this time of year causes them to change their patterns to survive.

Rut: The whitetail rut is every hunters dream. Bucks tend to do things they normally wouldn’t do and let their guard down during this time of year. During the rut, it is best to hunt as many hours of the day as possible. Your chances of seeing a big brute are tremendously better during this time of the year. You are more likely to see bucks moving all hours of the day during the rut.

Late Season: The toughest time of the year, unless you have a late season food source that has low hunting pressure, then you are in business.  If you have corn the deer need it or high carbs this time of year to survive the harsh winter conditions. Bucks have lost a lot of weight rutting hard and need food now.

early season buck in velvet
daylight buck
This buck is feeding before dark on a warm Kansas afternoon.
Late season hunting can be the toughest but very rewarding.

We only had night time trail camera pictures of this huge buck until early November and then he started showing up all hours of the day. You can read the full story here about this huge Kansas whitetail

Conclusion

Although there are many factors to consider when getting after those big boys to help you figure out the best time of the day to deer hunt. Food sources, weather, hunting pressure, and the moon phase as well as other variables can help you determine the best times to be in the woods deer hunting. And help increase your odds of getting a close encounter with the buck of your dreams.

Factors to Consider   
Weatherrain=less movement hunt early morning, mid-day- late afternoon. If rain stops hunt.hot = less movement all day, hunt early morning, mid day water source, late afternooncold= better movement all day. Hunt all day.
Time of YearEarly Season- Hunt early morning, afternoon.Rut best to hunt all day
Secondary rut- early morning good.
Late Season- early morning, mid day, afternoon
Pressurelow hunting pressure- best to hunt all daysome hunting pressure- early morning, mid-day, afternoon best.High hunting pressure- hunt early morning, mid-day, late evening best. Sometimes those hours when other hunters leave the woods is good.
Moon Phaseno moon- all daywaxing moon-
all day, early morning, late evening
full moon- mid day is better to hunt than normal also early morning good.
Food Source Availablecrops- hunt early morning, afternoon goodmast acorns, browse -all day when acorns are dropping.little food late season- early morning late afternoon, mid-day
best-time-of-the-day-to-deer-hunt

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