There is a reason that deer hunting has its own season. There is a good time and a bad time to go hunting for them. Like many animals, they have a mating season and they have an active time of the day. It is helpful to know when to hunt so you do not waste your time and energy searching for the quiet animal that does not want to be found.
When Is the Season?
The best time to hunt for deer in the US, especially in the middle states and the northern states is in early and mid-November. During this time, the rut is in session. This is the time when the deer breeding increases, so bucks are on the move. The bucks are on the hunt for their mates and they become easy targets. In most states, the rut occurs at the same time annually – thus the phrase “stuck in a rut.”
It is best to get out before the rut actually begins, because bucks will begin their active period about 10 days before the breeding season hits its peak. When the does hit estrus, the activity of the bucks decreases so they become more difficult to find and shoot. Your state’s Department of Natural Resources will have all of the information you need about ruts and the different stages of the ruts.
How the Moon Affects the Deer?
Another important consideration for successful deer hunting is the cycle of the moon. Research has shown that deer are affected by the phases of the moon and in certain phases, hunters have an edge over the deer. The animal does prefer to move in the dusk and dawn, but during the new moon phases, deer movement reaches a peak. When the full moon is out, deer movement increases during the day – even though movement during the day is still lower than at dusk and dawn. The later-day movement was busiest between and five and ten days before the full moon. So, once you get the rut calendar for your areas, it is helpful to know when the moon is new.
When and Where to Hunt?
The time of day that you hunt is also vital to success. Deer are active during the dusk and dawn periods of the day, making them crepuscular. Deer hunters who can get to their blinds early in the hunting season are more likely to snag a deer during those early waking hours.
Hunters who only have the option to hunt on public land are often overwhelmed with competition. The busiest times are on the weekends, so hunters who want less activity need to time their hunting during the early mornings on the weekdays. The middle of the week is often the least busy as many people choose to hunt on long three-day weekends. With all of the movement and noise of the hunters, deer stay clear of the public lands. But, once it quiets down and you can hunker down in your bunker, they will make regular appearances.
Early Season Considerations
Even though deer hunting usually takes place over the course of a few weeks, there are pros and cons to hunting in different times during those weeks. Those who hunt at the beginning of the season will have warm weather to contend with, which brings bugs, heat, and other issues. On warm days, it is best to get out as early as possible, when the weather is still cool. If you hunt during the day on a warm day, deer will hide in the shade – just like the hunters.
In the middle of the season, deer are in the rut and they are moving. But, so are the hunters. This is the busiest time of the season and deer move all day and through the night. Some states do not allow hunting during the rut, so check with your DNR before making any plans.
The late-season can also bring success. Hunters enjoy the fact that deer use this time to feed and the deer have to move to find food. In many locales, the woods are snow covered and so is the food that the deer enjoy. On the flip side, the late-season can also offer slim pickings, simply because the population has been thinned by the hunters who came out early.