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bowhunternw

Nocturnal Deer

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What do you guys think about areas that are full of deer but seem to move only after dark. Do you keep hunting them hoping that one day they will finally move or are they a lost cause. I ask because I am hunting a couple of spots that are super heavy on sign and spent alot of time this past weekend hoping but nothing showed. They are definitely moving at night because the next day it seemed the deer traveled right down the trails I cut in the snow.

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The colder the weather the more they move during shooting hours. My last too big buck have came in the first few days of december one at 4:00 and one at 3:30 both after winter storm.

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To me it just boils down to how much time I have to hunt vs. anything else going on in life. You have to be in the woods to shoot a deer.

Sunday I went out thinking I wouldn't see much until just before dark. I got to the tree I wanted to sit in at 3:30 and two deer were already there browsing about. At 4:55 the rest showed up.

No deer were harmed in the making of this memory.

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true. if you've got the time, hunt! this time of year deer need to feed.

deer burn a lot of calories staying warm. you'll see daylight movement if u hunt near food sources or a bedding area. smile

good luck

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The nocturnal behavior is very frustrating.

My corn and bean plots are littered with deer sign from the snow last Wednesday to the time I hunted Saturday morning with muzzy. We didnt see a deer for the weekend.

Sunday I took a walk around after the morning hunt and I kept asking myself how there can seem to be so many deer around and not one of them made a mistake of wandering around a little to late in the am or a little too early in the pm.

I had 2 cams on some classic locations for good trails. From Nov 6 to Nov 27 I had over 120 pics on those cams and 2 pics during legal light.

Since we started muzzy hunting, we have hunted every weekend at the farm. We started hunting with the muzzleloaders 6 or 7 years ago. Last year was the first deer we harvested with a muzzleloader. And not due to us passing on any deer. With muzzy we use that for tagging does primarily(and of course mature bucks). At least thats the plan. Rifle season, adults dont take any does. We reserve them for the juniors during that season.

Anyway, its maddening how we can seemingly have a decent number of deer around each year during late season and we just dont see them.

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hockeybc69 seems to be very similar to the sitiuation I am seeing, it is a large standing cornfield with timber, brush and crp around it. You can see very clearly that the deer are bedding in the cover around and traveling to the corn to eat. It is hard to pass up with it being just covered with deer but I will have to try some other spots. I wonder what makes a certain area more nocturnal, just from being pressured or what. Maybe they have such an easy food source that they can just wait till dark and make the move.

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Deer are not dumb, they just got done being chased and shot at for 2-3 weeks by the gun hunters, most deer that moved during daylight either are dead or are too small (fawns). Give the deer a little time to 'relax', they'll start coming out earlier, and stay later. If you have a cornfield to hunt, that food magnet will draw them in. Maybe hunt somewhere else for a couple of weeks then go back. Place your stands between the bedding and feeding areas, and not too close to either. If you're 'bumping' deer out of the corn field in the morning or out of their bedding area in the evening, their learning curve just went up.

I was out bowhunting a couple of times last weekend and any deer I saw were out moving were during that last 1/2 hour after sunset or that 1/2 hour before sunrise, make sure you get to your stand early if you're hunting in the morning!!

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I can definitely relate to this thread. My food plots showed lots of sign after we got snow but I'm not seeing any during daylight. So I set up my trail cam on the main trail the deer were using to get there. Monday night, during the snowstorm, 1 fawn came out just as it was getting really dark, then about 1/2 hour later 5 more fawns piled in, then another 1/2 hour later the mature does came. About an hour after they came in, they started coming back out on the same trail. I have a spot in between where they bed and where they come into the field, so I'm going to try that tonight since it's really cold.

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I read an interesting article about food plots and deer once. The main idea of the article was that with good food plots around the deer need less time to eat their fill so they have more time to just lay around. If there are no food plots around it takes the deer longer to wander around and brouse so they are more "active".

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Deer are not dumb, they just got done being chased and shot at for 2-3 weeks by the gun hunters, most deer that moved during daylight either are dead or are too small (fawns). Give the deer a little time to 'relax', they'll start coming out earlier, and stay later. If you have a cornfield to hunt, that food magnet will draw them in. Maybe hunt somewhere else for a couple of weeks then go back. Place your stands between the bedding and feeding areas, and not too close to either. If you're 'bumping' deer out of the corn field in the morning or out of their bedding area in the evening, their learning curve just went up.

This is what I have experienced too, after all that pressure a lot of the deer just nocturnal for a while. I think even a little Muzzy or Bow pressure helps keep them either nocturnal or move very little during shooting hours. Scouting is key this time of year because you have to be on the hot sign but even then the hunting can still be tough.

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A little hunting pressure does indeed make a big difference in deer behavior.

I allow some guys to hunt the first two weeks of bow season on my ground in 347; then it is off-limits to everyone until I am done hunting. (More on why I have that rule in just a moment.)

My shotgun season this year lasted half an hour past legal shooting time; beginning at about 7:00 AM (Daylight Savings Time) when it started to get light out I had at least three, almost certainly four, and probably more deer coming out of my timber in to the just-combined cornfield I was hunting over. One spike buck was chasing several does around the field until just before sunrise, when they all headed back in the woods. Ten minutes or so later, the spike chased a nice doe out of the trees right to me. Since I was done hunting, I let the same guys who bowhunt my ground begin hunting on stand there.

That evening, they had one guy on stand who shot a nice nine-pointer, and saw several does. Happy with those results, they had four people on stand in various spots on my ground the next morning and evening, including two who were more or less upwind of the timber and field they were hunting. confused They kept multiple people on stand there at least through Tuesday of shotgun season, and had not shot any more deer as of then.

I talked to a couple of that party this weekend; they stopped seeing any deer on my ground by mid-week of first season, and never shot any more there. They seemed puzzled as to why the deer disappeared.

The answer, of course, is hunting pressure. The deer in my timber either went nocturnal, or moved somwhere else to get away from the hunters. Having multiple people set up upwind of the deer's bedding areas did not help. crazy

I imposed the "no one hunts shotgun on my land until I am done rule" two years ago, after my second season hunt was ruined by this same group, who had carpet-bombed the deer in my timber first season. Not their fault, as I told them they could hunt first season, not realizing how hard they would pressure the deer. Since I switched to hunting first season and got to see how they hunt, I understand even better why my ground was a barren wasteland so far as deer hunting was concerned two years ago.

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I read an interesting article about food plots and deer once. The main idea of the article was that with good food plots around the deer need less time to eat their fill so they have more time to just lay around. If there are no food plots around it takes the deer longer to wander around and brouse so they are more "active".

I'd believe it, and I think the same is true for bait piles. If I didn't have farmers nearby that leave their corn stand all winter I know I would put my money and effort somewhere else. But if you can't beat them, join them.

Also with the pressure the deer get from archers starting in mid-September it really isn't a surprise to me that the deer are just accustomed to being nocturnal.

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I'm in the same boat guys, plenty of deer on 4 different chunks of land and all 4 chunks the deer are completely nocturnal,these are in 3 different counties I left 1 chunk alone for 19 days, made 0 difference. The 1 bow hunted chunk was toast by mid-october, even the rut makes 0 difference there, the deer leave that property 90% of them, the 10% are nocturnal, the field in front of that chunk gets goose hunted or pheasant, deer go on the night pattern. Chunk 2 has multiple field stands on all four sides, my stand is in the cover, since then deer sightings are almost non-existant as the deer get jumped if any are there an hour before shooting light almost daily, Chunk 3 is rarely hunted but they are nocturnal there before November, I leave the bedding area alone, but they still stay nocturnal, Chunk 4 the deer seem to wait for the hunters to enter the swamp, then they retreat to thick bedding cover, stomach is full for the day. Bottom line is pressure is the biggest factor and with nearly every land being hunted, there you go, the 1 unhunted 60 acres across the road from my dad's seems to be holding about 40-50 head, that's where most of em are, scattered does and fawns on some properties in the area but no doubt the bucks end up back to this 60 acres by shooting light to save energy, stay alive and to do the night wandering again , it's their routine now. The unpressured lands in my area is where they are at and even then they likely aren't moving until shooting light is gone and us are gone lol.

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To the original question there isn't much you can do, might as well keep hunting your spots and hope for the best, still hunting for me is no longer an option as sneaking into where they are forget it, they'd hear me coming a mile away in that rats nest, they walk through 2-3 feet of water and bed down on small, above water root clumps made by 20 foot tall tamaracks, there's willow and cattail and grass also how you sneaking in that, now it's froze, but it's still too thick so you wait em out but they don't start coming out until after light, how'd we ever hunt an evening stand in years past when legal light ended at sundown, no extra half hour, and now the snow to doesn't help me at all, makes them come out even later then if there wasn't any, the only 2 bucks I've ever taken muzzleloading 1 was scared by a car crossing the road and the other I caught him coming back from a combined cornfield in the first light, only 2 deer seen those years muzzy hunting, so saw 3 bucks in about 10 years of muzzy hunting, and very few other deer.

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For me, I just keep plugging away.

I have this stigma about hunting on our own land that I spend so much time on making a better place.

I agree with the fact that there is an option to hunt elsewhere, but dang that doesnt sound so great when I have my own piece of heaven.

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I read an interesting article about food plots and deer once. The main idea of the article was that with good food plots around the deer need less time to eat their fill so they have more time to just lay around. If there are no food plots around it takes the deer longer to wander around and brouse so they are more "active".

This makes sense!

My experience is that it doesn't pay to hunt mornings in December, just evenings. Food is the key. Find the food source that they are using on a regular basis and then try to set up as close to the bedding area as you can without spooking them. The best spots are areas where the deer have to travel a ways to get to the food source. The colder the better and the later in December the better. Its better to hunt after a storm than before.

Nels

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I hear that hockey, what's tough is how good deer hunting used to be, not talking getting, just seeing and seeing how poor it is today is tough on the system, the 80's were unreal, 2 day season and seeing 20-50 deer a season, the 90's multi-zone buck tags, still plenty to pick over and plenty to get fired up for the next day as you knew you'd see some, the 2000+ to today, now a 9 day season and after opening day few if any seen and we've had these 4 properties the whole time, we used to take between my dad or me a 200 pounder or + every year in a 2 day hunt, it's been like 12 years since my dad has even seen a shootable buck and that was at like 500 yards, time to lower the expectation to the bottom, bottom of the barrel, nocturnal even doesn't matter much when there is so few shootable bucks around our areas anymore. My dad thinks some when there's 10X the amount of deer stands vs shootable bucks it makes sense, they just can't get old and the old ones get pressured more than once a year and the mature doe even knows not to lead the buck out into danger, traveling at night is safest. It is what it is, better connect opening morning or bagging a mature buck becomes nearly impossible once they know the hunters are out in full force.

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After reading this thread I am even more in support of a buck lottery compared to APR's. APR's do nothing to lower the hunting pressure, and the deer will stay nocturnal. Hope some other folks give it a thought...

Sorry for bringing up some topics (buck lottery, APR's) that have been dragged through the mud many times....carry on.

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Not necessarily true Jameson.

With more mature bucks, there will be a more fierce rut potentially. Its a well known fact that mature bucks travel great distances to keep tabs on their terrain. Which means there could be more desire by them to ensure there are not intruders.

APR could in fact actually help in the sightings of bucks.

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Buck lottery in my area would be me with no buck permit I wouldn't shoot and I don't party hunt my wife would join the pool and I'd whack her buck for her, just kidding but many already bend the rules we have and having a half million deer hunters .................I don't know. There's much going on in the cover of darkness. Best plan for me and father, sell our land and go out west and hunt for the rest of our days, at least we'd see some country, different horned species, and not have to deal with what we are dealing with every season now.

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I saw the opposite last weekend. On Saturday I slept in, read the paper and had breakfast. I got to my hunting land around 11:00 am. I took a ride around on the wheeler to look for sign. By 1 pm I had seen 11 deer in fields, swamp and woods. Headed out to a stand around 2 pm. Made it to the stand shortly before 3. I saw one deer on the way. At 4:10 three deer came by. My friend (not hunting) went walking and saw 6 other deer. He did not jump them, they were just out and about. However, I must admit, I didn't see any bucks.

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Just a suggestion, but you do have to change your hunting pattern with the change in deer activity. Go to your best stand location, then move further back in 100-200 yards - if you can, and with the right wind.

They're likely up and moving before shooting hours are done, but they tend to stay back in the heavier cover until dark.

Monday night I hunted 30-50 yds. back of an edge between a bedding and feeding area - ground blinding, and extremely slow stalking. A friend of mine hunted a stand 250 yds. further in, in a small clearing between the bedding and feeding area. We had a perfect wind just ahead of a very powerful storm. We're a half mile from the nearest road, and well concealed from any human activity.

I saw 6 deer move thru my area, he saw 25 deer move thru his. We were only 300 yds. apart. Nothing made it out to the edge till after shooting hours were done. They all hung back in the thick stuff, lazily milling around about 150 yds. from the edge. We both passed on easy opportunities opting for more mature animals. The deer sign is absolutely crazy in this area, but most sign is made after dark - except back in the woods a few hundred yards.

ArcherySniper and Matchset are spot on. They have to move. You just have to be in an area where they're moving, and that equates to more remote, secluded areas now.

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Well said canopy, the deer are adjusting to our pressure and we have to adjust to them. I use to hunt the food, then I moved back in between bedding and food and now I hunt the bedding areas. I get back in as far as possible without spooking any deer out. Sometimes I push a little too far or make a little too much noise and kick some deer out, other times I hear or see deer get out of there beds 50-100 yards away. You really have to take your time going in and be patient/slow/quiet but it works for me. I might not suggest this on private ground because you could ruin your land but if its the peak of the rut why not dive in and hunt hard for a couple of days, if the deer start to pattern you try a different spot, 200 yards can make all the difference in the world.

I read a good article recently, can't remember all the details or even where I saw it but one line really jumped out at me. "Hunt where the deer are, not where you want them to be". I have witnessed some of our best stands go dead in recent years, that might be due to low deer numbers but it might be time to make some small adjustments. I got a buck bow season so I spent a good deal of time rifle season scouting and I found some great new locations to hunt.

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I agree Bear but what do you do when after opening day deer sightings go to 0 and that continues on through muzzleloader ? The past 5 years have patterned like that almost to a T. I got guys driving trucks, 4 wheelers, 6 wheelers an hour or less before shooting light through fields and down the edge of the cover etc., the deer are spooked almost daily and after a few days of that they just go on midnight runs, I have stands situated in bedding cover, etc you name it, all private ground hunted alone, but they get busted so much, bow hunting is the plan I'm thinking.

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