For deer hunters, knowing the best times of day to hunt for deer can be crucial for success. Hunting at the wrong time most often yields nothing but time wasted and effort expended. Knowing when the best times to hunt are, however, is a bit tricky.
An awful lot depends on the weather and the terrain you are hunting the deer in. Stormy weather often means that the deer will be moving, regardless of the time of day. This is only true though, if the stormy weather isn't prolonged. Snow and cold in the high country can mean that deer will be moving to lower elevations all through the day, for instance. However, if poor weather continues, deer will tend to find a place of shelter and stay there.
There is an exception. Deer still need to feed and drink. They will leave their shelters to do either of these, and then return. However the deer have a tendency to do the eating and drinking at set times of the day. To be more specific, in the early morning before sunrise, they will normally arise and head for watering sources and food. Once fed and watered, they then return to a bedding ground to lie down. A deer lying down is much harder to spot than one that is on the move, particularly in forested areas.
In normal weather conditions, deer will have some movement all during the day or night. It is helpful to watch cattle in the area, since the times of wandering tend to be roughly the same between deer and cattle. If cattle are lying down, deer are probably doing the same thing, and if the cattle are grazing, the deep most likely are as well. This is a trick successful hunters have been using for many years, though it doesn't actually define a certain time of day.
In most places, hunting deer after dark is against the law, which narrows the best time to hunt deer down considerably. Still, this also doesn't say when the best time for hunting is.
However, consider the main activities of a deer; they sleep, eat, drink water, breed and give birth. It may sound simplified, but it is true too. Hunting seasons are set so they are not in the breeding season, but after fawns have been born and reared. That leaves sleeping, eating, and drinking.
We've already pointed out that a deer that's laying down is much harder to see, and that the best hunting success comes when the deer are on the move. This leaves just the periods when they are eating, drinking, or moving to and from the eating, drinking, or bedding sites.
Again, deer may do a little eating and drinking at almost any time of the day, but there are still two major times they do this, already briefly mentioned. One of these occurs from about an hour before darkness to an hour after dark. The other happens about an hour before sunrise until about an hour afterward.
In the first case, their bellies are pretty full, but they need water so they don't need to return to a drinking site during the night, when predators are most active. So they move toward water, stopping to eat from time to time. Once they get to the water and drink their fill, they return to the bedding sites to lay down for the night, except for when there is a full moon, when they may get up to eat a little more. Even in this case though, most of their time is spent lying down.
In the second case, again except for times of the full moon when they've been able to eat through the night, the deer get up hungry and thirsty. They again work their way to water, eating along the way.
This means that the best times to hunt deer are in the very early morning, and again just before darkness. The deer will be most active and easier to find. In fact, three quarters of the bucks taken are shot at these times. It isn't an accident that the game commission tends to make its rounds in mid morning and after dark, to check tags and licenses.
Watching the natural movements of deer throughout the year make it much easier to figure out when the best times are to go hunting. However, even without this advantage, knowing what their movements are and why they make them is the best first step toward finding the perfect time to hunt deer.