There was a couple that lived in the mountains, and they loved the outdoors. It was only natural for the husband to love the deer season. Every year this man tried to convince his wife that she should go with him. He said she would love it.
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Year after year his pleading continued. Until one year she agreed. That morning that they were supposed to go out the man was convinced that the best time to deer hunt was early in the morning (i.e before dawn)
She was not thrilled with the early time. So she slept in while he went out. After she got up, she stepped out of her door onto her patio, and there stood the biggest deer that she had ever seen. She drew back her bow and landed a record deer.
This story illustrates that perhaps there is not a rule regarding the best time to deer hunt. So, here are 3 principles that will help guide you to choosing the best time.
#1. Early Isn’t Necessarily Better
In general, hard-core outdoorsman agree that the best time to go deer hunting is early in the morning. There are several reasons why this has been a principle for several years.
- It allows you to be in the woods before anyone else (unless everyone has the same idea)
- It allows you time to get set up before the legal time you can harvest (more on this later)
- It allows you to move in the dark so when the deer are feeding in the day, you are ready
However, despite some of the obvious reasons for an early start time, there can be some drawbacks.
For one, if there was a full-moon the night before, the deer won’t be moving around a lot during the day. They will have likely fed at night under the cover of darkness, getting more rest during the morning and afternoon.
Meaning that the best time for you to hunt would be late afternoon or right before dusk.
Another reason why early may not be better is in the case of opening day. This is the day that most people will head out because it is the first day of the season, which means everyone will be in the woods early in the morning.
This can be a double-edged sword. It could stir the deer up, bettering your chance to bag a deer, or it could mean that all the deer have moved from their normal spots.
#2. Check Your Local Regulations
Check your local regulations to make sure that you are within the law before you can bag a deer. One of the worst experiences that one could have out hunting is getting an early start to the day and running into a trophy animal before they can harvest the deer.
Often times it is difficult to think clearly because of buck fever. Buck fever is the phenomenon when one sees a trophy animal and has physiological symptoms. Symptoms such as:
- Tunnel vision
- Heavy breathing
When buck fever sets in, it is very difficult to think clearly. One way to not be in violation of the law is to make sure that you are hunting within the regulations. This means being in the field right at sunrise as opposed to an hour or an hour and a half before.
If you are ever unsure of when you should be out in the field a good resource is your local Department of Natural Resources. Always be sure to be hunting within your specific regulations as to have an enjoyable experience.
#3. Be Aware Of Other Conditions
Be aware of other conditions that may allow for your hunting time to change. Many novice or inexperienced hunters don’t realize that not all days are ideal to go out hunting and may even alter the best time to go out hunting. Being cognizant of such factors like:
- Weather conditions
- Other hunters
- Access to food and water
- The local deer population
- Or proximity to other people
- Time in the deer season
Any of these conditions can alter the time that you head out for a good deer hunt. But none of them effect the time that you go out deer hunting more than two factors; the time in the deer season and weather conditions.
Depending on the time in the deer season you are hunting will govern when you go out.
For example, if it is mid-way through the season, you can go at any time because this will typically be during the rut. When the males are trying to mate, they are constantly moving, which means you have a good time to see deer at all times.
Or if it is late in the season, you can go more in the afternoon because with winter setting in, the deer will need to feed more than they have all season. However, this will mean harsher winter conditions.
Always be aware of the weather conditions. Many times people get caught in adverse conditions and have bad experiences or even life-threatening situations.
There are many different factors that go into choosing when the best time to deer hunt is. Your timing in the season will be a big factor in determining when you go out. Early in the season, you should go out early, mid-way through any time will work, and late in the season a later time is better.
The weather conditions will also determine when you go. This is a safety issue, so always be aware of how a specific day will look. Of course, weather can turn at a moment’s notice, so always take good gear and know how to get back to your vehicle.
Finally, always have fun. Deer hunting can be such a rewarding experience, whether you are by yourself or with a group of people. Be sure to have a good safe time.