Understanding Deer Feeding Times

Deer move for simple reasons. In this post we discuss deer feeding times, and why that’s an important factor when planning your hunts.

What time should I go out and hunt today? is a question that runs through every deer hunter’s mind each time they have the chance to hit the woods. Not all of us have the luxury (or endurance) to spend a full day on the stand, so it’s a matter of weighing the odds and making the difficult choice of when to go out. This post will hopefully help you better understand deer feeding times and why the morning and evening time slots are critical to hunters.

We often make things more complicated than they are, but it’s always good to remember that deer move for simple reasons - either to and from their bedding areas or coming and going from a food source. It’s important to focus on these common patterns to try and maximize hunting opportunities when you have limited time. We all have busy lives outside of hunting, so we need to be smart about timing our efforts.

Breaking down deer feeding times

Deer are crepuscular mammals. Not to get all latin on you, but the word crepuscular comes from the latin word crepusculum, which means “twilight”. Crepuscular critters are those that are most active during the twilight hours (i.e., the period immediately after dawn and right before dusk). This is not to say that these animals only move at these times, but it’s why we generally see peak activity in the morning and evenings from deer. Simply put, this is when deer are typically out feeding.

As most hunters know, the prime time sits are either in the morning or in the evening. But why? Going back to deer movement and feeding times, these windows of time are when deer are most active out feeding - which is why we typically concentrate our hunting efforts when either the sun is coming up in the morning or going down in the evening. However, it’s important to keep in mind that deer can move for a variety of other reasons throughout the day, and there is the chance that bucks could be out cruising in the afternoon, especially during the rut. A lot of hardcore whitetail hunters out there actually advocate for those afternoon timeslots. But going back to maximizing your time in the stand, it’s best to focus on the mornings or evenings when you have limited time to get out and hunt.

Know what deer are feeding on

It’s critical to know when deer tend to move for food, but it’s also important to understand what types of food sources deer are moving to throughout the year. If you want to find more deer, you need to figure out what type of food sources deer are hitting. As the season progresses deer seek out different types of food depending on their nutritional needs for that particular time of year.

Deer are actually pretty lazy when it comes to choosing what meal to snack on. They’re going to pick the food source that offers the least path to resistance. Like trout, they are going to eat what’s right in front of them, and they don’t want to work too hard for that meal when it comes to taking on calories. As the season progresses, deer will feed on areas with the densest amount of food per acre. More to come on what types of food deer are eating in upcoming posts.

In summary, it’s important to keep in mind when deer are feeding and concentrate your efforts around those first couple of hours of daylight and those magical few hours before sundown. Deer move for a reason - either to/from bedding or looking for food, and once you know when deer are moving in your area, you can use that your advantage to slip in and capitalize on that mature whitetail.

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