How to find and hunt nocturnal bucks (2023)

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13. October 2022

How do you get nocturnal deer to come out during the day? Learn why white-tailed deer are nocturnal and how to hunt nocturnal buck during the day.

How to find and hunt nocturnal bucks (1)

The sun slowly dips below the horizon behind your tree stand. You're hanging on to the last rays of the sun, hoping to spot the elusive nocturnal buck your trail camera snapped photos of at night. Then it dawns, the guns are down - and once again you've eluded your trophy. You will go home reinventing your hunting strategy and he will live to fight another day.

For off-season whitetail hunters, unearthing a full-grown buck—and making sure you get in his way—can be a crazy challenge. It takes expert woodworking skills, the right hunting conditions, and more than a bit of luck. So let's talk about the legend of the nocturnal buck. Is it myth or fact? And what can you do to successfully hunt deer in daylight?

Are deer really nocturnal?

A buck that has “gone nocturnal” is a well-known term in hunter-speak. It refers to the change in deer activity patterns to move more after dark than during the day. And since it's illegal to hunt by moonlight, that poses a problem for hunters.

But are deerYes, reallynocturnal? Do they only move at night when they are not fair game for hunters? Not exactly. deer aredusk: They are most active near sunrise and sunset and are generally more active at night than during the day. This is especially true for mature bucks.

Matt Ross from the National Deer Associationexplained it like this:…with mature bucks you can count on two things: they move most at dawn and dusk and during the rut. It's in their DNA.”

But that doesn't mean deer aren'tat allactive during shooting times. We know they need to feed at least twice a day, and certain other motivating factors - like the breeding seasoncan get money on their feet when the sun is overhead. We'll talk more about that in a moment. But first, why do deer become nocturnal?

(Video) 5 Nocturnal Buck Hunting Tips

Why don't nocturnal deer come out during the day?

While deer aren't quite nocturnal in the truest sense of the word, wise old whitetails can still pull off a convincing act of disappearance during the day. So where in the forest are they? Let's look at four factors that make deer nocturnal and why you might not see bucks during the day.

How to find and hunt nocturnal bucks (2)

Small core area

It's very likely that your target deer will simply limit movement to a small area that meets all of its survival needs. A buck's home range is approximatea square mile in size(although this can increase significantly during the rut) and where it lives 90-95 percent of the year.

Within this home range, a buck has aCore area, which is about 60-85 hectares. This area usually provides plenty of food and cover, and it's where it spends at least 50 percent of its time -- or more when pressured by hunters. A buck's core area is also usually a dense, gnarled, tangled thicket of forest that's easy to hide in and ridiculously difficult to hunt.

As an example, check out this fascinating visual study by the National Deer Association. It shows aCollared bucks from June to October. Notice how narrow its core range is and how little it deviates from it day or night until cooler weather and the rut begins. And even when he ventures out and pushes his limits, he still moves mostly at night.

To take down this deer - and others like it - a hunter must find a buck's heartland and approach undetected through dense vegetation during the day. Difficult? Yes, but not impossible for the experienced hunter.

(Video) Nocturnal Bucks - FACT or FICTION?? w/MSU Deer Lab


Research suggests so tooAs the deer get older, their loyalty to the site increases. Simply put, this means that large deer are reluctant to leave or change their place of residence as they age. So we can assume that a reclusive, mature buck is likely to remain close to the comfort and safety of its home (its core range), where it has survived for several years or more. This contributes to fewer sightings – during the dayorNight - by hunters.

Warm weather

Seasonal changes and warm weather also affect deer hunting. Hot summer days stifle movement and usually cause deer to hole up. So if it's early bowhunting season and 80 degrees outside? You should probably set your expectations on hitting big bucks in daylight. Deer instead venture out at night when temperatures cool to a comfortable level.

hunting print

Areas with a lot of time of dayMenschActivities - especially with the pressure of hunting when the season is in full swing - will likely see little daylightHirschActivity. Strange smells, the howling of motorized vehicles, and even subtle noises like the scratching of a zipper or Velcro fastener all contribute to bucks retiring and becoming nocturnal.

7 tips for hunting nocturnal deer

Every buck is huntable, even the elusive night dwellers that seem impossible to track down. So how can you increase your success if you hunt a nocturnal buck during the day? Here are seven tips for finding nocturnal deer and big bucks and getting them moving in daylight.

How to find and hunt nocturnal bucks (3)

1. Locate the core area

You now know how important a buck's core area is to survival. Find out where it is - particularly where its bedroom is - and you'll likely find its hiding place for the day. scouting andUse of trail cameras for surveyingDeer can be great tools to help you gather information, study a buck's movements and refine his core area.

(Video) 5 Ways To Kill Nocturnal Bucks

2. Know travel routes

Deer have preferred travel corridors from litter areas to food sources. When you are in your deer's core areaandon his preferred route? Chances are you'll run into him at some point in daylight. Again, wildlife cameras come in handy for pinpointing commonly used migration routes for wildlife.

3. Work with the weather

A strong motivator for deer to get up and move is a significant cold front or rainfall event. Early and late season temperature drops and storms often prompt nocturnal bucks to move around a bit more during shooting times. So go into the woods when the weather turns and keep that in mind toowake up windintelligent.

4. Control your scent

A deer's nose is its most powerful survival tool. It allows them to sense danger, find food, and sniff out other deer from half a mile or more away. This also means that deer can smellshefrom an impressive distance. Eliminating your scent is crucial when hunting a reclusive nocturnal buck. Findodor reducing tipsin this blog.

5. Go stealth

You've been told ad nauseam not to scare the deer. But most of the time we don't realize how much noise we're making, even when we're trying to be ultra-quiet. Wrappers, snaps, sizzling packs, jingling carabiners—and especially our side-by-sides—are like death knells to deer's finely tuned ears. Silently hop in and out of ambushes and create non-invasive access points to booths and cameras to avoid disturbing alert bucks' key feeding sources and sleeping areas.

6. Avoid the crowds

Deer naturally tend to move around sunrise and sunset, so naturally hunters hit the forest hard at this time. To avoid crowd pressure, try hunting nocturnal bucks in more remote areas or at midday when many hunters give up their efforts for a few hours. Especially try between 10am and 2pm. This time has proven fertile for hardy hunters, and studies show it's a time when deer get on their feet - especially when it's cool.

7. Chase the rut

If all else fails and your target buck refuses the daylight, wait until he heeds nature's call during the rut. The breeding season is the strongest influence on a nocturnal buck and the most likely time for them to roam. Most adult bucks change patterns and crossbreed outside of core ranges and even beyond home range boundaries during the rut. You just have to stand in his way when he does it. Here you will find helpful tipsto successfully hunt the rut. And good luck!

(Video) How To Find and Kill "NOCTURNAL" Bucks!! MYTH Revealed!!

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How to find and hunt nocturnal bucks (4)

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(Video) 3 Ways To Hunt Nocturnal Bucks


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2. Use Weather Patterns to Hunt Nocturnal Bucks - Deer Hunting
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