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Thread: Why do deer become nocturnal ?

  1. #1
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    Why do deer become nocturnal ?

    As I unpack and put awawy my gear [the wife is NOT happy about my ground blind set up in the basement drying LOL] and search for a tag soup recipe,I'm trying to figure out what has happened to the area I hunt.Beginning last year I saw less and less daytime deer activity.This year was worse.I set up a trail cam this year.Got lot's of doe and fawn pics all year.One buck pic,at night.As fall got closer I began to see a pattern.Less and less daytime pics.My camara's flash quit working and for about a month had no nite pics.I replaced the cam and got lots of late evening,early morning pics.I took a weeks holiday the last week of Oct. and hunted all but 3 stormy days.Saw 10 deer first day,6 the next.Storm rolled in saw zip.Hunted as time permitted next week,but didn't get out for 2 weeks after that.It snowed here big time startingThursday and Friday.Friday evening I get to the farm pumped to see what will be moving Sat morning.Nothing .All tracks were from overnight.Same Sunday and Monday.3 bucks on my cam from the 2 weeks prior,all at night.Now, by my and the local farmers estimation there are loads of does and fawns,but nobody is seeing bucks.Found 2 scrapes 2 rubs this year.Due to the very wet wheather the last few years and more so this year,we are seeing more wolf activity as well.Are these factors or is it just an odd year?Sorry about the long read,needed to vent and ask.Thanks.

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  2. #2
    i do not believe deer become nocturnal. i think they are primarly nocturnal and sometimes show in the daylight. what really affects night and day movement is temperture. when winter coats get heavy and warm temps are out, they get hot during the day so they move alot at night. there needs some real cold temps for a period of time to spark daytime movement. hence why here in arkansas you dont see much of daytime activity, temps drop to highs in the 50's which isnt that cold then jump up in a few days to 70's. makes me think the winter coats are hot, then hunting pressure around them. why would they want to move in the day?

    early in october here, i have great luck. first few weeks. n its hot but that last 30 minutes of daylight is on fire with deer. but noticed the coats are light, then as they get heavier, and hunting gets heavier the deer gradually come later to food. then gradually work their way back to some daytime as cold temps set in during january.

    a deer, his eyes shine. meaning they collect light. they see way better at night than we do. woods are lots lots lots quieter at night than daytime. no hunters to deal with as well. even the highways etc slooowwww down and are quieter.so..........
    i notice also that my game cameras dont change with or without full moon. same deer, same times.

    ive changed may way of thinking on hunting. figuring i am hunting a nocturnal creature always. i hunt where a buck may run late to the bed in the mornings. closer to bedding in the afternoons. Funnels during the rut. esp between where does bed.

    of course this is opinion only

  3. #3
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    human pressure
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by r0cketman View Post
    human pressure
    x2!

  5. #5
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    OP....sounds like you're just not on a very good piece of land. your trail cam should be chock full of pic sof bucks at night if they're there. That is if you have enough cams out to gain a representative sample of your proplerty.You'd be surprised how different a neighboring tract can be. MY primary tract here is like that. I know the guys next to me might only see 10 or 12 deer per day and we see 40 to 50. Those deer know what they're doing. We have more food and they don't get shot at on our place.

  6. #6
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    deer are generally a nocturnal creature

    some much more than others though....those are the ones that die of old age

    some deer are just plain SHY....just like some people

    and well....higher perceived pressure by humans certainly will increase their shyness
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by rivershark View Post
    i do not believe deer become nocturnal. i think they are primarly nocturnal and sometimes show in the daylight. what really affects night and day movement is temperture. when winter coats get heavy and warm temps are out, they get hot during the day so they move alot at night. there needs some real cold temps for a period of time to spark daytime movement. hence why here in arkansas you dont see much of daytime activity, temps drop to highs in the 50's which isnt that cold then jump up in a few days to 70's. makes me think the winter coats are hot, then hunting pressure around them. why would they want to move in the day?

    early in october here, i have great luck. first few weeks. n its hot but that last 30 minutes of daylight is on fire with deer. but noticed the coats are light, then as they get heavier, and hunting gets heavier the deer gradually come later to food. then gradually work their way back to some daytime as cold temps set in during january.

    a deer, his eyes shine. meaning they collect light. they see way better at night than we do. woods are lots lots lots quieter at night than daytime. no hunters to deal with as well. even the highways etc slooowwww down and are quieter.so..........
    i notice also that my game cameras dont change with or without full moon. same deer, same times.

    ive changed may way of thinking on hunting. figuring i am hunting a nocturnal creature always. i hunt where a buck may run late to the bed in the mornings. closer to bedding in the afternoons. Funnels during the rut. esp between where does bed.

    of course this is opinion only
    That is my opinion too. The temperature has much to do with it. Deer simply do not want to move when it's warm out and they have their winter coats on. The daytime temperatures need to be cool enough for them to move, otherwise they will move at the coolest time, which is night.

    In the winter when it's cold at night and warmer in the day, they will do the opposite, they will move at the warmer times during daylight hours. Human pressure has some to do with it, but not as much as temperature.

  8. #8
    They feel almost no pressure at night so they bed all day! thats why a lot of people only see big bucks first week of season and the rut!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fldeerslayer View Post
    x2!
    x1,000,000

    Also, deer are crepuscular animals, which has something to do with us not seeing them during shooting hours...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crepuscular

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  10. #10
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    I think that they spend less and less time during daylight hours as people take to the woods / meadows and are scouting, setting trail cams, making mock scrapes, putting feeders out, etc. Once gun season rolls around, I think they are only secure after it gets dark. It's much more rare for me to see deer during daylight hours after the orange army departs.
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  11. #11
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    It sounds like a combination of human pressure and there just not being a lot of quality bucks on the property. I hunt two properties literally right across the road from each other. One is open to a lot of hunters and gets heavy pressure. The other is 1/5 of the size but has very little pressure and is surrounded by posted ground. You would not believe the difference in terms of daytime movement and buck sightings between the 2 properties.

  12. #12
    i have properties that almost never get hunted. very little pressure. bucks still are dusk to dawn. nothing during the day. even during september, a month before season ever started was 99% at night. Cant say i think those bucks will ever show at mid day.

    Another thing is, if the does are moving at night. bucks have no reason to be out in the open during daylight hours.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the replies.I agree with all points.It was unseasonally warm here last fall and this fall.There is very little hunting pressure on the farm.My step dad called and said the neighber saw a nice buck this morning.Not the news I want to hear after I leave..LOL.I'll have to rethink how I'm hunting this land over the winter and change some things up for next fall.Like I said, lots of does and fawns so somebody is gettin gigiddy with them,LOL.Good luck to all,Thanks again.
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  14. #14
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  15. #15
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    i think it's 2 main reasons
    1) fewer bullets whizzing around at night.
    2) if you had a fur coat on 24/7, you'd probably be more active when it's cooler, too.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by R0CKETMAN View Post
    human pressure
    Wrong!!!!! I live in a area that has never been hunted ever with a population of about 1,500 whitetails and you will see the deer like clock work come out starting with yearlings at around 4:00pm and then the mothers and then smaller bucks!! The mature bucks will only show them selfs at dark and then walk right up to you and feed out of your hands!!!!!! The nearest hunting any where around here is 250 miles away!!!!!

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by bambikiller View Post
    gun hunter in 2 words
    wrong

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Fldeerslayer View Post
    x2!
    wrong

  19. #19
    Deer are just plain lazy, just like an old yellow lab that likes to lay around all day!!!

  20. #20
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    really...huh...weird cuz around here as soon as gun season starts the deer become nocturnal
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  21. #21
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  22. #22
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    I think it has all of the things that you guys have mentioned based on what you hunt. I to live on property that does not get hunted except by me. The bucks always come in at night. The does and yearlings come in all day if the weather is right. Some of the bucks come in early in the morning but do not stick around long. I think the longest they stay and feed is like 3 minutes. I do know that the full moon screws my deer up, in what way i do not know. I was getting around 250 to 300 pictures in a 24 hr period before the full moon, when the full moon hits I am lucky to get 20 pics and they are all at night. I do believe hunting pressure has alot to do with it to if you hunt pressured land. Gun hunters probably cause some of it, I would not set out there if guns were being fired around me. But dont think bow hunters do not pressure them either. They know when you enter there realm, always. When I first put cameras out, anytime I entered the area to get pics (with rubber boots, spray, etc) it would screw them up for a bit. Eventually I guess they got used to it cause I go get them everyday now with no problems. I also know that warm weather screws with them alot, when it hits 65-70 here they just do not move at all during the day. When it stays around 35-40 its on. I have been watching this for a couple of years now, not proclaiming to know it all, just from what I observe.

  23. #23
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    I don't buy the pressure argument really. I have never understood why deer are nocturnal. Most predators hunt at night, therefore increasing night activity and chances of encountering prey. I just think they are wired to move around at night. I will say though, after rifle season in MO, it takes awhile to get their movement back in the daylight. I contribute that to being worn out from the rut though.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
    I don't buy the pressure argument really. I have never understood why deer are nocturnal. Most predators hunt at night, therefore increasing night activity and chances of encountering prey. I just think they are wired to move around at night. I will say though, after rifle season in MO, it takes awhile to get their movement back in the daylight. I contribute that to being worn out from the rut though.
    not all predators hunt at night. the worst one hunts during the day. humans. would you take your chances with a coyote that your bigger than, or a human in a z71 chevy, with a 800atv, dressed in orange carring a 300 ultra super supreme hum dinger rifle, that smells like sausage?

    honestly, i think the best thing to do with deer is make yourself seem like your not a threat. such as food plots during summer, summer feed, things like that where they associate the four wheeler and truck to food. not harm. i know most dont think they are that smart but deer are alot like cattle in some aspects. not to say they wont be scared of you, but wont be as alert after pulling into the driveway, or checking cameras or etc during hunting time.

  25. #25
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    Deer have to move, in order to survive. It's safer to move at night.

    In the summer, the days are long and the nights are short, so a larger portion of their movement, is during daylight hours. In the fall/winter, it is easier for a deer to stay completely nocturnal, because it has time to get it's "chores" done, before the Sun peeks up above the horizon.
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