Are deer nocturnal? No, not really. Crepuscular would be a better designation which means they browse primarily in the morning and early evening. These amazing creatures are quite difficult to successfully hunt, especially when it comes to hunting down a mature deer. What makes a deer so difficult to hunt doesn’t revolve around it being nocturnal but around its ability to swiftly disappear when it senses the slightest danger.
They are dreadfully tricky and they survive because they have great senses. I advise hunters who are looking to hunt deer at night that the first thing they need to do is to master the deer movement patterns and tracks. Set your trail cameras well and after capturing a couple of images on different days, analyze every photo of the deer. Your aim is to learn the behaviors of the animal, the times it passes on the various trails, and how many there are on that trail. Note the exact times each deer shows up and when it leaves the camera location, then plan your hunt around this analysis. Consider this as your best “intel” to predict deer’s behavior in that area.
Also, arrive at your spot early enough- at least two hours before night comes- after doing all of your homework on this deer and analyzing his behavior. This may sound like a lot of work, but this preparation and analysis will increase the chances of a successful hunt.
Although your ability to successfully hunt down a deer depends on a couple of factors, here are some tips that I know can help you.
- Never risk it unless you the situation is perfect: Do not try to hunt a deer if the wind is not in your favor. For example, only hunt your deer if the wind is hitting you in the face or at least it is moving across.
- Be careful with your scent control: You need to de-scent all of your hunting gear and clothing. Apply scent killer on all of your gear and clothing. Spray it down and ensure it dries outside and then place all of your hunting gear in a scent-proof bag or tote. Remember to keep your hunting boots clean. Do not wear them while driving as they will attract a fuel smell. Keep them in a scent-free bag as well. Make sure you have no scent when going into the woods because deer are sensitive creatures and will sense the slightest scent.
- Take a shower before heading to your hunting spot: Right before you head out, take a shower and use scent-free body wash. Towel off using a scent-free towel. Everything you intend to wear should be scent free including socks and vests.
The rationale for successfully hunting down a deer that comes at night is through the photos you have already taken. Your only chance is to wait until the time the deer will come out. You need to get to your spot well before deer get near there because they will hear you come when they are already on the trails you marked.
If the deer see you coming to your spot, you will likely not see it near that trail again for some time. That’s why I advise arriving before the deer to avoid losing your target for a couple of months. Even if the deer fails to appear in your predicted time, sit by at least an hour to see if he will come.
I hope these tips will help you hunt a nocturnal deer successfully. There is no given formula for hunting and killing a deer but at least these tips will improve your chances of capturing a nocturnal deer.