It was a frosty November morning when I took a shot at a buck I had been chasing all season. He was a mature buck with incredibly tall brow tines and an impressive spread. How tall his brow tines were exactly, I couldn’t tell you. I never actually got my hands on him.
That’s how it goes sometimes, an errant shot can ruin your season, but that’s a story for another day. Regardless of the poor shot that was taken at the monarch, I did everything else right in order to tip the odds in my favor. Even more impressive was the fact I gotten situated in the stand right before I spotted him at 11:10 am.
There’s something about an afternoon hunt gets me fired up and ready to see some action. On the other hand I also enjoy watching the woods come alive when the sun crests the horizon and the rays of light bounce off the frost-covered landscape. The problem is my schedule prevents both of these hunts from happening as much as I’d like. I have now learned that by hunting in the middle of the day, I still have a great chance to harvest a buck and see plenty of deer activity. Here are a few things to look for.
The first thing on your list is to seek out areas of land that have seen very little hunting pressure and even the smallest tracts can hold bucks this time of the year. These deer will be more likely to move throughout the day. Likewise, if your land is more on the pressured side, such as public land or land that’s part of a hunt club, you will find that midday hunting is ideal since the deer have modified their patterns due to the presence of hunters. Studies have shown that it’s pretty tough to run a deer out of his home range for long, and if he does, he’ll return soon. That being the case, rarely does that buck just disappear, unless another hunter shoots him. Deer, especially mature bucks, learn the hunter’s movement patterns and avoid them during those hours. Check the Boone and Crockett records and note the number of bucks taken during midday hours…you’ll be surprised.
Some of the most common hotspots for midday movement are areas where they can feed or mill around for a bit while being secluded. Stands of timber that have soft or hard mast-producing trees are great sites. Creeks and staging areas near doe bedding areas are also great spots where movement is often observed. The aforementioned buck was following a creek bank rubbing every sapling in sight when my bullet soared over his back. I believe he was on his way to scent-check a nearby doe bedding area for hot does. As always, trail cameras are your best friend when it comes to understanding deer movement patterns and will let you know if deer feel comfortable moving around during the middle of the day in a particular area. While I would still avoid entering into an area thought to be a buck’s bedding area, I would push my luck and get as close to it as possible now. Deer don’t stay bedded very long and often times will get up and move around. They may not move too far but they will be on their feet sometime throughout the day.
Late morning and early afternoon aren’t your usual hours for harvesting deer but if you keep a hectic schedule and find it difficult to make time to get in the woods this fall, give it a try. When properly planned out, you will be surprised at the activity you observe. Hunters commonly debate when the best time of day to hunt is. The answer is to hunt whenever you can, even during the middle of the day. That’s the best time.
~ Andrew Walters Mossy Oak PropertiesClick here to return to our blog