Morning vs. Evening Hunts | What Time is Best for Deer Hunting?
By: Dylan Hayward
Morning vs. Evening Hunts
One of the age old debates when it comes to deer hunting is whether it is better to hunt mornings or evenings.
I have friends that devote 75% or more of their stand time to evening sits, and I know a few other guys that haven’t been on an evening hunt in years.
Is there a right answer? Is it as black and white as saying one is for sure better than the other?
I personally don’t think so. In fact, of the bucks that are currently hanging on my wall, nearly half were harvested in the morning, and the others were killed in the evening. There are several factors that come into play when considering a morning or an evening hunt.
Food source, bedding, time of year, entry and exit routes, wind, thermals, etc. With a general understanding of these factors, you can make the most out of morning and evening, although I will say, I have found there to be more deer movement in the evenings for early season and late season.
Deer Movement in the Evening vs. Morning
Some people like to argue that deer are nocturnal animals, however this is not true at all. Nocturnal refers to animals that sleep all day and come out at night to eat.
If this were the case, we would never be able to harvest a whitetail deer.
They are however crepuscular, which means that they are most active at dawn and at dusk. This is because through evolution, deer have evolved to be most active when their predators are not. This can create a problem for morning hunters as they will generally be getting into the stand while a deer is out feeding, or while they are coming back to bed.
The most difficult part about morning hunts in my opinion is the ability to get in the stand without spooking a deer.
Morning Deer Hunts
Morning hunts are incredible. There’s something about being out in the woods while it’s still pitch black and being able to experience the sunrise, listening to the birds start their day, and watching wildlife wakeup.
There’s also a peacefulness about knowing that when you get out of the stand, the day is still young, which brings an excitement that evening hunts just don’t carry.
However, morning hunts can be very unproductive if not planned the right way. One of the main things I look at when deciding whether or not I will hunt a spot in the morning is the entry and exit route to the stand.
There has to be a clear path to get in my stand that has almost no risk of bumping a bedded or feeding deer.
The risk of blowing out a spot for a morning hunt just isn’t worth it. I also like to consider the time of year. Deer activity seems to die down an hour or so into a morning hunt, unless it is November, when there is a lot of late morning and early afternoon buck activity. I try to save most of my morning hunts for the rut, although that isn’t always the case.
It’s also extremely important to consider thermals when picking your morning hunt.
Thermals occur when there are larger temperature shifts. When you’re on a morning hunt and the sun starts to come up and the temperature starts to rise several degrees, that warmer air is going to bring your thermals up, because warm air is less dense than cool air. Vice versa when you’re on an evening hunt and as the sun starts to set and the temperature cools, your thermals are going to drop.
Make note of this based on your hunting location. If you’re hunting a morning spot in a creek bottom, as the sun comes up, your thermals are going to blow directly towards the deer and ruin your hunt.
Evening Whitetail Hunts
Evening hunts, especially in the early season when deer are extremely patternable, can be amazing. It’s almost like clockwork that the does will be coming out to feed an hour before sunset, and the bucks about 20 minutes before legally shooting light ends.
During the rut, when daylight activity is at an all year high, the evening hunts tend to be a little dull. For the most part, I take a lot of focus off evening hunts during the entire month of November, and I really go hard on the morning sits.
In the early season and late season, if you can set up on a heavily used food source such as standing beans, food plots or a thick oak patch, your chances of seeing a lot of deer are high.
Both morning and evening hunts have their pros and cons.
It will really boil down to how your property is set up, what time of the year it is, and the main food sources. Trail cameras are a great scouting tool that will show you what the deer movement is like in the mornings and evenings.
Check out the Tactacam Reveal X to monitor your deer activity directly from your phone. That way you don’t have to check the SD card weekly, disturbing the property and bumping deer out.