Many hunters are under the impression that big deer only feed at night. While deer are primarily nocturnal, they can’t go all day without feeding. The demand for nutrition is just too great. A buck must feed at least every couple of hours, even if it is a small amount. A deer is most vulnerable when feeding and they eat very fast. During the day buck will bed right in a food source if possible. He can stand up, feed for a few minutes, and lay back down without much movement. This has been the undoing of a lot of bucks.
During the fall, whitetail deer movement centers on feeding and ruminating. A hunter who understands the dynamics behind this daily routine can dramatically increase his odds for success.
It takes a tremendous amount of vegetation to support a whitetail deer. A mature buck needs over eight pounds of forage a day. That’s twenty-five thousand or more bites of browse and graze each day. Deer typically spend more than a third of their time feeding, a third of their time ruminating, and slightly less than a third of their time resting.
A deer’s greatest period of wakefulness begins near dusk. After resting and ruminating for several hours the deer are hungry. As evening cools, they get up from their beds and begin to move towards their primary food source, often a clear-cut, crop field, or pasture. Along the way they will stop and briefly gather mast crops. These include acorns, berries, apples, and other fruit. Mast is easily digested and requires little if any rumination, so the buck moves quickly from here to his prime food source.
Ambushing deer on their way to a primary food source is one of the best ways to harvest trophy animals. However, a hunter who understands a deers feeding pattern during the middle of the day will be more successful year in and year out. Take time to find out what plants the deer feed on during the day and plan to hunt those areas this fall. If left undisturbed the deer will bed right in the middle of these spots. It’s always best to play in front of the deer and getting into these spots before the deer do is essential.
Unfortunately, most people treat their hunting like the lottery. They spend a little time in the woods and pray for a win, which rarely comes. And I’m sorry to say, it’s the same thing happens to most people who play the lottery. Only a tiny percentage make any money.
The truth is, and I’m sure you know it from personal experience, that most hunts are duds, losing tickets. Want to know why your success in hunting isn’t as much as you’d like it to be? The answers are in the book.