Is hunting pressure causing deer to be nocturnal?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Management
Mr Woods, I could sit for hours and talk to you about deer hunting, land magement and, most importantly, God, but I’ll limit myself to one question. I’m in Tennessee and, in my simpleton opinion, our states game management seems out of touch with what seems logical to me.

The state recently dropped our annual buck harvest from 3-2. I was hoping for it to be dropped to one. For does, I can shoot 3 per day for our entire hunting season. Our season runs from the Sat before thanksgiving to the end of the year, and that’s just our gun season.

Before the season, I was getting many pictures of mature does and bucks. I’ve hunted hard and, I believe smart. Of 7 hunts, I got a brief climpse of a small 8 point, a spike and 5 does. Opening morning, I could have been Iraq and not heard as much shooting. It seems to me that our deer heards are so heavily pressured that they have become nocturnal.

Who’s right? Many of my friends have had similar experiences as I. I still go to watch the sun rise, to hear turkeys coming off their roost but I’m frustrated at the lack of deer movement during the day.


It may surprise you that most states report hunters harvest an average of 1.1 deer per year.  This is fairly consistent even in states like Georgia where hunters are allowed two bucks and ten does!  

I doubt Tennessee hunters are much different from the national trends.  In my home state of Missouri hunters are allowed two bucks with a bow and one with a gun. Last year only 527 hunters tagged three bucks statewide. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to how many deer are killed by cars each year in Missouri.

Kentucky may be an exception as they allow hunters one buck a year. Many bucks do survive to maturity in Kentucky!   

Deer will adapt to avoid danger and certainly will switch to being active primarily during the night to avoid hunters.  This is most obvious in state parks or areas where hunting is prohibited.  Deer in these areas are often very active during daylight hours!

It’s tough for state agencies to satisfy the masses.  The best approach is educating hunters so they will make good choices in the field!

Enjoy creation,


December 10th, 2015