What time of day do you prefer to hunt during the early bow season?

By Grant Woods,

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As opening day approaches I have been getting a little ‘cabin fever’ and have been watching many tips from hunters online. I recently viewed one segment in which the “expert” said that one of bowhunters early season blunders is hunting in the morning. They said that morning hunts pressure deer and they stay in their bedding areas or leave the area all together. They said to hunt the evenings during early season.

My question to you Dr.Grant, what in your experience is the best time of day to hunt early season whitetail? Is it better to go to the stand later in the day and try to catch the deer as daylight dwindles or get in the stand before the sunrise?

Let’s add to the scenario that we have not been able to observe the comings and goings of the deer on a regular basis, we haven’t patterned these deer but we know they are there.


There are many variables that determine what time of day I hunt during any portion of the season.  The primary variable is when I can hunt without alerting deer.  This is often determined by the layout of the property.  

During the early season deer will typically be feeding in ag field, food plots, or areas of herbaceous plant growth.  If I have to travel through these areas to reach my stand/blind then I’m likely to alert deer before the hunt begins.   

In general it’s easier to approach stands/blinds during the afternoon without alerting deer as most deer will be in a bedding area. However, at some properties hunters can approach travel corridors without alerting deer in feeding areas.  In these situations hunting during the mornings can be very productive!  

Remember that afternoons to deer are like mornings to most hunters.  Deer have been bedded all day and are eager to get up and go feed during the afternoons!  During the early season the days are long and deer have been bedded a long time.  They often are hungry and will leave the bedding area well before dark.  However, mature deer often return to the bedding area before daylight – just like most mature humans go to bed a bit earlier than younger folks.  

If didn’t know the area or the pattern of deer in an area, I’d error on hunting during the afternoons so I’d alert fewer deer.

Enjoy creation,