How to Attract Deer in the Daytime

Matt Johnson
Matt JohnsonPublished: January 29, 2023
How to Attract Deer in the Daytime

Deer hunting season is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it requires some preparation. Knowing when to hunt and how to attract deer can greatly increase your chances of success. Given the fact that we are diurnal creatures, it only makes sense that you would want to attract deer in the daytime.

Don't worry, we'll cover everything you need to know to get that nocturnal buck to swing by your plot during the daytime hours.

Why would you want to attract deer during daylight hours?

When you hunt deer during the day, you have the advantage of being able to see where you are aiming.

You can get a better view of the terrain and use it to your advantage when tracking deer.

Also, although deer may be more active at night, during the day, they tend to move around in search of food and water, making them easier to locate.

Sure, you can track deer movement at night or target buck beds, but with the right setup and strategy, you can attract deer during the day or, at the very least, hours of limited visibility when you, as the deer hunter, have the advantage.

Keep in mind that in some jurisdictions, it is illegal to hunt at night so daytime hunting may be your only option.

Understanding deer habits is key to deer hunting.

Whether you're trying to target mature bucks or just trying to track buck movements for upcoming deer season, it's important to know how and why deer move, sleep and feed.

Most deer are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at twilight, before the sun sets in the evening, and shortly after it rises in the morning.

However, that's not a hard and fast rule as there are many factors.

Depending on weather conditions, human activity, and species type, some deer may be more active during daylight hours and even at night. I've seen deer regularly come to my feeder at around 10 am every morning on the dot.

Sometimes hunters will refer to deer as being strictly nocturnal or even diurnal, but deer actually tend to be crepuscular by nature but with an influence from the factors we mentioned above.

Weather factors.

Factors such as seasonal changes and daily weather will influence when deer are most active.

Predators also play a role in when deer decide to move around; for example, some species may choose to move during rainstorms so their sound is camouflaged by the noise.

Deer can also detect barometric changes, which can cause them to move around in anticipation of a change in weather.

Human factors.

If you've ever hunted whitetail deer and stepped on a twig, then you know how skittish deer can be. This is often referred to as hunting pressure.

Human activity, such as vehicles driving by, heavy foot traffic, and other loud noises can cause deer to stay away from an area during the day.

That's why it's important to limit human activity in areas where you are trying to attract deer.

Also, try to camouflage yourself as much as possible when deer hunting in daylight hours.

Plant and food sources.

Deer are always on the lookout for food, especially during the winter months when their energy reserves start to deplete.

Their movements and bedding areas are easily influenced by food and water sources.

If you’re trying to attract deer during the day, make sure you have a few feeders in your area that can provide food throughout the night and early morning hours.

Also, planting certain types of grasses and shrubs that are known to be attractive to deer can help draw them into your area as well.

Tips to attract deer during hunting season.

Now that you have a good understanding of what makes a deer tick, let's dive into a few tips to help you attract deer during the day.

  • Set up trail cameras.
  • Create a food plot.
  • Use scents.
  • Consider weather patterns.

Set up trail cameras to catch the deer in action.

The first thing you want to do is set up your trail cameras so you can catch the deer movement throughout your area. All of the preparations are pointless if you can't assess your progress.

Game Camera Showing Buck at Food Plot
This game camera footage shows deer activity at night. This can be used to identify what game is coming through your land at all hours.

Remember what we said about when deer are most active? It's important to set your trail cameras during peak deer activity times since you have the highest chance of capturing mature bucks during those hours. That also means you'll need a trail camera with night vision capability.

Set the scene with a food plot.

Deer Clover Food Plot with Hunting Blind

With your trail cams in place, it's time to set the scene. Plant a food plot with clover, alfalfa, and winter wheat for deer to munch on throughout the day.

In addition to providing nutrition, these plants can also offer bedding and shade during summer months when deer are seeking out cooler areas.

You might want to consider placing a programmable feeder loaded with corn, beets, and oats as well. If you go with a feeder, be sure to set the timer for sunrise or just a few minutes before. Sure, the sound of the feeder may startle a mature buck or two at first, but after a few days, they tend to get used to it, and the daytime deer activity will increase despite the sound. After all, they know that sounds mean food.

Make sure you check your local regulations before planting a food plot to ensure you comply with the law. Some states and counties restrict what types of plants can be used for food plots.

Use scents to bring in the bucks.

Just because you have food out doesn't mean the deer will necessarily come. That's why you can use scents to draw them in.

As we discussed earlier, deer are skittish animals and their sense of smell is very strong. You can deploy scent attractants such as buck urine, doe-in-heat urine, mock scrapes, and acorn scents; All of these will help draw deer in from the surrounding area.

When it comes to scents, less is more; too much scent can be overwhelming and can actually drive deer away. Try to use small amounts of scent at multiple locations around your hunting grounds so you don't overwhelm the deer with a single source of smell.

Pro Tip: Sprinkle 1-2 cups of Wildgame Innovations Acorn Rage around the corners of the hunting grounds. You want these around 150-300 meters away from your target area or feeder. This draws the deer in closer in stages.

Bedding areas.

We touched on this briefly, but you want to create a welcoming environment for the deer that's comfortable and safe.

Look for areas with dense vegetation, such as thickets or stands of trees, where deer can feel secure while they rest during the day.

Also, try to keep your human activity in these areas to a minimum; Deer are easily spooked by loud noises, so you'll want to avoid making too much noise when setting up your bedding areas.

Deer Bedding Area
Note the bedding area in this photo. The surrounding taller vegetation with the matted down grass and a game trail leading to it.

Calling nocturnal bucks with sound.

Doe bleats and grunts are an effective way to attract bucks during late pre-rut until post-rut. This is the time of year where bucks begin searching for does to breed. When using doe bleats and grunt calls, adhere to the regular rules of deer calling for the best results.

Deer need water sources.

Just like food, deer need access to water.

Finding a natural source of water such as a creek, stream or pond is ideal; If that's not an option, you can set up water troughs throughout your hunting grounds.

Make sure the water troughs are easy for deer to access and preferably in shaded areas, so the water doesn't get too hot during warm weather. You should also regularly check the troughs to make sure they are clean and free of debris.

Cold fronts and weather patterns.

While most hunters focus on both food and water, many hunters overlook the importance of weather when it comes to deer movement.

Cold fronts and changing weather patterns can have a huge impact on deer behavior, so pay attention to the weather forecasts in your area and plan accordingly. For example, colder temperatures typically mean increased activity in the morning or evening hours, while warmer temps usually result in more daytime activity. Windy days can also affect deer behavior as they tend to seek out more sheltered areas when the wind picks up.

Attracting deer FAQ.

We might've thrown out some terms or ideas that you're unfamiliar with. However, that's why we put together this quick FAQ to help you better understand how to get deer to come to you during the daylight hours.

What type of food should I use to attract deer?

There are very few things deer love more than the following—

  • Corn
  • Beets
  • Oats
  • Clover
  • Alfalfa
  • Winter wheat (for food plots)

While you're at it, a programmable feeder can help you keep the food away from pests such as raccoons and birds.

What type of scents should I use to attract deer?

There are a few excellent scents to lure deer to your plot.

  • Buck urine
  • Doe-in-heat urine
  • Mock scrapes
  • Acorn scents

However, make sure not to use too much scent as overwhelming them can have the opposite effect.

Are cold fronts good for deer hunting?

Yes! Colder temperatures usually mean increased activity in the morning or evening hours, while warmer temps usually result in more daytime activity. Cold fronts can also help deer move around to different areas and provide opportunities for hunters to adjust their hunting strategies accordingly. Additionally, windy days can affect deer behavior as they tend to seek out more sheltered areas when the wind picks up. Therefore, it's important to pay attention to changing weather patterns

What is a doe bleat?

A doe bleat is a sound made by female deer, typically during the pre-rut through post-rut period. Bucks are drawn to these sounds when they're in search of does to mate with. Doe bleats and grunt calls can be effective ways to attract bucks during this time.

How long before daylight should you be in your deer stand?

To make the most of your time in the stand, aim to arrive at least an hour before shooting light. This gives you plenty of time to get ready and let the woods settle while you cool off from your journey.

What time of day are most big bucks killed?

Deer are most active in the early morning and late afternoon, regardless of conditions. That means most hunters will bag their big buck during these hours. Their eyesight is sharpest at these times and hunting pressure is typically not a factor in their activity.

Do deer move during daylight?

During hunting season, deer may reduce their movements and distances due to increased pressure. Generally, they bed during the day and move at night, although there can be exceptions.

Why do big bucks move in the middle of the day?

During the hunting season, or during the rut, bucks may become increasingly active in the middle of the day to respond to both hunting pressure and rutting activity.

Ready for deer hunting season?

Whether you're going for a mature buck or looking to lay down some food plots, deer hunting season is an exciting and rewarding experience. Be sure to pay attention to changing weather patterns, utilize effective scents, and take advantage of deer movements throughout the day. With a little bit of preparation, you'll be ready to take aim from your tree stand.

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Master Outdoorsman

Matt is a seasoned outdoorsman with expertise in fishing, hunting, and wildlife. With a Master's degree in Wildlife Science, he combines his passion for nature with conservation efforts, sharing his knowledge through his writing for Fish and Game Report.

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