Best Deer Feeding Times You Ought To Know

Mother nature is truly amazing. There are countless wonders that the natural world presents to us everywhere you look, you just have to open your eyes! If you are trying to understand deer feeding times to maximize your chance of success on a hunt, it may surprise your to learn that they are very closely linked to the cycles of the moon.

The other major factor impacting deer feeding times is mating season, commonly know as “rut”. If you can monitor these two key factors in your local area and for your local deer population, you can set up in a perfect position to have a successful hunt.

Solunar Charts – The Effect of the Moon on Deer Feeding Times

It’s really quite amazing, but the position of the moon truly does have a significant impact on deer feeding habits. So all you would be deer hunters, pay close attention to the lunar calendar, and you are one step closer to finding the best times to go out on hunt!

The best feeding times for deer depend upon the lunar and solar dates and times, and deer feeding tends to peak when the moon is right above us in the sky. Every region and every location experiences a full moon and the direct vertical position at different times. Find when that time occurs locally and you’re almost guaranteed to see feeding deer, making it much easier for you to spot them and stealthily take one down!

A great resource for estimating your local deer feeding times is deerfeedingchart.com. Simply put in your zip code, and you’ll be provided with solunar charts for your area, including an estimation of minor and major feeding times. Higher “ratings” correspond to a greater chance of hunting success, defined by periods in which major feeding times are closest to sunrise or sunset, giving hunters the most time and light to accurately target their trophy buck.

Deer typically feed two or three times during the day, and may also feed at night if the moon is bright. This is because deer are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during twilight, where predatory animals are least likely to be able to see them, given their vision is typically enhanced for night or day (nocturnal or diurnal).

At Full Moon, deer are most restless for food, and if they find it easily, they will keep coming back for more. If you can find their food source, you should be able to find their pathways back to their nearby bedding areas and now have a fantastic understanding of when and where you are likely to find your target. Set yourself up in a perfect spot, perched in your ladder stand, crossbow with broadheads loaded and at the ready, and you can almost taste the trophy kill already!

Keep in mind that although these times are very accurate at predicting the moon’s position, they are only indicative of deer feeding times and many other factors may impact the deer you are tracking.

Also Read: Where do Deer Sleep?

The Rut and Deer Feeding Times

Another time when hunters can find a lot of targets is during the breeding season, often referred to by hunters as “rut”. This typically occurs in the fall and is a period of increased activity for bucks who are now focused on finding a beautiful young doe to mate with.

Around late October to early November, buck will begin to assert their dominance, eyeing off would-be mates and establishing a pecking order among the herd. At this point, they are still likely to be following their regular feeding patterns, but they tend to venture out from mid-morning to mid-afternoon instead of their usual lazing about.

Come mid November, they may break from their usual feeding times, actively seeking a partner or fighting with other bucks. They will actively move throughout the day in search of a mate. Doe are likely to continue feeding as usual, but you can almost guarantee that if they are, a big buck is nearby ready to pounce! If you can find the pathways the doe take between the usual feeding and bedding spots, you can set yourself up and will have a good chance of snagging a big buck wandering about looking for partner.

At about the end of November through to early or even mid-December, feeding becomes a focus again. Occasionally, some doe are yet to breed and you may still see a buck wandering around if they catch her scent in the air. From this point, buck are usually pretty beat up from fighting with other back and worn out from actively breeding. This can often be a good time to catch a gorgeous trophy buck at his worse.

Also Read: When do deer shed their antlers?

deer feeding moon phase

Putting It Together

When these major feeding times coincide with periods of sunrise and sunset, this gives you the maximum amount of time with good light to potentially land your prey. If you do this during the rut, you are likely to see even more increased movement, not just associated with deer feeding times but also with the deer activity from big bucks distracted by the allure of a potential mate.

Setting up in a hang on tree stand or ground blind, just off their usual routes between bedding and feeding, can maximize your chances of catching them off-guard and taking home an awesome kill. 

It will be up to you to get out in the field and monitor their habits. Doing your best to remain undetected as you learn the habits of the herd and set yourself up perfectly for the day you choose to take them down! 

A rough guide through the hunting season is outlined below, but a little bit of terminology to start:

  • Moonrise: Just like sunrise, this is the time at which the moon first rises above the horizon
  • Moonover: When the moon is at is peak, directly above your location
  • Moonset: When the moon first falls below the horizon
  • Moonunder: When the moon is exactly on the opposite side of the earth

Early Season – Late September to Late October:

  • Minor Feeding Times: About 1 hour centered on moonrise and moonset
  • Major Feeding Times: About 2 hours centered on moonover and moonunder

Pre-Rut – Late October to Early November

  • Minor Feeding Times: About 1 hour centered on moonrise and moonset
  • Major Feeding Times: About 2 hours centered on moonover and moonunder
  • Increase buck activity mid-morning to mid-afternoon as they assess the situation in preparation for rut

Rut – Mid-November to Early December:

  • Minor Feeding Times: About 1 hour centered on moonrise and moonset
  • Major Feeding Times: About 2 hours centered on moonover and moonunder
  • Bucks are cruising throughout the day, looking for a mate and fighting with other buck

Pre-Rut – Late September to Late October:

  • Minor Feeding Times: About 2 hours centered on moonrise and moonset
  • Major Feeding Times: About 3 hours centered on moonover and moonunder
  • Buck may still be cruising if any doe are yet to breed, but are often pretty beat up by this stage and returning to regular feeding

Also Read: Do Deer move in the Rain and Wind?

deer hunting feeding times

What other factors affect deer feeding times?

The impacts of the solunar calendar and rut have been studied, tested and proven, such as the study completed on a ranch in South Texas where a group of biologists followed several groups of deer between October and January and demonstrated that deer movement increased during sunrise, sunset, the peak of the day and the peak of the night, with rut being shown to derail their patterns for a few weeks.

However, there are also many other factors that impact deer feeding times. Deer may operate instinctively, but they will not expose themselves to unnecessary risk if possible. Other factors to consider are:

  • Bad weather: Such as heavy rain, strong winds or snow: Deer tend to try to avoid harsh environmental conditions when possible, but if these conditions persist for several days they will be forced to return to their usual habits to seek food
  • Hunting Pressure: Deer will catch on to the continued threat of hunters and completely move away from the area if they are subjected to constant hunting pressure
  • Temperature: Deer tend to remain quiet and lazy during hotter weather, so if a day is particularly hot in the early or late season, you may not see a lot of deer movement despite other factors suggesting they should be out and about

Conclusion

The best feeding times for deer are according to the lunar cycle and rutting season. The new moon might not see a lot of deer activity, and Full Moon is a great time as deer become more active during the day as well as night. Optimum hunting time is when major feeding times align with sunset and sunrise and during the rutting season. At these times, you are likely to see the most amount of deer movement during the hours of the day that have good light for hunting.

It’s up to you to track your local conditions and learn the movements of the deer you are targeting. Once you find their feeding spots, bedding areas and usual routes between each, you can choose the perfect cycle of the moon, preferably during the rut or just after, and you will have loads of chances to take down an unsuspecting buck.

Good luck hunters!!

And if you happen to snag yourself that trophy buck and are wondering what to do with the tallow, check this out!

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