doe sleeping in snow

When Do Deer Sleep? A Hunter’s Guide

There are tons of scenarios in which you might want to know the answer to: When do deer sleep?

Maybe you’re still-hunting through the woods trying to ambush a sleeping deer. 

Or you’re a hunter trying to set-up super close to a deer’s bedding area and don’t want him to hear you.

You may just want to see a deer sleeping for curiosity’s sake.

These are all valid reasons.

So this post should help anyone looking to do the same by answering when deer sleep and everything else you didn’t know you needed to know.

What Time Do Deer Sleep?

According to a GPS deer collar study done by Penn State University, deer sleep the most between 9am – 4pm. Deer typically keep their naps short and use thick cover to sleep in short intervals whenever it’s safe to do so.

whitetail buck deer sleeping

You can find more information on the deer sleep study on Penn State’s Website.

But the thing is, deer don’t ALWAYS sleep during those hours. Deer sleep anytime of the day that they want to.

That’s because deer are like humans and each one has its own personality and sleep schedule.

But in general, deer are crepuscular creatures meaning they’re most active during the twilight periods.

This means you’ll be less likely to catch them sleeping at those times, but it’s not impossible.

deer moving at dusk

Interestingly, deer learned to sleep in short bursts as a survival instinct to stay aware of predators.

So when deer sleep, they’re not asleep like humans are. They’re getting rest but they’re still aware of their surroundings.

If they feel hunter pressure is higher than normal then deer sleep even less. This happens in a lot of places when rifle season gets started.

Trucks popping gravel and a sea of orange vests lets deer know to be very selective with when they choose to sleep.

So expect deer to be keyed in on their surroundings and sleeping less when hunting pressure is high.

When do Deer Sleep in the Winter?

Deer still sleep during the daytime during the winter. They sleep the most from 8am – 3 pm but will adjust their sleep schedule as needed. Since the day is shorter, the hours they sleep move up to reflect the fact that the twilight period is earlier during the winter time.

deer bedded in snow

During the winter, deer like to soak up the sun during the day while they’re bedded down to stay warm.

This gives deer more reason to find time to sleep during the day since they can maintain their body heat without moving.

A lot of deer will find a nice south-facing slope or ridge that feels the warmth of the sun throughout the day to do this.

This helps them stay warm until the onset of cold from the sun setting urges them to move around and warm up.

When do Deer Bed?

white-tailed deer bedded on ridge

Deer typically bed during the same hours that they like to sleep: 9am – 4pm. These hours vary based on the particular deer and other factors like weather. In general, deer bed down during the heat of the day to stay cool and save energy.

But this doesn’t mean you should get up from your tree stand at 12 pm.

Lots of hunters who hunt through the day end up harvesting a trophy buck if they do it enough.

After all, deer are unpredictable. Food, water, and does have such a tight grip on bucks that they really could pop out into shooting range at any time.

white-tailed buck in shooting sights
White-tailed buck looking for food or does has put himself into shooting range.

But nonetheless, if you’re just hunting for meat you may not get the biggest bang for your buck hunting midday.

Midday is when most deer like to bed and it’s also the hottest time of the day. So plan on bringing some water if you’re a true woodsman and want to give it a shot.

When do Deer Hibernate?

Unlike bears, deer don’t need to hibernate. Hibernation is a period of inactivity to save energy during the winter when it’s cold and food is scare. Deer have no need to hibernate during the winter due to their fast metabolism, thick fur coat, and ability to adapt to the available winter food sources.

white-tailed buck deer walking in snow
White-tailed buck out and about looking for food in the winter.

And In states like Alabama, the rut extends through the winter so it wouldn’t make much sense for deer to hibernate.

Bucks are constantly monitoring does to see which one pops into estrous first. So it wouldn’t be beneficial as a species for bucks to hibernate when they should be prepping for breeding season instead.

Final Thoughts

A lot of factors influence a deer’s sleep schedule, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when deer will be sleeping. 

But you get the gist. Like humans, deer have typical times that most of them will be bedded down and potentially sleeping.

If you do catch them sleeping, it’s not like they’ll be sleeping for long. At least not long enough for you to sneak up behind them and take a shot.

Deer bed in such thick cover so that they’ll hear you before you even see them.

But having a better understanding of when deer sleep will never hurt. And over time little pieces of knowledge like this definitely add up.

So hopefully learning about deer’s sleep schedules will give you an advantage in the deer woods this season.

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