deer sitting in shade

Where Do Deer Go During the Day? How to Capitalize

Outside of the rut, deer are only worried about one thing.

Surviving and staying safe from predators.

So where do deer go during the day to do that?

Generally, deer bed in thick cover during the day to stay hidden from predators. Deer choose spots near food, water, and does during certain times of year. That way they don’t have to move much to support their needs and stay safe during the day.

But deer do different things depending on the time of the year. So keep reading to learn everything about where deer go during the day.

whitetail buck bedded in thick cover
Whitetail buck bedded in thick cover to avoid predators during the day.

What do Deer do During the Day?

For most of the day, deer hide from predators in a thick area with food, water, and cover. This is what hunters call a bedding area. Deer will move out of their beds for different reasons, but usually stay in their core area during the day.

Deer don’t just hide away and sleep all day. Otherwise, no one would kill them.

They do have other needs that they must tend to in order to survive that sometimes put them at risk to hunters.

Search for Food and Water

Deer absolutely have to have food and water. That’s why you’ll hear hunters say they are prisoners to their stomach.

Especially if it’s a hot day or a brutal winter day with little food nearby.

But even if it’s not, deer need to move around to find food and drink water during the day.

deer eating grass in flower field
Two deer browsing for food in flower field.

But you’ll likely see this less with mature deer.

Mature deer get so old by finding bedding areas that have pockets of food and water and food nearby so they can stay safe during the day.

deer eating muscadines during day
Buck eating muscadines near thick bedding cover.

With this in mind, big bucks slip up on the rare occasion. In fact,  several times a year.

And a hot food source close to deer bedding will make this slip-up a lot more likely.

So if you find a group of white oaks that’s raining acorns or some fresh persimmons, there’s a good chance some big deer will checking it out during the day.

Get Ready for the Rut

Hunters often think of the rut as only being a month or so out of the year. Which is kind of true.

But in reality, bucks prepare for this year-round.

From the minute they grow velvet antlers, their testosterone is increasing leading up to this event.

buck chasing doe in rut
Whitetail buck chasing doe during the rut.

Afterall, this is IT for deer.

The big brutes compete to breed does while the young bucks will scrap for the leftovers.

Remember, does like to be bred by the dominant buck. So how do bucks display that?

One of the ways they do this is by fighting.

whitetail bucks fighting
Two bucks fighting during the rut to display dominance.

The click-clacking of antlers is pretty easy to pick out in the stillness of the woods even for a new hunter.

Another thing deer do is hit scrapes.

Bucks lay down scent on the licking branch above the scrape by rubbing it with their tarsal gland.

buck hitting scrape during day
Buck hitting a scrape during the day right before archery season starts.

This lets other deer know different things about them like their age and readiness to breed.

Both bucks and does do this during the day but hitting scrapes is usually a nighttime activity.

deer hitting scrape at night
Buck hitting a scrape at 12 AM in late September.

The last major activity bucks do during the day to prepare for the rut is monitor does coming into heat.

This involves placing themselves downwind of doe bedding areas in order to pick up a whiff of estrous before other bucks do.

map example of bucks bedding downwind of does

This is a great time to catch deer moving. Especially on a day that the predominant wind direction switches a lot.

This will cause bucks to move to a new bedding area in order to keep tabs on the scent of other does.

Where do Deer go when it Rains in the Daytime?

In short, rain doesn’t have a huge effect on deer behavior — especially in the daytime. 

If the rain is coming down hard, deer seek shelter in thick areas to stay safe from danger until it slows down. 

If the rain is light, deer go about their normal daily routine as if it is any other day.

Where do Deer go during the Daytime in the Winter?

Deer behavior changes significantly during the winter when compared to the Fall.

The cold temps and lack of high calorie food play into this.

Penn state research even shows that deer cut their caloric intake in half during the winter. So a deer’s daytime activity must change somewhat, right?

Of course.

But to be more precise, let’s talk about how different winter conditions change where deer go during the daytime.

Light Southern Winter Deer Behavior

The light winters we experience in the deep south don’t really effect where deer go during the daytime.

Deer don’t have to adapt to snow or freezing temps. Plus, most of the time it’s still like 50 degrees.

So a lot of Fall food sources are still fair game during a light winter.

Herd of deer browsing field
Group of deer browsing in field during winter in the South.

This means deer won’t need to switch their core area to stay healthy during the winter.

Harsh Winter Deer Behavior

For those of you that deal with snow on the ground throughout the winter, your winter deer movement probably looks a lot different than in the Fall.

Whitetail bucks bedded in snow
Whitetail bucks bedded in snow.

Acorns will be covered up, deer will be stressed and cold, and food sources will be slim.

But they usually adjust and go to warm areas during the day where they feel safe.

Deer will still venture out to find food. But they won’t be going out as much when compared to milder days.

Final Thoughts

A deer’s life revolves around staying safe, breeding does, and staying healthy.

These 3 things all play a huge part in where deer go during the day.

If the rut is around the corner, bucks will be near does during the day.

If it’s scorching hot, deer will be hiding near the water during the day.

If there is a ton of hunting pressure, deer will be somewhere super thick during the day where they can monitor hunter access.

The best deer hunting advice I can give a new hunter is put yourself in a deer’s shoes and think about its needs.

This will help you better understand where deer go during the day which will make you a better hunter.

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