John's Journal...

How to Hunt When Deer Become Nocturnal

Day 2: How and When to Hunt a Deer Sanctuary

Editor’s Note: Ronnie Groom of Panama City, Florida, has been one of the foremost deer hunters of our day for the past 30 years. Groom, a well-rounded deer hunter, participates in bowhunting, primitive weapon hunting and gun hunting. Groom was consulted for this article, because he hunts deer in several states – on public and private lands – where the hunting pressure is both heavy and light.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewOnce you discover a deer sanctuary, more than likely, you shouldn’t hunt it that same season. If you go into the area, you will run the deer out of it. But instead, mark sanctuaries on a map, so that you can return to them prior to the beginning of the next hunting season. Before deer season ever begins – when the whitetails aren’t using the sanctuaries – I travel to these hideouts and lay out a game plan. I decide which way I can approach the sanctuary, travel into the region and choose a stand site. If it is an area with heavy cover, I go ahead and cut shooting lanes, so that I can see to take a buck when hunting season begins. Also I consult my compass to know what wind direction I must have to approach the sanctuary without having my scent carried into the hunting zone there. And, I lay-out a definite hunt plan. I usually will prepare eight to ten sanctuaries to be hunted when the time is right – when the deer become nocturnal. Then I leave these places alone and don’t return until I’m prepared to take a buck.

When to Hunt a Sanctuary:

Knowing when to hunt the deer sanctuaries is the most-critical ingredient for bagging nocturnal bucks. I realize that I may only have 1 or 2 days during the hunting season when I can hunt the sanctuaries I have prepared. But I never will go to one of these hideouts, until all of the conditions are right. I never hunt these spots during the first of hunting season. Using this technique of hunting, the sportsman allows hunting pressure to work for him, rather than against him. I want the hunting pressure to build-up in the regions around my sanctuaries. Therefore I wait until near the end of the season before I try to hunt these sanctuaries.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewWhen the deer become nocturnal, they will move during daylight hours in the sanctuaries. Late in the season when hunting pressure is high, I watch the wind. When the wind is right, so that I can go to one of my sanctuaries, I slip into the area before daylight and wait for the buck to appear. Once I hunt a sanctuary, I won’t return to that same spot for at least a week or two. I realize that if I hunt this site too much, then I will run the deer out and won’t have a chance to harvest the bucks, which is why I develop several stands in sanctuary areas before the season. Then I have a couple of places to hunt with the wind coming from different directions.

To get “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” and “Deer and Fixings” by John E. Phillips, go to, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Why Hunt the Feeding Areas for Deer

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Hunt When Deer Become Nocturnal"

Day 1: How to Find a Deer Sanctuary
Day 2: How and When to Hunt a Deer Sanctuary
Day 3: Why Hunt the Feeding Areas for Deer
Day 4: Why Hunt Nocturnal Deer in the Mornings and How to Hunt the High Noon Bucks
Day 5: What Hunting Tactics Take Nocturnal Deer

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Entry 700, Day 2