Preventing Bucks From Going Nocturnal

Keith R. from Alabama writes to ask about the bucks on his 480-acre lease. It seems he and his group saw some good 140-plus class bucks before the season opened, but after hunting started, they just saw sign. “How can we keep these bucks from going nocturnal on us?” he asks.

Keith, I do not know how much pressure you put on your bucks during hunting season, and I also don’t know about the habitat on your lease. So, let me just make some general comments that may or may not apply.

Dr. Dave Samuel

First, if you do not have some major sanctuary cover in the middle of the lease, I’d suggest creating that. Two or three plots of 20 acres to 30 acres of the thickest habitat you can create are what you want. You might need to clear-cut it, plant some thick pines, etc. to create these sanctuaries … but they will attract and hold big bucks — especially during hunting season.

But, make them true sanctuaries. Do not enter them ever, except to follow a wounded deer. Build them and they will come … and stay away.

I’m not sure why you were only able to take two does off the lease, but that needs to be resolved. To get more big bucks, you need to “hammer” adult does, do not (under any circumstance except for small children) shoot any small bucks, and do not shoot any fawns because half of them are bucks.

If you do not have some good food plots on the lease, you should create some. For 480 acres, 10, five-acre plots would be great. That should get some does into areas where you can harvest them.

You asked how commercial deer lodges control the pressure to keep bucks moving during daylight. Some utilize a lot of bowhunting that does not cause deer to go nocturnal as much as gun hunting does. And the ones I’ve hunted keep pressure low by rotating the stands hunted. Hunt stands one week, and let them sit empty the next two weeks. In other words, they do control the hunting pressure.

Good luck with your lease and thanks for writing.

Dr. Dave

For a fine selection of Big Game Hunting gear, click here.

Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.



Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.