Skip to Content

Do Deer Eat At Night or Day? (7 Things To Know)

Sharing is caring!

Deer can eat during the day or at night. However, considering they are prey animals, they have adopted feeding patterns that aid them in evading predators and hunters.

In this article, you will learn about deer eating patterns, the type of plants they eat at night or during the day, and when they prefer feeding.

You will also get to know the times that deer come out during the night and in the morning. Ready, let us begin.

Night Vs Day: When is more preferable for deer to eat?

deer wondering what to eat at night

To comprehensively answer the above question, we need to look at the eating patterns of deer.

Deer are crepuscular animals, which means they are more active at daybreak and dawn. The deer’s eyes enable them to see clearly during such times since they absorb large amounts of light.

On the other hand, many deer predators can’t see well in these hours.

Hence, deer come out and eat at daybreak, considering they are ruminants; deer can take one to four hours to fill their first stomach.

Afterward, they go to bed and ruminate (regurgitating and chewing what they took in earlier).

The deer will then sleep for a few hours and come out again to feed. Once they are satisfied, the deer will head back to hiding and sleep, waiting for dusk.

During the day, there are plenty of predators moving around; thus, deer spend most of the daytime sleeping and hiding.

Nevertheless, once night sets in, most deer come out and are more active until about midnight.

Deer prefer eating at night as it offers them more safety from predators. Moreover, their highly developed sense of smell and hearing can quickly pick out a potential threat at night.

Proof of deer eating at night

No wonder in areas where deer are dominant, homeowners will awake and find that a deer herd has feasted on their yards or gardens for pumpkins, soybeans, and peanut butter.

Many people in these areas attest that most garden invasions by deer occur at night compared to daytime.

Do deer eat plants at night?

As earlier stated, deer eat all kinds of plants like cabbages & carrots, sometimes grasses at night. Thus, if you have a garden and are afraid a deer herd will invade it at night, you should take measures to protect it.

These measures may include

  •  Fencing
  •  Growing plants that are deer resistant.

Do deer like to eat when they are feeling sleepy?

Deer are ruminants; they have four stomachs. Thus, a buck will first eat to fill its rumen (the first stomach).

The deer will then relax and regurgitate the food, moving it to the next digestion step.

It is worth noting that deer can only ruminate while relaxed. All the while, the deer has to stay alert for any potential threats; they even stay alert while sleeping.

Thus, we can conclude that deer like eating when they feel sleepy, for that is when they have enough time for rumination.

Do deer eat at night during a full moon?

what research says about feeding deer on full moon

For humans, a full moon affects us differently; some people say they don’t sleep well during the full moon. While on the other hand, some state they are snappier.

Does a full moon affect deer feeding? Yes, deer eat at night during a full moon; what differs, however, is the extent.

For a long time now, hunters have believed it futile to go deer hunting during the full moon since deer will have spent more time feeding at night.

This belief got even more entrenched after Markus Lashley published his findings on deer activity.

While undertaking his graduate degree at North Carolina state university, Marcus compared deer movement by looking at deer sighting records.

After analyzing over 2400 deer sighting records, Marcus noted that daytime deer activity was lowest during a full moon.

He stated the reason was mainly that the deer had spent more time eating at night. Thus, they spent a significant part of the day sleeping.

Do deer eat night-blooming Jasmine?

If you live in an area where deer are present and have a garden, you must know the plants that deer will or will not eat.

Deer are not fussy eaters; in fact, deer are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat anything readily available.

However, deer do not eat night-blooming jasmine and many other types of jasmine.

Bucks avoid night-blooming jasmine (Centrum noncturnum) because of its relatively strong smell and flavor.

Moreover, night-blooming jasmine is one of the few jasmine species (there are over 200) that are poisonous to deer.

Even so, during times of extreme hunger, which is mostly during winter, deer may occasionally nibble on night-blooming jasmine.

What time do deer come out at night & morning?

On average, deer tend to come out at night from 5:00 to 7:00 pm and very early between 6 am and 8 am.

You may also spot some bucks coming out between 9:00 and 10:00 am, though chances of such occurrences are pretty low.

Dr.Mickey Hellickson, a leading biologist, carried out a comprehensive study to determine the exact time deer move in the daytime and at night.

Hellickson collared 45 bucks and used them for the study. With the aid of activity monitors, Hellickson recorded the deer’s activities from October to January for two years.

From his findings, Hellickson reported deer movement was highest during the day from 6:30 to 8:30 am and at night from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

It is worth noting that deer will not strictly follow the above-stated times. The reason being some factors may force them to come out earlier or later than usual.

These factors include


Deer have an inborn characteristic of being overly cautious. Hence when there is little pressure from hunters and predators, bucks will sleep longer and come out later. The inverse is true.


When the temperatures are low like during winter, deer will come out earlier and forage for longer hours. Which in turn will make them sleep at late hours.


During a full moon, bucks spend more time feeding at night. Thus, they will sleep longer and come out later than expected.

Conclusion: Do deer like night or day?

Without a doubt, deer prefer the night to the day. Mainly because during the night

  • There are fewer predators
  • Deer have a more enhanced vision
  • The bucks sense of smell is at an optimum level
  • Deer can move more quietly

So if you want to take care of these beautiful creatures by giving them a treat, try feeding them at night and they’ll enjoy it.

In addition, during the day, predators can easily spot them. Deer like to forage in open areas. Hence, the darkness offers them some protection.

Sharing is caring!