QUESTION: I recently bought a new feeder with four programmable time settings telling it when to go off. I'm currently only using two: 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. My goal is to capture daylight photos of the deer. Are those the best feeding times to get the daylight pictures? It not, what times do you suggest? - Mark B.
ANSWER: Yes, those are pretty good times to set your feeder both for photos and, if it's legal where you live, hunting. However, they're not optimal.
Biologically, deer are considered crepuscular, which means they are most active around dawn and dusk.
Several factors influence whether deer activity increases or decreases in relation to the amount of daylight deer will tolerate in the open.
Hunting pressure, or any elevated human activity, will result in deer being more nocturnal.
Deer also seem more at ease after dusk and before dawn, and they move more in the middle of the night than in the middle of the day.
If your goal is strictly photos, you could set your feeder to go off earlier in the morning and later in the evening.
Deer will naturally be more active at these times and thus, more inclined to visit the feeders, particularly once they've become conditioned to them.
If, however, you want daylight photos or plan on hunting over your feeders, I suggest setting them to go off within 60 to 90 minutes after sunup and again, 60 to 90 minutes before sundown. This will give you the best compromise between having sufficient daylight and taking advantage of natural deer movement.