Spotlighting Deer

button buck at night

Spotlighting deer often brings to mind the unethical practice of shining a bright lamp on deer to blind them long enough to harvest them. This practice is illegal in just about every where you can find whitetail.

But this article will be covering how to spotlight deer legally and how you can do that to take more deer this season. Legally.

When you shock or “spotlight” deer, or expose them to bright lights, they become disoriented and confused in the presence of bright light. This reaction is is hardwired into the deer’s brain and indicates that you are not a threat to him and allow him to approach you.


In Michigan, a person may spotlight deer during daylight hours most of the year (never in November). It is legal to spotlight deer in Ohio also for example. But there are restrictions on what time of day and year spotlighting is allowed. Read your state’s regulations and know what is allowed in your specific area.

Tips To Spotlight Deer

  1. Don’t shine the light directly into the deer. Instead, use it to light up the surrounding area. This allows the deer to see you which is an effective way to get him into your sights.
  2. Try not to make sudden movements when spotlighting a buck. You may have to wait a long time for him to approach you in some cases.
  3. Be very careful at night since it’s harder to see the whole area around you and there is always the potential for a surprise encounter with another hunter who could be spotlighting deer nearby.
  4. It’s best to be a little sneaky and tell your hunting buddy to come with you, so you can cover more ground. Take note of everything you see and exchange notes with your friend.
  5. Start driving just after dark and hit your feed beds. You want to be the first one there and you can use a flashlight if you find yourself upwind from deer.
  6. Find the best vantage point possible; a depression, ridge, or other area elevated above your surroundings. If it is a good spot, watch for deer bedding down or feeding.
  7. You can also use a light inside of your vehicle to spot deer. If you have a tall truck or SUV, try to sit back in the seat so that you’re using its bulk as cover, keep the window rolled down slightly and open just enough to allow you to shine the light out of it without being obvious. You can also turn the light so that it shines in another direction for an even greater impact.

What You Can Learn About Deer By Spotlighting

  1. Deer are more comfortable around artificial lights than natural ones. They also can be moved toward feeders and other food sources by the light.
  2. Buck activity tends to vary from day to night which spotlighting helps highlight this behavior on a consistent basis.
  3. Seeing deer in action is the best way to identify which bucks are which, and see what they’re up to on a daily basis.
  4. Spotlighting deer is a great way to learn how they react to scare tactics or other stimuli that may not be visible during hunting season.
  5. Spotlighting deer helps you determine whether or not they are eating, drinking, moving, or doing something more specific like feeding on acorns at night when their normal diets aren’t available.
  6. Spotlighting deer in the summer can provide you with a better idea of what they are doing during the warmer months. Cross reference with behavior you see during the fall and winter. Understand how their behavior evolves over the course of the year.
  7. Spotlighting deer at feeding stations or near hay bales will give you new insights into their eating habits.
  8. Spotlighting deer can help you learn more about rutting behavior or how they respond to other stimuli like dogs, sirens, or other sounds.


Learn how to spotlight deer legally and learn all the deer activity you can. You will have a great harvest this season and the best part about it is that your harvest will be ethical and legal.

Written by Fred

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