What Is Deer Spotting? (Is it Legal?)

Author: Jacob Smith
Published on:

One of my favorite fall activities as a child in the small village of Sigel was loading up the family car for an evening of deer-spotting. In anticipation of our hunt for whitetail deer, we would gather blankets, cider or hot chocolate, and a few munchies to savor while we bounced down the rural roads of Northern Jefferson County. Do you know what is deer spotting?

Deer spotting is the act of shining a light onto a property to look for deer at night. Hunters spot deer at night to pinpoint where a specific buck is. Deer typically emerge from the woods at night to forage in fields and open spaces. There are few situations where deer spotting is prohibited making it illegal.

What is deer spotting?

Deer are masters at fitting into their surroundings. They have also been referred to as the “grey ghost” due to their propensity to avoid capture.

This year, locating deer before they are under your stand is crucial if you want to harvest one. That is why you need to know what deer spotting is and how can you do it.

Spotting for deer is a rather straightforward process, even if you are unfamiliar with the phrase. All you need is a car, a flashlight, a pair of binoculars, and an eagerness to explore. Then go travel the rural roads to see what animals you can encounter.

Whitetail deer, particularly adult bucks, prefer to migrate during the night or close to its margins, with the majority of their activity during the day taking place in dense foliage. This makes observing, scouting, and finding mature bucks during the daytime very challenging.

This can be helped by a spotlight since it enables hunters to see and find deer in the open during the after-dark hours when they feel most at ease.

You can identify a buck’s feeding location, possible route there, and potential sleeping location using these sightings and local information.

Back then, spotlights were quite simple devices that consisted just of a light in a container that closely resembled a soup pan, along with a cord that plugged into the cigarette lighter of a car and an on/off button.

Rechargeable lights with a million candles per second are now available. There are a few fundamental laws that you must remember.

It’s against the law to shine artificial light on a structure, a farm animal, or a photovoltaic cell.

Between sunset and 11 p.m., recreational spotlighting is permitted, with the exception of the regularly scheduled statewide antlerless and antlered rifle deer season.

What does spotting mean in hunting?

Glassing is the practice of spending a lot of time at vantage points while using binoculars or spotting scopes to observe game from a distance. You stalk the game after it is discovered.

What happens when you spotlight a deer?

A spotlight can aid in spotting deer by allowing hunters to observe and locate deer out in the open during the after-dark hours when they feel most comfortable. You can identify where a buck is feeding, how he might be getting there, and possibly where he’s sleeping with the use of these sightings.

What to do when you spot a deer?

If you see a deer, brake firmly and calmly, and stay in your lane. Swerving could result in you losing control of your car and making an already terrible scenario even worse. Not to add that deer might change their course at any time, so you never know when they’ll cross your path.

When should you use a spotting scope for hunting?

If you’re hunting large game out West or in wide-open areas, spotting scopes are great for setting up and getting a long-distance shot in. A pair of excellent binoculars will better meet their demands if they are hunting in wooded or constrained areas or if they are spot and stalking, which takes greater mobility on the hunter’s side.

Does a spotlight scare deer?

There have been many times we’ve seen deer up ahead when using the light and it helped us avoid spooking them. We just stop and wait for them to walk around them or move on. Without the light, we would have accidentally approached the deer and perhaps startled them.

Will a flashlight spook deer?

Deer don’t get spooked by the flashlight. I always walk in with a white light. If I’m in an area where I know there are deer, I keep the light on until I sit down and can move no more, at which point I switch it off. I haven’t yet received a blow from a deer while doing this.

Is it illegal to spotlight deer without a gun in Virginia?

The simple act of shining a light into an area occupied by deer is a crime in Virginia, unless you have written permission from the land-owner and do not have a weapon in the vehicle at the time.

Final Thoughts

Deer spotting means hunting deer at night with a flashlight.

An expert in deer hunting with 10 years of experience in the field and woods. Certified as a hunter by the State of California. I created Deer Hunting Life as my personal blog to share my experience and tips on deer hunting.