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  • Writer's pictureGreg Kazmierski

The Beginner's Guide to Identifying, Creating, and Hunting Deer Bedding Areas


A whitetail doe beds in a shaded area

Deer bedding areas are specific locations deer will sleep within a certain habitat type. A deer bedding area can vary in both size and characteristics depending on where you are hunting and whether you are talking doe bedding areas or buck bedding areas.


As you can probably imagine, there are many different sub topics that can be covered in great detail when talking about bedding areas. Today, we are going to keep things at a high level to help you better understand three things:


  1. How to identify a doe bedding area or a buck bedding area

  2. How to create bedding areas on your hunting property

  3. Tips for hunting bedding areas



What Areas Do Deer Like to Bed In?


While the answer to this question depends on where you live, there are generally two places I always look when trying to locate where the deer are bedding on a property.


South and Southwest Facing Slopes


Deer tend to bed on south and southwest facing slopes due to the exposure of sunlight. South and southwest slopes receive more sunlight than other directional slopes throughout the day which will help deer regulate their body temperature.

deer bedding areas on south facing slopes

Near Major Food Sources


Deer will also bed in close proximity to a food source that will be their final destination in the evening. Depending on where you are located, destination food sources can be things like agricultural fields, food plots, or mast-producing trees.


When deer feel secure, they will bed closer to these destination food sources to avoid wasting unnecessary energy traveling back and forth from bed to food.


What is the Best Bedding Habitat for Deer?

Just like the areas changes for deer beds based on your location, so does the habitat. The best way to learn about the preferred habitat of deer beds in your area is spending some time outside of hunting season scouting and looking for beds.


Farm Country


In farm country there is generally a limited amount of trees. In these locations deer will bed in the thick cover of the open areas. Grass fields, fence rows, and old field new growth are all common thick areas in farm country that frequently house deer.

a whitetail fawn using a bedding area

Hill Country


Contrary to farm country, buck beds and doe beds in the hills come with more of a view. Learning to read a topographic map can go a long way when identifying bedding locations in the hills. Certain terrain features such as points and benches are common locations for deer to sleep in the hills.


Big Timber


Big timber bedding is extremely hard to narrow down as these deer are often more nomadic, traveling greater distances more often. These big timber areas often have a lower deer density with food a lot more spread out, so deer will often travel between different areas of the timber every couple of days.


Blow downs, clear cuts, and other timber cuttings are all common locations to find deer bedding in big timber.


Do Deer Always Use the Same Bedding Area?


While deer may have a preferred bedding area, they will not bed in the same location every day. As I mentioned above, factors such as deer density, human intrusion, and food density all play a role in how often a deer will switch where they bed.


How Do You Make a Good Bedding Area for Deer?


One of the best things about owning your own piece of hunting property is having the ability to manipulate the habitat to attract more deer and present better hunting opportunities. At Whitetail Partners, we work with landowners to develop habitat plans for their properties that cover all of the necessary elements of a whitetail's habitat.


Two of the things we always take into consideration when creating bedding areas are location and natural characteristics.


Location


Location of your bedding areas is key. When you have the ability to control factors such as hunting pressure, your goal should be to provide deer with an adequate amount of cover close to your destination food source. This will promote a low stress environment, making the deer feel more comfortable spending time on your property.


Another thing to note when choosing the location is your hunter access routes. I like to focus my beds away from where I will be accessing my stand and blind locations to reduce my impact while hunting the property. You never want to intersect a deer traveling from bed to food while you are entering or exiting your stand.


Natural Characteristics


Understanding what types of features deer like to bed in naturally where your property is located will help you recreate bedding areas on your property that deer will actually use. This is another useful thing you can pull from boots on the ground scouting. Once I find these areas, I like to continuously ask myself the what and why and take those notes back to replicate what I saw.


What is the Best Time of Day to Hunt Deer Bedding Areas?


Hunting deer beds can be a high risk/high reward scenario. The risk while hunting these areas should always be taken into consideration before going into the woods.


If I plan on hunting buck bedding areas, I like to do so in the early season when the bucks are on a more consistent pattern from their core area that holds their buck beds to one of their few preferred food sources. I will generally hunt a buck bed in the evening trying to intersect the buck as he leaves his bed and heads to the food source.


I like to hunt doe bedding during the whitetail rut. Typically around the first week of November can be some of the best times to hunt these locations. My goal for my setups around doe bedding is to hunting on the downwind side in hopes of catching a buck cruising the area scent checking the doe family group who frequents the location. Late morning can be a wonderful time to hunt these locations.


Conclusion


Spending enough time outside of hunting season learning the area that you hunt is arguably the best thing you can do to help you learn how to identify these bedding areas. Once you feel comfortable identifying, you can then implement areas with similar characteristics on your land and hunt them when the timing is right.


If you are interested in learning more about whitetails you can head over to our learning center where we have a ton of articles, podcasts, and videos on all things whitetail habitat and hunting. You can also reach out to us here if you are interested in working with one of our regional consultants.

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