Bedding Areas
Introduction to Deer Beds

January is the perfect time to walk through your hunting area and find the thick areas where deer bed down. But what if you can’t find or don’t think you have any bedding areas on your piece of hunting ground? Not to worry! We’ll just create it. But let’s backup a minute. If you’re walking around you’re property in February and can’t find any deer beds in the snow, it doesn’t mean the deer don’t bed there during the hunting season when there’s no snow on the ground. Deer change their patterns in pressured areas not long after the season ends, so make sure you do your scouting as close to the end of the season as possible.

Seems like everyone wants the easy way to grow, hold, and take home mature bucks, but the fact is, there is no short cut. Although there are a number of tactics that will help you, each hunting location is different.

Some properties may be situated in such a way that there is no good way to set stands if there is too much bedding on the property.  If you alert deer to your entry, you probably won’t have much success.
On some properties, it might be more important to concentrate on food and travel corridors than bedding.

On the other hand there may be cover-starved farmland in which food becomes much less of a priority, and quality bedding areas and buck beds are in high demand. Also, large tracts of monotonous forest might also benefit from having discrete bedding areas so that you, the hunter, know exactly where the deer are bedding rather than leaving it up to them. As in any quality bedding areas, they need to be screened from the outside, and also need escape and entrance routes. A slight elevation of the bed is great if possible, but not necessary. In cover-starved farmland, any bedding area added that meets the demands of screening cover and privacy will be used.

Great buck beds are not just about the bedding area itself, there are 4 questions you need to ask.

1. Is that bedding area screened from hunter approach?

2. Is that bedding area upwind from human scent?

3. Is that bedding area diverse and screened from within enough to offer multiple beds and room for multiple deer?

4. How does the bedding area relate to the local food sources, stand access, hunter movements, and winds? There is a lot to consider.

There is no easy answer and every part of land management is different from site to site. Also, large tracts of monotonous forest might also benefit from having discrete bedding areas so that you, the hunter, know exactly where the deer are bedding rather than leaving it up to them. But there is a balance, and no right answer for every property.

The more you try to define a common strategy, the more you can get it wrong. There are some common threads that are related to both land management and hunting.

1. Preserve the hotspots. They can literally be ruined in one careless outing. What is a hotspot? It is a center of deer activity. A bedding area, travel corridor, staging area, or food source. But if you ruin that spot with human/hunter disturbance, it’s often done for the year.

2. Eliminate the deficiencies. Does the property need food, cover, buck beds or all three? What type of food or cover? When should the food be planted, when should it be available? How does this relate to hunter pressure and the best time to build a quality deer herd on your parcel?

3. Can you hunt and use the parcel without the deer knowing it is hunting season? Do other local deer know it is hunting season, on your property?

You can’t minimize your role as a hunter/predator on your parcel. There are a several pieces of the puzzle and the key is to fit them all together to make sense for your property. What is a priority for some, may be an absolute waste of time for others. Keep that in mind! And rather than thinking like a predator, try imagining you are the prey, and begin thinking about cover, food and travel corridors as if you knew there was someone trying to eat you for lunch.

You could struggle to assemble the pieces with years of experience and research and eventually get it right if you work hard enough, hunt for years in a variety of situations, and apply what you learn..or you can save yourself years of frustration if you take to heart what you’ll continually learn from Whitetail Ambush Secrets.

Anyways…no easy answer and everything is absolutely site specific. Also, never underestimate your role as a predator in the influence of positive or negative results on your land. As an example of this, think of some of the best spots where you may live that hold monster/mature bucks. A common thread with those spots is no bedding area creation, no magic food plot, no water holes…just undisturbed quality cover where no one is allowed to hunt. Understand what I’m trying to say. Some of the biggest bucks in heavy hunting pressured states live in non-hunting small private parcels along major highways in urban areas and they live there because of 1 thing…no hunters. The answer on your parcel may be to just never hunt it…but as hunters that is obviously not a choice. Never underestimate your role as a hunter and the more you think about that the more you will be on the right path.

Something else to think about is that I hunt on public land the same way I do on private..preserving hot-spots, correct access, multiple potential stand locations, entrances, exits, never spooking deer when I can help it, and of course learning where these hot spots are in the first place. The key is hunting with that same base on private too, prior to anything else, and then enhancing what is appropriate for your parcel to help you to achieve your parcel’s ultimate potential, which may or may not include building deer beds.

Creating buck beds is one strategy that is not talked about or shown on many hunting shows, however it is one of the most effective ways to keep the bucks in your area. If you are able to control where the bucks bed down, then you are able to keep these bucks from getting shot at by your neighbors during the daylight hours of the hunting season. Knowing exactly where bucks bed on your property allows you to put your stands up in an area where the bucks are more likely to go through, to and from their beds.