In his articles, the late Bowhunting World contributor Jeff Murray cautioned about the dangers of hunting bedding areas. Bedded deer, he said, are wary critters extremely difficult to approach undetected. But when the deer weren't moving, Murray said that a bowhunter might have to close in. After all, this is where the deer are during hunting hours. A deer bedded down for the day practically eliminates blind or treestand hunting. No sense sitting around waiting for a call when the phone isn't going to ring. Here is Murray's advice for closing in.
1. Know What Deer Seek
Keep in mind that deer intuitively seek out specific terrain that enhances their ability to use their keen sense of smell (where wind and thermals catch wafting scents), eyesight (typically near or behind an obstruction such as a fallen log, tall grass or a dip in the landscape), and ears (within thick cover that makes approaching predators “sound off”).
2. Locate The Beds
During scouting, look for cover. Bucks generally prefer thicker stuff than does. Does like a room with a view; their matriarchal instinct of watching out for their young dominates their lives. Bucks, meanwhile, just like to hide and almost always bed at slightly higher elevations than does; their mindset is survival.
To find them, you can backtrack established preferred food sources, such as open fields and croplands or masts within forested tracts. Look for compressed depressions on the ground. A good buck's bed should measure 45 to 50 inches or more. If you bump the very animal you want to hunt, chances are a buck won't relocate from a single bump.
3. Identify Travel Corridors
Know where the beds are in relation to food sources and the travel corridors connecting the two. For example, if bucks switches beds between Week 1 and Week 2, we might need to switch stands to hunt travel corridors. Many hunters overlook this subtlety, and end up wondering where all the deer went. When you realize that a buck's bedroom serves as the hub of his activity center, or core area, it's easy to see how we can end up hunting the wrong spoke.
4. Factor In The Wind
Bucks will abandon one location for another the instant the wind is no longer their ally. Whitetails prefer to face thick cover with the wind at their back so they can monitor potential danger with their eyes and ears simultaneously.
5. Use A Topographical Map
By visualizing how the wind blows across the lay of the land, you can get a good feel for where bucks are and how they're likely to rotate bedding locations. For instance, if the wind is out of the west and a patch of cover runs east-west, expect most deer to be facing east. That orientation, in turn, should help micro-adjust specific spots even with a sudden wind reversal.
Once you locate bedding area fringes, be sure to hunt them with utmost stealth. Plan your entrance/exit routes carefully, and prepare for an all-day vigil.