How one hunter locates and creates bedding areas for deer

Once you understand how deer choose their bedding areas, you can locate them and even create them. It’s a reliable strategy for hunters who are willing to put in the scouting time.

How one hunter locates and creates bedding areas for deer

If a hunter finds a deer bed while scouting, it’s like finding a roadmap to how he’ll hunt an area. So much goes into why a buck beds where he beds — the topography, side cover, entrance and exit.

Here are tips on:

  • How to locate where a deer sleeps
  • How to create bedding areas to attract deer

How to Locate bedding areas

Summer beds are important for gathering information about your deer herd. Knowing where bucks like to bed and understanding why they crash where they do, helps hunters pattern deer movement.

Bucks typically start switching from fall/winter beds to spring/summer beds with the spring green-up. During the dog days of summer, bucks tend to bed in open areas where they can catch a cool breeze and keep the bugs off. If you hunt thick timber with limited open space, chances are your bucks have moved elsewhere for summer.

Related: Where do deer sleep?

As the bucks start to shift into their fall/winter ranges, usually once velvet has been stripped, bedding areas begin to change. Bucks start seeking cover. They choose beds based on security needs, while does tend to bed near available food sources.

When it comes to a buck’s fall bed, keep three important factors in mind:

  1. High ground
  2. Side cover
  3. Easy entrance/exit.

If, while scouting a property, you find a mound or hill accompanied by good cover and easy entrance/exit access, it almost always has a bed on it.

Editor’s Note: I spent a spring day scouting some new Nebraska woods with the author. On three separate occasions — from a distance, no less — he pointed out slight rises in the landscapes. Each of the three held at least one buck bed. Each bed was filled with white belly hair, and each had an easy entrance/exit route. When we sat down and studied the area via a topo map, we were able to use the buck beds to predict fall movement patterns. It was one of the most intriguing and informative days I’ve ever spent in the woods.

How to creating bedding areas

When setting up a property with buck and doe beds, correlating them to travel routes and food plots can increase the odds of a more successful hunt. By hinge-cutting trees, you can place the bedding areas where you want them, making it possible to hang treestands on the deer’s travel routes in a place that will not bump the food source or the bedding area upon entry and exit.

First, locate a high point. It doesn’t have to be much — a ridge, mound or hill. Once you’ve located the high point, hinge-cut a tree parallel to the mound to create side cover. (Hinge-cutting is cutting a tree ½ to ¾ of the way through and then letting it fall.) Doing so keeps the tree alive, giving the buck not only more security, but also food.

Related: How to hinge-cut trees to enhance deer habitat

Next, make a flat spot with a shovel. Go up underneath the hinge-cut — close to the base of the tree — and clear all debris, creating the flat, bedding spot.

Cedar trees make nice bedding areas. They are aromatic, and the deer love them. There is one important difference with a cedar: don’t hinge-cut it. Simply remove the low-lying branches on one side (you want to leave the back side for cover) and leave a canopy above them. To sweeten the pot, I find a 4-foot-long log that is no less than 16 inches in diameter and set it against the trunk of the cedar. This gives the buck something to lean a good chunk of his body against.

Other Resources

Related: Six ways to improve bedding areas for deer

Related: Hunting whitetail deer in the rain

Related: Year-round scouting plan for your trail cam


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