I am very particular about my bed. The softness, the covers, the pillows, the temperature. The same can be said about the whitetail deer. The bedding habits of the deer are very particular as well. As I have stated before as deer age they retain knowledge over their years and become smarter. You can teach an old deer new tricks apparently. As a deer ages its list of requirements for a bedding area might increase; like that of a pop stars dressing room requirements.
Deer require cover, yet not too much or too little. A backing perhaps with good visual on most sides. This can be found by fallen trees or in overgrown brush. They want to not be seen by the naked eye, but if their visual line of sight is limited they need to be able to hear a predator or hunter coming their way. This pertains more to the bush and overgrown areas. It is nearly impossible to sneak up on someone or something if they are laying in the brush. Also, you might step right around then and never know it, as I have done in the past.
An area that is not 100% open to the elements is also key. Wind protection is a highly desirable request for overnight deer bedding areas. However during the day if they are just taking a siesta then 100% wind protection may not be needed. Case in point is the small 1st year buck who decided to take a nap in my yard this past weekend. His back was protected by some shrubbery and my shepherds hook. His entire front though was open. I know this because when my daughter yelled in the house at the movie he would perk up and look at us.
So they want partial cover and wind protection. They want some place that they feel secure and safe and can easily escape as well. Just in case a predator, hunter, or per Saturdays events a toddler, decide to venture upon them.
The key thing with hunting is trying to find a bedding location, without giving away your location. Creatures of habit, as deer are, will continuously return to a safe bedding location if not discovered or destroyed. This means that unless you know of a prime bedding location your best bet of finding one is during the off season or during a woods push. With the off season locating of bedding areas, you need to start looking for sheds. Once you have found low lying bones on the ground, aka deer antler sheds, you want to check your surroundings. Is there a well-worn area? Does it look like a deer was there regularly? If yes, then woo hoo you have found a bedding area of a buck. If not don’t despair, you are still in a prime location and need to make a mental note of it.
The other time you find bedding areas is during a woods push. As you walk through the woods, bush, fields, you make jump a deer. The location if in the open is more of a siesta location. However jumping a lying deer in the woods means this might be a more permanent bedding location. These are the spots again that you want to take note of. Location, cover, protection. Can you get here from your stand or trail? If so, I would set up shop at that location in a few days after the push has calmed down and the deer have returned.
One thing I hate to do is to rewrite articles. I see that all the time, someone just says the same thing that another person posted a few days ago. So, here and here are some bedding area hunting articles that I found useful. Also, if you want to help create a warm and cozy bedding area for deer I would check out this and this.
Again, with my posts I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel of whitetail deer hunting. I am just trying to throw at you some thoughts you may not have considered in your day to day hunting rituals and life.