Despite what many hunters believe, deer don’t sleep for long periods at night. Instead, they snooze in short bursts to keep on guard and ensure they can sense threats when they’re nearby. These deer often choose secluded spots such as a thicket of pines or beneath the low branches of an oak tree, where they can be more concealed from predators.
When a deer does snooze, they tend to close their eyes for 30-second to 3-minute increments, scanning their surroundings before reopening their eyes and resuming their rest. During these brief moments, their ears will twitch to help them stay alert. They may even jerk their head back and forth to confuse any potential predators trying to sniff them out.
While they may have a general idea of where to bed down, they are creatures of habit and will return to the same spot for multiple sleep sessions. Their bedding areas vary based on the season, hunting pressure and birth stages. They also prefer places with plenty of cover, food and water sources, and easy escape exits from any danger.
Generally speaking, deer will bury themselves in brush piles or in the thicket of a forest or in fields. In winter, they may choose to hide under a thick stand of snow that serves as a makeshift roof for warmth. Regardless of the time of year, they will generally avoid open areas where they can easily be seen by any potential predators or hunters.