In the winter, deer spend much of their time hunkered down on south-facing slopes in bedding areas with good browse and cover from the wind. The area should also be close to water and food sources. Because deer are wary of predators, the site should provide camouflage and offer easy escape routes in case a predator appears. A basic deer bed is made of tall grass, twigs, brush/shrubs, and tree shades.
Although deer significantly reduce their activity and sleep a lot during the extreme cold season, they don’t hibernate. Growing a thicker coat, putting on body fat, and slowing their metabolism help them survive the frigid temperatures. However, they still need a warm and safe place to sleep.
Deer are hard-wired to prioritize survival, so they choose the most secluded and protected spots for a snooze. They also prefer short bursts of rest to long periods of slumber, as the former ensures that they are more alert in case an impending threat emerges.
Before the season starts, walk your property and look for signs of deer beds. When the snow melts and the woods thaw in spring, go back out to re-scout the sites that you marked with rubs and scrapes. Do your best to not disturb any deer while you’re scouting, as bumping or disturbing a deer in its bed could disrupt its winter routine and cause it to seek out other bedding areas. If you’re able to find bedding areas that meet the criteria, they may present the perfect spot for setting up your deer stand.