Where Do Deer Sleep in the Winter?

November 8, 2023

Unlike bats, bears and box turtles, deer do not hibernate over the winter. They instead fatten up in the fall and grow a thicker coat to better insulate their bodies during the cold months. Deer are also able to slow their metabolism, which helps conserve energy.

Regardless of season, though, the place where deer sleep depends on two things: security and weather conditions. Security is a major factor because a deer will not lie down to rest if it feels threatened or vulnerable. Deer bedding areas are typically located in the core of their home range where they feel most secure and protected from both animal and human threats. Deer will look for locations that have adequate cover and vantage points for spotting approaching predators.

Daytime bedding areas are most often found on south facing slopes and within evergreen thickets. Both of these features allow a deer to soak up the sun's warmth during the day and offer protection from strong winds during the winter.

When a deer is ready to go to bed, it will typically position itself with its back legs tucked under it, its front leg(s) extended and its head in a cat-like posture. Throughout the process of settling down to sleep, a deer will twist and assume multiple positions as it drifts into a deep slumber. This behavior is designed to help the deer retain body heat and prevent a predator from sensing its vulnerability.

While a deer is sleeping, it will still be aware of its surroundings and can sense potential predators. If a deer feels an approaching predator, it will quickly wake up. It will then reposition itself in preparation for a fight or flight response.


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