As anyone who’s ever jumped a bedded deer or studied the habits of whitetail bucks will tell you, sleep is crucial for all species of animals. However, different species require varying amounts of sleep. Predators can afford to fall into deep slumber, but prey species like deer need a lighter kind of rest that allows them to remain alert to threats even while sleeping.
In other words, they need to slumber in places that provide a mix of protection, camouflage and easy escape exits. In the case of deer, these bedding areas often include trees and brush with dense cover that shields them from sight while simultaneously providing a sound barrier that helps them block out loud noises such as footsteps and grunting that might give away their location to predators.
When a deer does lie down to sleep, it’s not as you might expect. For one, they never actually fall into a true state of deep slumber. Instead, they “doze” in short bouts that last for 30 seconds to a couple of minutes at a time.
During this period of rest, their eyes will alternately open and close and their ears will twitch. If they wake up, they’ll start a new cycle of dozing and wakefulness until their next nap cycle begins.
Deer are creatures of habit and once they find a bedding area that provides all the elements for a good night’s rest, they’ll return to it each night. This is why it’s so important for hunters to create and maintain quality deer bedding areas on their property.