Doe and Buck Bedding Areas: Small Parcel Habitat

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Video how to find doe bedding areas

*Make sure to check out my whitetail book series including, “Whitetail Success By Design” and “Food Plot Success By Design”, to help you find mature bucks this hunting season!

Where you create buck bedding opportunity on the land you hunt, will ultimately determine the level of success for your small parcel design. Where are the bucks bedding on the land that you hunt? Is there even room for both bucks and does on your land? It may sound very confusing at first, but when you allow food to define where deer choose to bed, the entire process becomes a whole lot easier. Whether you are creating your own small parcel paradise or finding your next public land hotspot, these concepts will guide you to understanding deer bedding behavior.

Doe and Buck Bedding: Food Defined Bedding

The year was 1991. When four hunting buddies – barely out of their teens – set out for a late-season bowhunt in a remote cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was almost inevitable that mishaps, adventures, and hunting lessons were sure to follow! How about the time when one of us couldn’t draw his bow because that 80-pound draw weight, which felt fine in August, didn’t quite feel the same during the single digit temps in December? Or what about a vehicle breakdown during a New Year’s Eve of various adventures that led to extensive repairs, empty wallets, and the need to stalk snowshoe hares for food the next few days? There was also the ditch-bound 360 degree spin on I-75 Southbound with a trailer in tow, as well as the frozen “deercicles” stacked like cordwood in the bed of the pickup, after many more days on the deer pole than expected. Limited funds, inexpensive equipment, and a whole lot of stubbornness, fueled by the inexperience of youth; all shared with more laughs than we deserved with the mishaps that we created. Those were indeed the good old days…and we didn’t even know it.

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Our simple tactic during those late-season hunts was to locate a solid covering of deer tracks in the public land deer yards, clearcuts, or open hardwoods. The next step was to hang a treestand on the downwind side of the movement and settle in for an afternoon sit. When the deer had been forced into the cedars due to heavy December snows, we really had a lot of fun, sometimes seeing a dozen or more deer in an area that rarely offered an individual deer sighting!

While hunting for dinner on old snow, following our New Year’s Eve adventure, we learned a lesson that will last a lifetime. As we crossed through the hard and frozen covering, through the open hardwoods with shotguns in hand, we neared the stand of cedars that we hoped would offer a snowshoe hare or two. We passed into the edge of the conifer as we moved through the dark timber and towards the distant clearcut of young aspen. As we brushed through a small layer of young balsam fir and stepped onto a small knoll about 50 yards from the clearcut, I still remember the “wow” factor of seeing a solid covering of old deer beds covering an area the size of a large living room. My hunting buddy, Dave, was the first to offer the one major clue as to why so many deer had chosen to bed in such tight quarters. the bed was located near a hunting camp’s bait pile! Approximately 200 yards away was one of the most active hunting blind locations, complete with ATV access.

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What we discovered that day so long ago was a simple truth that has been repeated consistently over many years: find the food and you’ll find the doe family group daytime bedding location. Those doe family groups bedded within earshot of the hunter who entered and exited that particular blind location. Consequently, it was easy to understand why deer were seen only right before dark, if at all.

For over 20 years I have found this simple truth to be one of the most consistent conditions in the whitetail woods. While using food to locate doe family groups, planning for and hunting for mature bucks has become an extremely predictable process. Please follow along as I describe how using your food plots to locate doe family groups is critical for making your parcel not only efficient and easier to hunt, but also more attractive for an appropriate level of mature buck bedding.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>