It is a wonderful feeling to curl up in a comfortable bed for a nice nap, a sentiment that holds true for humans and cervids alike. Though it may seem less important to take note of locations where deer bed down in comparison to food plots, fresh rubs, or heavily travelled paths, paying attention to where deer get their shuteye can provide tremendous insight. Depending in the freshness of beds, they can give clues as to the movement of deer your property. The specific type of bed you find can provide you with even more detail about the whitetail you're seeking. Here's how:
Photo: LA Sportsman
Beds that are found in areas close to food sources are night beds. These beds will usually exist in various numbers, shapes, and sizes and can be found near crops, clearings, and food plots. It is here that deer tend to gather at night. From a hunter's perspective, it is near to such beds that you may wish to start your morning hunt.
Photo: Ski Epic
Near to night beds, doe beds are typically found. Since does tend to bed down with younger deer including fawns, they opt to seek cover. It should be obvious by a large section of depressed foliage that a doe is present along with smaller sections of depressed foliage for smaller, younger deer. If searching outward from a night bed, a doe bed can generally found in nearby cover. Since the ladies like things nice and tidy, these beds tend to be clean and free of odor. Bodily evacuations will take place nearby but not too close to the bedding area itself. Similarly concealed but located a little further from night beds will be areas where the bachelors get their rest. These can be differentiated from doe beds by taking into consideration the terrain; both will be under cover but bachelors tend to take up residence on rougher terrain or in marshy areas.
Photo: Tommy Kirkland Photography
Locating a buck bed depends largely on rut. Prior to rut, bucks seek isolation, seclusion, and heavy cover. This is usually in a hollow or thicket that is conveniently sized for a guy living the single life. Large bucks tend to claim such pads, transforming them into a man cave by rubbing on whatever they so desire and leaving droppings where they fall, up to and including in their bed. As rut begins, however, bucks relocate and move closer to areas where does bed down. This is something you, too, should consider, positioning yourself downwind to wait for that big buck to amble past. After the rut ends, deer tend to remain separated by sex although they do bed closer to one another then than at other times of year. At this time they can be found in winter beds which are found in cover near water sources and areas with rich sunlight.
Dr. Nordberg on Deer Hunting
A little insight into deer bedding practices is sure to go a long way when it comes to finding the trophy buck you desire. If you are uncertain as to where to start your bed search, locating food and water sources is a great place to start. It is also useful to peruse Missouri topographic maps for areas of cover as well as clearings, both of which can help you locate certain types of bed. Pick a good starting place, strap on your boots, and get out there in search of a deer bed to aid you in selecting prime hunting real estate moving forward.
Have you had success in the field by scouting deer beds? On which types of bed, if any, do you prefer to base your hunting strategy? Let us know in the comments.