Hunting large deer is difficult. Killing large deer consistently is even more difficult. It’s not a piece of cake, even for the most experienced deer hunters. But do you know how they do it every season? In hunting places, pressed males find shelter. Here are 18 places where big bucks find places to hide. But first, a bit of whitetail logic.
Understand rest areas and sanctuaries
While getting close enough to kill the big deer is really a combination of art and science, the places they go to escape hunters are not. The size of the earth doesn’t really matter. It’s all about survival. If they can hide and get away from other hunters, great. If it also had plenty of food and water nearby, it’s gold. Really, the area only needs to provide the deer with their bare necessities to survive.
Usually that’s the thickest area around. Deer in general express roosting habits, but especially mature deer. They lie down near food when they are not pressured and in more remote areas when they are pressured. They almost always inhabit advantageous terrain.
Hunt deer where they are during the day. You can’t shoot them if they’re lying hundreds of meters away.
When they are lying down, they usually have their backs covered, especially if they are lying down in a more open setting. They also usually look downwind and watch their way back which is used to enter the bedding area earlier in the day. And because deer tend to be their own creatures, and even express what can be interpreted as personality traits, degrees of caution vary from deer to deer. Now, generalities aside, here are some specific places to find big old dollars.
1. Great forests
Those who hunt in the great forests understand how daunting these places can be. They are monstrous lengths of wood, and when viewed from 10,000 feet up, it is overwhelming. That said, the best thing you can do is find edge areas where different types of vegetation are found, or locate various topographical features that are more suitable for hunters, such as pinch points, mounts, benches, etc.
2. Cedar thickets
Deer love to roost in cedar thickets, especially those that are thicker and harder to get through. Deer migrate to these areas for safety, but at the end of the season, they also enjoy the thermal protection they provide.
Until I started hunting on a CRP farm in 2015, I had no idea how much the deer liked it. In short, they live in it, including mature males. Pressed deer love this type of cover because they feel safe in it. That is something to remember.
The deer are not pressured during the preseason and the beginning of the season. But that soon changes when the hunters begin to leave for the fields.
4. Wood cutting
If it has been logged in the last eight to 10 years, moderate to heavy timber harvest areas offer quality bedding cover. As long as sunlight reaches the forest floor, it should be covered with thick young trees. Deer like areas with a high number of stems.
5. Ditches and Drains
Other places that are overlooked are low-lying areas, including ditches and drains. If it’s big enough for the deer to lay down comfortably, the deer will surely lay down there. This also includes large sinkholes.
6. Islands of Cover
Small isolated islands of cover often go unnoticed by hunters. They prefer to hunt in the most attractive areas elsewhere. That’s a mistake on their part, but one you could benefit from. Males often live here, especially during the rut.
7. Chunky Points
Any thick stitch will work. A thick, heavy cover is generally optimal. The nastier the better. If it’s hard for humans to get through, deer like it much better.
Follow the sign to determine where the pressed deer spend the most time.
8. Cubes and floors
In mountainous areas, deer are very fond of centers or places where several ridges narrow and join. Sometimes floors may also exist in such areas. Regardless, deer congregate here because of the perks they have: it swarms. That makes it hard for hunters to go unnoticed, and the deer tend to stay alive when that happens.
9. Edge cover
Any place where two types of vegetation meet will be thicker. By nature, deer like this for a number of reasons. First, it provides food sources. Second, deer also like to lie down and travel around such places.
10. Lee Ridges
Best described as the downwind side of a ridge, lee ridges are big bucks havens. Deer love to be here because of the devious perks they offer. In essence, you have the prevailing wind blowing over the top of the ridge, as well as thermals rising from below. This often creates a tunnel effect, and the deer use this to their advantage.
Deer do not lie down in standing water, but they use the water to their advantage by finding islands of dry land in between. Swamps provide many of these areas. Locate islands of dry land with a thick layer of bedding, within an already thick and difficult to navigate swamp, and it is likely to harbor large amounts of money.
Like marshes, swamps offer plenty of bedding for males. Again, they will not lie down in the water, but will find areas of dry ground. bank in it.
Sometimes pressed deer can sleep close to civilization. Other times, it could be the most remote area. Explore to find out.
Another advantageous terrain feature is a meander. These are located along streams, lakes, and rivers that create a “U” shape, or peninsula, of land. Deer like to lie down near the water at the base of the U. Rarely do predators come from the water, and if something does come from the land, they can escape out the back door through the water, effectively evading death.
14. Crest Points
Deer like to sleep on ridge points for the same reasons. It is easy for them to detect danger coming from any direction. And when it arrives, they can climb over the top or dive down to escape the intruder.
15. Standing crops
A sea of standing crops, such as corn or milo, is a haven for hard-pressed deer. Small hollows of wood and bushes within standing crops are especially so. Here, it’s virtually impossible to see a deer, let alone get close enough to shoot. And so, that’s why wary males inhabit those places.
16. Suburban Cover
Pressured deer do not always avoid humans. They just avoid humans trying to kill and eat them. That’s why you often find deer near suburbs and other areas that normally have some level of habitat and don’t hunt deer.
17. Hard to reach places
While we have covered a lot of ground, there are other deer bed areas. And any of the hard to reach ones probably have a lot of deer. If it discourages hunters from accessing it or it’s completely impossible for most hunters to do so, rest assured whitetails live there.
18. Other Overlooked Locations
Lastly, just because it’s accessible doesn’t always mean there are hunters there. Sometimes places are simply overlooked. Again, whitetails know where these points are. You also should.