Is it a good idea to hunt near a deer bedding area? Expert deer hunters answer these questions.
A hot topic in deer camps across the country is how aggressive you should hunt. Should you pursue a buck in a bedding area? Is there ever a time when you break the mold and get more aggressive? We took the question to our panel of experts and here’s what they had to say.
Pete Alfano – Land specialist at Whitetail Properties
Call me old school, but I would never go into a deer bedding area. That being said, you can still get very close and remain undetected in a Bank’s hunting blind. My philosophy is simple: Why go after him? He’s going to get up at some point and either follow a doe during the rut or he’s going to food or water. So why risk it? Scout and glass from far away and you’ll have the food/water part figured out, but eight out 10 times if he is following a doe, that doe is usually the first one to enter a food plot or go to water.
Cory Smith – Owner of CS Outdoors
We actually have two days out of the season we call the “go for broke days.” These are days that we enter the thickest cover we can find and hunt all day. The first day we feel is perfect for bucks to be chasing and rutting in their core area. The success rate from the intense rutting activity far outweighs the risk or worry of getting winded or spooking a deer. The second day is during the last weeks of the season when we feel the bucks aren’t entering the fields during daylight. At that point, the season is almost over anyway and our intrusion will only be of minimal harm.
Dan Perez – Host of Whitetail Properties TV
How aggressive you hunt depends on two things: how many acres you are hunting and how long will you be able to hunt this particular property. If I’m hunting out of state, and I’m down to the last two days of the hunt, I might throw caution to the wind and slip into a heavily used bedding area in the dark of the morning. If I fail, who cares? I’m heading home anyway. However, if I’m hunting my own farm, I will never hunt deer bedding areas because the last thing I want to do is push those that reside on my property on to the neighbor’s property.
An analogy I often use in my talks is that if I was a contracted assassin and you were my assignment, I would watch you from a distance and learn your habits and eventually take you out with the least amount of notification or intrusion. If I was an amateur, however, I might try to intercept you in your own home. The problem with this approach is if I fail I will not get a second chance because you will call the police, put in an alarm system and maybe even bars on the doors and windows – my point is, you will be at full alert!
Kevin Paulson – Founder of huntinglife.com
I work hard to pattern deer, and I pay close attention to bedding areas. I do the best I can to impact those areas as little as possible, but I also do not have a problem getting in close to them when I know every condition is right for such a hunt. If I am looking for a very specific deer, and I think this is the only way, I will sometimes take the risk. I have failed in the attempt to close in bedding areas many more times then I have had success, but sometimes the failures from a hunting trip are where you learn the most about yourself and the animals you are chasing.
Find the Bedding Areas
Start with an aerial map and make an educated guess where the deer may be bedding. Remember, it needs to have adequate cover and good sources of food and water nearby. It’s probably going to be the thickest cover you can find, be it swamps, thickets or under broadleaf trees. Once you have some idea of where to scout, get out there. Perez stressed that you don’t need to worry too much about spooking a deer if you’re scouting in the off season. “After the season is over, it does not matter that you jump deer out of their beds,” he said. “In fact, you want to jump deer from their beds, especially the big old bucks that eluded you all last season. This is one of many pieces of information that will be helpful in planning next year’s season.”
Actually seeing the buck in his core area will leave no guessing on whether or not this is where you want to put hunting blind. If you found rubs or have trail camera photos of the buck from past seasons, you should have a good idea of the trails he uses to get in and out of his bedding area. You want the hunting blind to be set up on the downwind edge of the bedding area so the prevailing fall wind is not blowing your scent directly into the core area.
Also, erect the tower hunting blind near terrain features that will make your entry/exit routes undetectable. Creek bottoms, old timber trails and anything that will limit your exposure should be used, even if it means a longer walk. Mark the trail and clear obstructions this time of year. Get the blind set up and leave the area while you try and forget about it.
If he is still only moving under the cover of darkness, wait for perfect conditions. Only hunt when the wind is right. A wind blowing downwind is good, but a crosswind may be even better. A crosswind blows perpendicular to the bedding and feeding areas, so your scent is blowing away from the approaching deer and not alerting deer in the food sources.