buck bedding down

How to Find Buck Bedding Areas and Hunt Them

Every year, new hunters learn how to find and hunt buck bedding areas and kill trophy deer.

In this article, we unpack what you need to find buck beds, understand what buck beds look like on a map, as well as how to hunt buck beds.

In short, bucks seek areas with thick cover to bed in and hide themselves from predators. These areas typically have plenty of food and water and aren’t easily accessible by humans. Bucks like to isolate themselves from other bucks during hunting season and typically bed alone.

During hunting season, bucks spend most of the daytime hours bedded down.

It’s crucial to understand where they bed and how to hunt buck bedding areas.

Luckily, if you follow the deer hunting tips in this article you can learn how to find and hunt buck beds like the best of them.

What Does a Buck Bed Look Like?

Buck beds appear as matted-down spots on leaves, vegetation, or other leafy areas. They’re usually isolated from other deer beds and appear as deer-sized ovals with white belly hairs in them if the buck was recently using that bed.

buck bedding area
This worn-down spot in vegetation is likely a buck bed, given its size and its isolation from other beds.

Bucks usually bed alone.

Once their hormones increase and deer start rubbing their velvet off that is especially true.

They compete with each other to breed does, so why would they want to hang out with their rivals?

So if you see a bunch of these beds together, they’re likely doe beds.

doe bedding area

Does bed together as a way to play the safety in numbers survival tactic.

They’ll even sometimes bed in open areas since there are many sets of eyes looking for predators.

Keep in mind every rule in the deer hunting world can and will be broken.

Just like people, deer have different personalities. Occasionally, you’ll find a buck bedding with another buck as well as does bedding alone.

Where do Bucks Typically Bed?

Like we mentioned previously, bucks typically bed in or on the edge of thick cover that shields them from predators.

They like to bed with plenty of food and water nearby so they can stay in one place that meets all of their needs.

hunter holding rifle overlooking thick deer bedding

Since deer move less in heavy rain, they gravitate to these thick areas to hunker down and stay dry.

When it’s hot, the shade from the cover keeps them cool and is comfortable to lay down in as well.

Check out the video below — two bucks bedding in a grown-up clear cut to get out of the summer heat.

This is a perfect example of bucks bedding in thick areas that provide safety and comfort.

How To Identify Buck Bedding Areas on a Map

Buck beds aren’t hard to identify on a map once you know what to look for.

You can find buck beds on a map by looking for areas with dense cover, food, and water.

Let’s run you through a few examples.

Pine Thickets

Pine thickets are my favorite buck bedding area to target because they’re so prevalent in the South.

young pine thicket deer bedding area

A great way to find pine thickets is to look for thinned pines or spaced out pines.

Timber companies are often involved on most public and private hunting lands so thinning pines is a common practice.

Thinning pines allows the ground to receive sunlight since enough trees have been cut to remove the closed canopy from above.

sunlight hitting ground between thinned pines

Now thick vegetation can grow in between the trees which serves as great deer bedding cover.

On a map, thinned pines look like pine trees that have gaps in between them.

thinned pines map photo

This is much different than closed-canopy pines which have no gaps in between the trees.

Closed canopy pines do not allow sunlight to hit the ground and are awful buck bedding areas.

closed canopy pines aerial view
Closed canopy planted pines make for poor deer bedding and habitat.

Another way to find pine thickets is by looking for young pines.

Young pines are easy to identify on maps as these little dots are a lot smaller than mature pines and hardwoods.

satellite map example of young pines

They make great bedding areas for bucks due to the plentiful food and cover that they provide.

Most public lands in the south have these somewhere on the property so definitely check them out to see what deer are bedding there.

Grown-up Clear Cuts

A clear-cut is when a timber company harvests all of the trees from an area leaving it devoid of vegetation.

Right after an area is clear cut no deer will use it.

After a few years, the sunlight hitting the ground creates new growth perfect for buck bedding.

It usually takes 3-7 years to create suitable habitat for a buck to bed in.

Check out the 4 year-old clear-cut in the video below to see what I mean.

Finding one of these spots for yourself on a map is easy.

Start by looking for a barren area that looks like dirt on a map. This is almost always a clear cut as something would be growing there otherwise.

clear cut area on map

Now use the google earth app’s historical imagery feature to see what year the trees were last planted.

map photo of clear cut prior to being cut

In the image above, the trees were last planted in 2021.

With it being 2024, that means this clear cut is about 3 years old. So it could be thick enough for bucks to bed in.

To know for sure, scout the area in person and see what kind of cover it provides.

Stream Management Zones (SMZs)

Stream management zones are little strips of hardwoods left in tact around creeks after an area has been logged. This is done for bank erosion control and habitat protection purposes.

Stream management zones are usually thick and full of food and water, so naturally deer love to bed here.

You can use onX hunt’s hybrid satellite/topo filter to look for streams with different-colored strips of trees surrounding them to find an SMZ.

stream management zone

SMZs are great buck bedding areas and are on 99% of huntable public land properties.

So scout one in your area and I bet you’ll be pleased with what you find.

Thermal Hubs

Thermal hubs make for insanely good buck bedding areas.

They occur when three or more ridges converge into one place which serves as the “hub”.

thermal hub

Since air travels down ridges when they cool off, that hub allows a deer to smell potential predators on all of the ridges above them.

These areas are usually thick and nasty so they make great areas to hunt buck bedding areas.

Terrain Features

Last but not least, there are many terrain features that bucks like to bed in.

In short, bucks bed in terrain features that provide a clear field of view.

An example of this is a military crest on a ridge. A military crest is the part of a ridge that sticks out before a drop-off and gives the deer the best ability to see a long way.

military crest graphic

You can find these on a topo map by looking for the area where contour lines start to stack up on a ridge. 

The area right above where the lines stack up is usually the military crest.

military crest on topographic map

Lines being close together means an area is steep, so this gives the buck great vision and reduces a predators chances of ascending the ridge quick enough to kill the bedded buck.

How to Hunt Buck Beds

To hunt buck beds effectively, position yourself between the bedding area and where the buck will be headed next.

Bucks use multiple bedding areas and will leave them to eat, drink, and monitor does.

So a mature buck can take quite a bit of scouting to pattern.

Placing trail cameras around bedding areas is a great way to get an understanding of when bucks leave their beds.

Once you know this, set up a stand where the buck frequents during the day but make sure the wind and thermals don’t drift your scent into the bedding area.

Without dragging on for too long, this is the best way to describe how successful hunters hunt buck bedding areas.

FAQs

Best Time of Day to Hunt Buck Beds?

The best time of day to hunt buck beds is typically during the early morning or late afternoon, as deer move most during these times due to their crepuscular nature. Bucks are usually on their feet looking for food or water after being reclusive and bedding down all day.

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