Habitat and Herd Improvement

Important Buck Bed Habitat Tip

buck bed habitat

Are you scouting for a monster buck bedding area? What about creating a few acres of buck bed habitat with a chainsaw? It's time to find out the #1 buck bedding habitat tip that you can use, to discover or create, the best mature buck bedding areas in the woods!

#1 Buck Bedding Habitat Tip

The amount of cover that you create adjacent to potential or current buck beds, is the most critical aspect of the cover portion of a buck bed. I have referred for years to this form of cover, as Side Cover. As the nice little fella in the above picture is illustrating, he is directly relating to the logs and debrish behind and to the right, as well as the young growth to his left. Without the side cover to relate to, he most likely would not be bedding there. He may have also enjoyed the mock scape with the vine hanging over it, suspended by a section of rope tied between two trees - but we will never know. However, in my experience side cover is the only form of cover that you need to be concerned about, when it comes to creating or finding the best buck beds in the woods! From Vermont to New Hampshire to Oklahoma to Colorado to Minnesota and all areas in between, Side Cover Is King!

The Buck Bed Canopy Myth

Folks, it's time to say it: The necessity of a canopy for deer bedding in general, let alone a buck bed, is a myth. Millions of bucks bed without a canopy, for the entire year, all across the whitetail range. Although deer really don't care for drones, whitetails in general, do not need to hide from airplanes and birds. However, they do need to hide from you, other deer and predators. And that means while you can have a great bedding area without a canopy, you can't have a great bedding area without side cover. Some of the most major bedding area failures I have seen throughout the Country, have been buck bed canopied creations that were either completely ignored or had collapsed for the reasons of snow, decay or naturally fallen trees. Folks I can't plead with you enough, be very cautious when creating canopies for buck bedding areas. Although they may add the "reward" of a potential of 1-5% in overall quality, the risk is that they keep 100% of the deer from using them. In my experience scouting over 600 whitetail parcels in 22 states (the majority with some form of privately or commercially created bedding areas already), the risk is not in any way, worth the reward.

Side Cover Habitat For Buck Beds

There are many forms of side cover that deer will relate to, when it comes to discovering the ultimate buck bed. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Shrubs

2. Weeds, grasses, briars

3. Hardwood regen

4. Hinge-cuts

5. Conifers

6. Topography

In heavy ag, lite cover regions the closer and more confined a buck will tolerate the proximity of the side cover. The lower the overall population of deer and greater the % of cover, the more deer will require plenty of space between themselves, and whatever form of side cover they are relating to. If you add in the predator factor, deer will require even more space, so that their # of escape options is maximized.


One of the biggest mistakes I discover on client parcels across the North 1/2 of the country, is ineffective hinge-cut bedding areas. And the #1 culprit? Heavily canopied bedding areas in which the potential side cover that was necessary to create buck bedding in the first place, was used to create a canopy. What a shame! However, those bedding areas can be completely changed with the use of chainsaw. If you can walk thru your bedding areas easily, without ever having to stoop, climb and especially crawl, then you are in the right track. Rarely should your hinge cuts ever be above your hips, unless you are attempting to screen bedding areas above your head. If the deer within your next favorite buck bed are completely hidden from side cover and they can easily escape in most directions; you have most likely found, or created, a winning set up!

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