A crucial step for success during deer season is to know where does bed in your hunting territory. Bucks will be visiting these locations more and more as the rut approaches. And you may simply want to hunt near a doe resting area in the early season to harvest a female deer for herd management and the delicious venison it will provide.
But how do you find these areas? What do they look like? And most important of all — how do you set up and hunt them?
Doe bedding areas are found in the absolute best habitat an area offers. Study your topographic maps, aerial photographs and Google Earth and also get out and do lots of walking to determine where these areas are. You don't want to find just one. You want to pinpoint as many as possible, hopefully all of them in your hunting territory.
It's usually gentle terrain, semi-open, only part ways up slopes if the topography is hilly or mountainous, and much closer to prime feeding spots than buck bedding areas. You might find them less than 100 yards from food plots, agricultural fields or oak flats, or maybe two to three times that distance.
Pinpoint the best feed areas, and then make looping circles around, checking out trails and transition corridors looking for likely bedding spots. It might be a semi-open grove of cedars or pines, a brushy field with weeds, saplings and honeysuckle, a thicket along a river bottom or a stand of native warm season grasses such as switch grass, Indian grass and big and little bluestem.
Does don't want to bed totally in the open, but they don't need the rough, jungle-like cover old bucks normally seek out. Search for the first soft, gentle knoll or bench near a feeding area and you'll often find doe beds there. Confirmation comes in the form of a cluster of oval depressions about 2-3 feet long, made by the does, and some slightly smaller ones nearby, made by fawns.
Mark this on your topo or a map you've drawn of your hunting area or enter it into a GPS unit. Now back off and go find another. Doe groups are quite distinct in most hunting areas and your aim is to pinpoint as many different groups as possible. (The reason for that will become clearer as the rut approaches.)
If you are simply out to fill a tag, hunt between these bedding areas and the major food sources in late afternoon in the early bow season. Find the transition corridors they use, pinpoint the main trails, and then set up a stand downwind of those trails leading to feed areas.
Next Week: Hunting Doe Bedding Areas as the Rut Approaches to Tag a Mature Buck