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If you want to see deer on your property, you must study the movement patterns of deer on your land.

These patterns will tell you where the deer sleep, where they eat, and how they move. You don’t need GPS trackers to follow them—small signs like scrapes can tell you a lot about bucks and depressions in the grass will show you where deer sleep. Once you have established how deer move across your land, you will be able to track them.

What Do Deer Want?

Deer want food, shelter, and protection. Wherever they find these, they will linger around and create their home range. If your land delivers proper food sources and protected bedding areas, deer will criss-cross, without venturing too far out.

What Is the Home Range?

The home range is where deer find food and where they feel safe enough to mate and take care of their young. Most deer will spend 95% of their time in their home range.

How big is the deer home range? The average home range is often assumed to be around 700 acres or one square mile, but these numbers vary. Sometimes the home range is not contiguous land but patches of land connected by corridors that deer take.

Within the home range, deer spend their time in a tighter space called their core area. The core area is much smaller than the home range and can be as much as ten times smaller than the home range—50 to 80 acres. Deer may spend 50% of their time within their core area, nibbling at food and sleeping in their bedding area.

What Determines Deer Movements?

If deer find quality food sources within a specific area, they will stay there. Quality food sources imply that deer find food throughout the year. Various oak trees, fruit trees, berries, and mushrooms are prevalent and give deer the protein, fibers, and carbohydrates they need to sustain themselves.

Summer and winter deer movement patterns differ. Food sources in winter are scarcer, so deer will expand their search area beyond their locality. In the summer, when fruit trees are bearing crops, deer will stay put as they have abundant food close by.

Deer and Rut Season

The mating season of white-tailed deer is between October and December. Deer tracking movements change during this time as bucks go looking for a mate.

During their travels, bucks leave scrapes behind. What are scrapes? Scrapes are urine samples bucks leave under trees and beside bushes. Their smell is rather pungent, but scrapes are a good indication of bucks’ movements.

Deer also rub their antlers against trees. Take a look around and note any scratches on tree bark and tree trunks. If tree rubs feel fresh and moist to the touch, it means bucks were there a short while before.

Tracking deer movement | Wildtree, providers of wildlife-preferred trees & shrubs

Where Do Deer Sleep?

Deer like to sleep close to their food sources, particularly their evening food sources. Deer are nocturnal creatures. Thanks to their impressive night vision, they can navigate woods and land in darkness. Deer will want to eat in the evening and during the night, hence their need to find a bedding area near their major food sources.

How do you know where deer sleep on your property? You just need to observe. Do you see a basin or a sink in the grass, brush, or dirt? That’s probably where deer sleep. Interestingly, you can detect whether bucks or does sleep there by evaluating the bedding space and the distance between the ‘beds.’ Numerous beds in close proximity imply these are doe’s bedding areas. Bedding spaces that are farther apart are signs of a bucks’ bedding area.

Deer Know How to Hide

While tracking deer movement, don’t be surprised if you don’t actually spot any animals. Deer have an acute sense of danger and will always find a secluded and well-hidden place to hide and observe their environment. They particularly like dense thickets where humans cannot see them or enter. They also enjoy swamps and marshes because, again, these are not easily penetrable by humans.

In some cases, deer choose vegetation that hides 90% of their body, thus making them invisible to the human eye.

How Do Deer Move Around?

Deer are cautious when they travel around. During mating season, bucks will be more daring and may leave their home range in search of a female. But that is not always the case.

When does travel with their young, they are more careful, taking safer routes and avoiding open spaces and valleys. They will travel at dawn and dusk when light is dimmer. Their night vision guides them in the dark.

White-tailed deer take into account the scents and sounds that wind carries. This is the reason why deer choose to walk toward the wind. Although it may seem counterintuitive as it takes much more effort, walking against the wind enhances the scents and sounds and alerts deer to imminent danger or a good food source.

Deer Are Creatures of Habit

Deer don’t change their living and movement patterns very often. They are creatures of habit. Once they have discovered an area that fulfills their needs, they will stay there. It is common to see deer visit private lands to find food to eat. Very often, these areas used to be open land before they were purchased. Deer will continue eating irrespective of the owner of the land.

If you track your white-tailed deer population movements and discover their eating and bedding areas, you will know that you have a permanent deer population. Deer will only move out if something dramatic changes: the vegetation disappears or the food sources fail to deliver any more crops.

It takes a bit of time and investigation to track deer movement patterns in your property. However, with a little bit of observation and patience, you can establish where deer live and how they move around your land.  

To ensure that deer in your property will find all the food sources they need throughout the year, visit the Wildtree online shop, call now 832-400-5978, or email us at [email protected]. We offer a 10% discount on orders over $1,000 and free shipping on all our orders. Get 40% off when you pick up your order!