More winter deer behavior facts can help you better understand the game you hunt.
While deer stay awake and active during parts of the season, by the time the middle of the winter rolls around, most deer have significantly slowed down. Make no mistake, the winter months are punishing for whitetails, especially for the males, who shed much of their fat reserves during the rut and then have to survive off of what’s left during the winter.
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Because food sources are hard to come by in the winter – with woody browse serving as the main entrée for most deer in the coldest, northernmost parts of the United States – winter survival is all about the fat reserves.
As winter moves forward and these reserves continue to be challenged, deer cut their activity levels in half in an attempt to conserve energy. It’s not hibernation, but it’s not business as usual either. Think about the distances you know deer can cover in short periods during warmer months.
These reduced levels of activity mean a few things. First of all, many deer in the middle of winter will cut their movement down to such an extent that they aren’t wandering far from their bedding areas at all. If the sun comes out, you might find a buck or doe on the side of a south-facing slope, soaking up the solar warmth. But in most cases, deer won’t leave the cover of their evergreen dwellings – even to find food, unless they get desperate.
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Secondly, if deer do travel, they will look for paths that contain heavy levels of cover without forcing them to navigate through fallen branches or trees. Deer in the winter are looking for the easiest, least energy-intensive paths in the woods – something you can turn into a killing device if you live somewhere that allows January hunting.
What other tips have you picked up by observing deer survive through winter? Leave your thoughts below.