Do Deer Sleep in the Same Spot Every Night?
Do deer sleep in the same spot? Deer bed in the woods, always in the same area but not necessarily in the same bed every night. As long as there are sufficient food, water, and breeding availability they will bed down in the same area.
Deer seem to prefer areas where they feel safe, which of course, implies places that offer good cover.
They will scout for a location that offers the advantage of thermals and prevailing winds which they can use for their own benefit and so deer will sleep facing downhill or with the winds at their backs.
Most noteworthy is that their version of sleep tends to be more like a form of dozing off every so often instead of actual sleeping itself.
The following conditions will make deer leave the comfort of their favorite bedding spot and move on:
- If the availability of food, water or breeding opportunities change;
- Pressure from hunters – the more deer sense presence from hunters in their area, the faster they will move away.
Deer Sleeping Habits
Firstly, deer could easily sleep alone but they may bed down in groups too. Secondly they are inclined to be creatures of habit and for this reason, they will repeatedly sleep in the same area or even in the same spot once they have found an ideal spot.
When do deer sleep? Deer are more active during the night than during the day and therefore they typically sleep more during the daylight hours. Except for the rutting season of course, when their activity pattern changes. During the rutting season, they become more active during the day.
We also find their sleeping patterns changing somewhat during the winter as they would now sleep in direct sunlight to stay warm.
In general, deer do not sleep much at night but the cover of darkness is an excellent protection against predators. For this reason, they move frequently at night and always walk into the wind in order to avoid and detect predators in the area. Self-preservation is without a doubt their biggest concern when sleeping.
Deer will open their eyes at the slightest noise which could mean that danger is lurking but would not move unless the threat is relatively close.
Deer typically doze off for a short period of time and then snap to attention again. Sleeping or dozing off at night are mostly done to conserve energy and to stay out of sight of predators in the area.
Deer exhibit irregular nighttime sleeping habits. Sleeping or dozing off occurs in cycles where each sleep cycle could last anything from 10-30 minutes. In between these sleeping cycles, we see deer standing up to stretch, urinate or defecate and then lay down again.
Interestingly enough we sometimes find them standing up to urinate in their own bed and then lay back down in it.
Another aspect to consider is that bedded deer might not necessarily be sleeping. Deer use bedding time extremely efficiently to rest and chew cud.
Some interesting facts:
- Deer may sleep with their eyes both open and closed and more often with their eyes open. Experts report that deer close their eyes for less than 5 minutes at a time.
- They tend to sleep in many different positions, for example with their heads up or their noses under their hind legs and sometimes even on their sides.
Deer Activities During the Day
Can we predict the daily routine of a deer? Yes, we can predict it to a large extent. We already know that deer are more active during the night but what exactly do they do during the day?
Typically deer easily sleep in cycles of 3 to 4 hours during the day – and more often than not in the same bed. At about 10:00 am or 11:00 am they will get up to stretch, urinate, eat and walk around a bit. During this time they will not wander off farther than approximately 100 yards.
They then return to their beds and repeat the same cycle in 3-4 hours again.
It is also not unusual for older bucks to spend more than 80 percent in or near their bedding areas.
We should keep in mind though that the daily routines of deer are not fixed patters but are influenced by a number of factors of which the rutting season is the most obvious and surely the most significant.
Bucks usually visit scrapes at night but this changes during the rutting season. Daylight scraping now becomes more visible as bucks are increasingly looking for a doe. Bucks now also tend to become more active earlier in the morning and will be wandering around in broad daylight more often during the rutting season.
To learn more about the rut, check out this article about hunting deer during the rut.
Do deer travel the same path every day? There seems to be some controversy regarding the travel patterns of deer.
One group of researchers believes that deer trails are there for a good reason – simply because they re-use their same tracks. They believe that deer will stay in the same area and use their same tracks unless confronted by the pressure of hunters and predators; or when the food, shelter, cover or water becomes a problem.
The second group of researchers feels strongly that the travel patterns of deer will vary depending on a number of determining factors. For instance, it could be influenced by the weather such as wind velocity and the amount of cloud cover.
It is furthermore suggested that even their moods play a significant role in their movement patterns, so they may be seen using the same trails one day and use different ones the next day.
Now, when it comes to the travel patterns of bucks, things get really interesting. They do not stay on prescribed trails. Their main objective is to go where the does feed and bred – especially during the rut. Their trails are determined by the availability of does.
How far do deer travel? Keeping in mind that deer are creatures of habit, it is easy to understand that a deer’s home range is dictated by habit, not acres. One typical home range could, for example, be an area of winding river bottom 2 miles x 300 yards. Above all, this might include areas where the deer could move upstream on a small tributary and this would make it difficult to put a number on it.
As we can expect with any given behavioral trend, there are a number of factors which influences the distance that deer travel.
- Personality – just like humans, each deer has its own personality and for this reason, we find different traveling patterns among deer. One example is a deer staying for quite a number of years in the same 20-acre area which offers adequate cover, food, bedding, and water. In contrast to this, other deer have been observed covering large areas in a day or two. One hunter describes a hunting trip in Virginia where a deer had traveled 30+ miles in two weeks. During this journey, he had to cross two major rivers and at least one major highway. Unfortunately, we could not verify the reliability of this source.
- Part of the country – According to Dr. James Crowell who has done intensive research, travel distances and patterns vary in different States.
- Season (time of year) – seasonal traveling patterns drastically change during the rutting season. Reports indicate that while most bucks will stay within a few miles of their home range, some could travel as far as 20 miles away from home.
There are also differences between how far does and bucks respectively travel. Data from one study reveals that annual home ranges for bucks are 155-418 acres and 60-70 acres for does.
Do deer migrate? Deer do indeed migrate as concluded by a study in April 2014 when researchers found the longest large mammal migration of deer in Western Wyoming. It was reported that mule deer migrate approximately 150 miles in this region each year.
Not only is this an enormous distance to travel or move, but it also includes a number of tough barriers which they have to overcome. During such a migration they have to cross highways, fences, conquer rough terrain and rivers which is no easy task.
Do deer get cold? Mother Nature works magic in protecting wild animals from the harshness of winter – especially in the colder regions of the US and Canada.
We can most certainly suspect that deer do feel the cold, but they are naturally equipped to withstand and survive the cold and there are many ways to do so.
One way to stay warm during the winter is consuming energy while limiting their movement will conserve much-needed calories.
Furthermore, a deer’s winter coat consists of hollow hairs to “trap air” which in its turn provides an insulated outer layer to protect them against the lowest temperatures imaginable.
Other much-needed survival strategies are:
- Fat storage – this process is already initiated in the months before the temperatures begin to drop. Fat is stored around the internal organs as well as under the skin.
Selective Shelter Choices – We typically find deer in conifer stands, which is ideal as it reduced wind speeds provide overhead thermal cover. This will inevitably ensure higher nighttime temperatures.