Whitetail Hunting photo

Photo by Charles Alsheimer

So you found a deer bed. Buck or doe? Ask yourself these questions, in this order, to figure it out.

1) How Remote and Rugged?
Compared with bucks, does tend to bed closer to major food sources—often within a few hundred yards—in head-high grassy or brushy cover either on the lower half of a hillside or in flat or rolling terrain. Bucks tend to bed higher, farther from the food, in the real nasty stuff. They prefer to have a good view out front and the wind from behind.

2) What’s Nearby?
Does routinely bed in family groups, including yearlings and fawns. So where there’s a doe bed, there are often two or three others of varying sizes nearby, as well as a mix of midsize and small droppings and tracks. Bucks (except yearlings and fawns) tend to bed alone, and may pepper the area with rubs and large droppings.

3) How Big?
If you still can’t tell, bust out the tape measure. You don’t carry a tape measure? Well, get one. Because when sexing beds gets tough, such as in late summer when bachelor groups of bucks lie down together, you can tell the difference by measuring them. Buck beds usually go more than 40 inches long; doe and fawn beds, less.