The Bed Sneak: A 5-Step Plan for Invading a Buck's Lair

I’ve personally taken several trophies by sneaking into their bedrooms. You can, too, if you follow this plan:

Photo by Lance Krueger

Don’t bother trying to walk up a bedded buck, some hunters will tell you. It’s too risky and almost impossible to pull off. But in fact, you’ve got nothing to lose when the buck you want goes nocturnal, when bad weather puts deer down during your only vacation days, or when the rut is about to pop and send your best bucks into the next county. I’ve personally taken several trophies by sneaking into their bedrooms. You can, too, if you follow this plan:

Step 1: Pick your spot.
Ideally, you already know where several bucks bed on your property. Otherwise take a mental inventory of the best bedding cover—ridge ends, benches, high ground in marshy areas, thick cover. Because that bedded buck's ears are constantly swiveling about to pick up the slightest sounds, decide which locations will enable you to move in quietly over damp soil, ferns, or moss-covered rocks, say, or along a windswept ridge, stream, logging road, or game trail.

Step 2: Crosscut the wind.
In flat country bucks usually bed with the wind at their backs while looking ahead for danger. In hill country, they'll bed high to sniff out trouble on rising thermals. In both cases, crosscutting the wind greatly reduces the odds that your scent will reach the buck. At which of your spots from Step 1 will you be able to make a quiet approach while keeping the wind on either cheek? Figure this out, and you're ready to hunt.

Step 3: Move methodically.
An undisturbed buck will bed on the same ridge or small woodlot for days in a row—but rarely in the same exact place. He may pick a blowdown one day, an uprooted stump the next, and a sumac thicket after that. As you move forward, subtly zigzag toward likely cover, glassing very carefully. Don't walk past any promising cover until you're sure it doesn't hold a buck.

Step 4: Glass meticulously.
You need to see the buck first. You should spend as much time looking through your binoculars as covering ground, maybe more. The buck will be lying down, so you're not going to get a look at a whole deer. Watch for swiveling ears; antler tips; a white throat patch; a black, shiny nose or eye; the horizontal line of the back or rounded line of the rump. Anything that looks out of place could be a bedded buck.

Step 5: Wait for your shot.
If the buck you spot offers a clear crack at the vitals, great. But don't expect it. The body angle of a bedded buck doesn't always allow a clean kill, and surrounding cover frequently obscures the kill zone. Never guess where the vitals are. Instead, sit tight. You've worked this hard to get close. Sooner or later your buck will stand up to reposition, browse a bit near his bedding area, get a drink, or head out to an evening food source. When he does, you'll be ready.