Whitetail Hunting photo

Photograph by Donald M. Jones

Bucks are hunting does as hard as we’re hunting bucks right now, so it makes sense for us to ambush our trophies where they’re most likely to search: places where the females bed. Here are four of the favorite sanctuaries that does are using—and how to set up in them to take a buck.

1. Ridge End

Does love to bed on ridge ends, even more so when the wind is blowing straight along the ridgetop, directly toward the point. Then, does can bed down at the very tip and look over the edge. The wind warns them of danger approaching from their back, and their eyes can detect any threat approaching from below.

Best Setup
Place a stand right at the end of the ridge, and sit it only when the wind blows toward the tip. You’ll have a virtual no-bust setup that you can sit all day, particularly during the rut, or when hunting pressure forces deer to bed where they feel most secure.

2. Sidehill Bench

In hilly or mountainous country, does love to bed on any flat spot on the sidehill, where they enjoy similar advantages to bedding on the ridge end but with added protection from strong winds. During storm fronts, especially, benches on the lee side of a hill are excellent places to look for does.

Best Setup
Thermals can make any sidehill a tricky spot for a stand, so hang two sets: one above the bench and one below it. Sit in the stand that won’t allow thermals to spread your scent to the bench. Still-hunting the sidehill above the bench can be a very effective tactic, especially for a firearm hunt.

3. High Spot in a Swamp or Marsh

Swamps offer thermal cover, protection from high winds and precipitation, and safety from hunters and predators. Does will seek out humps and bumps where they can bed high and dry.

Best Setup
Hang a stand right in the middle of a swamp’s large, dry flat. Does will work down from neighboring high-ground feeding areas and/or move to escape from hunters. If you’re hunting a cattail or willow marsh, set up on trail(s) leading to and from the bedding cover. During rifle season, making small pushes through a marsh can be productive.

4. Big-Field Hidey-Hole

CRP or fallow fields are favorite bedding places for does in farm and prairie country. While all fields appear the same at first glance, does invariably prefer those that offer some sort of structure—a lone tree, a patch of brush, a weed-choked depression, a wooded fenceline—that makes them feel secure.

Best Setup
Since a treestand is rarely an option, tuck a ground blind against the highest cover, or don a gillie suit and wriggle against weeds or brush to hide your silhouette. Rifle hunters can often glass a field from a high vantage point, then plan a stalk when they see a buck cruising.