The Difference Between Daytime and Nighttime Buck Beds

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Do You Know the Difference?

Scouting is important for hunting success. But it’s crucial when trying to capitalize on a mature buck. As such, part of every good scouting plan is to locate buck bedding areas. And once you find them, you need to be able to distinguish a few different things — one of which is the difference between daytime and nighttime buck beds.

Deer don’t usually bed as much at night as they do during the day — often only an hour or two at a time. But it does happen. And reading these beds while scouting is important.

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Telling the difference between a buck and doe bed is relatively easy. Fawns obviously make very small impressions. A mature doe’s bed might measure 30 to 40 inches across; while a mature buck’s can be as big as 45 to 50 inches (or more). It all depends on location, age, genetics and nutrition. But once you get a feel for the area you hunt in, you’ve got it whipped.

Like does and young bucks, mature antlered deer bed both during the day and at night. And most of the time, these beds are located in two very different places. For starters, daytime beds are almost always located within bedding areas that offer an advantage for deer to hide from and detect predators. These locations might be on points, ridge tops, thick cover, etc. Every detail down to the direction of which the deer faces is taken into consideration.

On the flip side, nighttime beds are chosen with much less thoughtfulness. Sure, a buck is still guarded, but much less so. These beds are often right off (or even on) the edge of a food source. Sometimes it’s even in the food source, too. The common thread — these beds are often well away from their daytime bedding areas.

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The reason we need to understand the differences between these two types of beds is so we don’t waste time. And not only that but we also want to use the intel we find from nighttime beds — not just the ones bucks use during the day.

While scouting, locating both daytime and nighttime buck beds will help paint a picture of how they use the land you’re hunting. It will help make smart choices for both morning and afternoon stand locations. And it will most certainly paint a picture for individual bucks’ patterns and behaviors.

One particular buck I had on trail camera last year frequently bedded (at night) in front of one of my cameras. It was well outside its daytime bedding area, but just close enough that it commonly bedded there in the early morning hours before finishing feeding prior to daylight. It did this on numerous occasions, which gave me incredible insight as to how the buck behaved and traveled about the landscape.

Here is a series of photos that showed that buck in one of its preferred nighttime beds.

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1:46 A.M.

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1 | 1:46 A.M.

On October 6, the buck first hit the camera at 1:46 A.M. and fed for several minutes.

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1:52 A.M.

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2 | 1:52 A.M.

The buck continued feeding and "socializing" with other deer.

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2:01 A.M.

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3 | 2:01 A.M.

The buck bedded shortly after 2 A.M.

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2:21 A.M.

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4 | 2:21 A.M.

The buck continued to stay bedded for quite some time.

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2:24 A.M.

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5 | 2:24 A.M.

At times, it was unmoving and resting. At others, it was on full alert as other deer moved through the area.

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2:54 A.M.

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6 | 2:54 A.M.

The buck arose just shy of 3 A.M. and began feeding again.

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3:45 A.M.

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7 | 3:45 A.M.

The buck bedded back down (very briefly) a few yards away about an hour later.

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3:47 A.M.

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8 | 3:47 A.M.

The buck finished its late-night nap and presumably moved off and continued feeding before going back to its daytime bedding area.

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