It’s rare for people to catch deer sleeping and even harder to catch them napping in wet weather. Yet, we know these elusive animals are out there somewhere curled up and bedded down against the cold.
So where do deer sleep when it rains? How easy is it to find these spots and is it worth looking for them?
Deer spend 70 percent of their lives bedded down in areas where it’s safe to sleep and ruminate. In heavy rain, deer seek out bedding spots with overhead cover and natural windbreaks. However, light rain showers do nothing to discourage deer from taking shelter because the noise of raindrops helps them move silently through their territory.
Here are locations deer like to sleep when it rains:
- Cedar Thickets
- Islands of Trees
- Standing Crop Fields
- CRP and CREP Fields
- Near Old Buildings and Farm Machinery
- Mid-Range Leeward Benches
- Suburban Areas
Knowing where a deer beds down can be useful because these locations are picked for their safety. Once bedded, the animals lower their guard a little and engage in behaviors such as grooming, ruminating and playing (if there are fawns around).
They will also sleep if they feel secure closing their eyes for just thirty seconds to a minute in repeating increments over the space of half an hour.
There are various reasons why deer will bed down, and sleeping is just one of them. Heavy rain is another, but the weather has to be very wet to drive most herds under cover.
Unlike light showers, heavy rainfall can impair the animals’ ability to smell, see and hear predators approaching. So, when it really pours, they look for a safe space.
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Where Do Deer Sleep When It Rains
During downpours, deer retreat to bedding locations that provide some protection from the rain and wind. These sleeping spots are not always where you’d expect.
Here are some good places to start:
1 – Cedar Thickets
Cedar thickets aren’t available in every type of deer habitat but, where they do grow, they’re usually very well-populated. Deer love to bed down in cedar thickets because they provide unrivaled protection from the rain.
They’re thick and dense without being too prickly. Their fan-shaped foliage is soft enough to rub or lie against and their fallen needles act as a soft blanket on the hard, cold ground.
Terrain Tip – Cedar thickets emit an aromatic, woodsy odor that can be used to mask a person’s approach toward a deer bed.
2 – Islands of Trees
Out in the American west where dense forests are scarcer, deer escape the rain by seeking out islands of trees or even single large trees in the middle of grassy fields.
These locations don’t provide as much cover as heavily wooded areas but there is some overhead protection. Plus, with a bit of investigating, deer can pinpoint those tree islands that are out of the path of strong winds.
Terrain Tip – The downwind sides of tree islands are good places to watch for wild deer. In regions with fewer hunters, the animals are bolder and more confident when easing out of bedding spots in the daylight.
3 – Standing Crop Fields
Crop fields are surprisingly good places for deer to sleep in wet weather. They’re very difficult, though not impossible, to hunt in so the animals feel safe there.
Tall corn, soybean and milo plants provide robust weather protection on all four sides. The towering stalks form a canopy overhead and a windbreak in every direction when the deer are bedded down deep within the crops.
Terrain Tip – Spotting bedded down deer in a crop field is very difficult. The animals have a natural advantage here due to their camouflage and ability to move through the tall crops in near silence. The best way to spot one is to observe their comings and goings until you know precisely where they enter and leave the field.
4 – CRP and CREP Fields
Regions that are environmentally protected, such as CRP and CREP fields, have all the important things deer need to bed down safely.
These areas are ecologically managed to preserve wildlife habitats and water quality so it’s no surprise they’re a retreat for wildlife in torrential downpours.
CRP and CREP fields are popular places for females to raise fawns because bedding down here provides access to water, foliage and cover from hunters and rutting bucks.
Terrain Tip – Wild deer love to bed down at terrain edges. Sleeping at the point where two terrains meet gives these animals a lot of options when it comes to escape routes. People are most likely to spot them at the fringes of CREP and CRP fields especially if the fields are bordered by timber.
5 – Near Old Buildings and Farm Machinery
The deer beds that tend to get overlooked are around old farmsteads and large pieces of rusting machinery.
On first thought, they’re not locations many would naturally associate with deer because signs of human habitation are assumed to discourage prey animals from settling.
Yet, few places provide as much shelter as a barn with a roof or an abandoned corn crib.
6 – Mid-Range Leeward Benches
Mature bucks love to bed down on mid-range benches in heavily wooded areas with ample overhead cover. The downwind sides of slopes are popular because they come with a very special advantage.
At times, thermals carry scents upwards from the valley where they meet with scents carried high in the air on regular wind currents. When these scent channels combine, the deer can smell for miles in every direction.
7 – Suburban Areas
It’s not as surprising as it once was to find deer bedded down in populated areas close to suburbs. As humans encroach ever further into their natural habitats, deer are being forced to change their behaviors.
They’re now sleeping in barns, sheds and crop fields much closer to homes and businesses than they would have done twenty years ago.
There are dangers here, but the lure of easy food and shelter is too much to resist for some herds.
Helpful Tips To Know About Places Deer Sleep When It’s Raining
The key thing to look out for is ample overhead cover. It’s not so vital when the sun is out and the weather is dry, some deer sleep in open fields when conditions are temperate, but it’s very important in heavy rain.
Here are some more things to look out for:
- It’s common for deer to reuse bedding spots for up to a year or longer. It’s also not unusual for abandoned spots to be seized by new deer traveling through another deer’s territory. If you find what looks like an empty bed, it might be worth keeping an eye on it.
- Groups of deer like to sleep in front of tall obstacles like log piles because they provide cover in one direction while the group’s members scan for danger approaching in the other directions.
- Deer’s tawny coats help them blend into heavily wooded areas and dense thickets especially when the rain is also lowering visibility. During wet weather, look for dense areas free of human disturbance near a trail or creek bottom. If the location is also covered with thick brush or tall grasses, there’s a good chance it has been or may be used as a deer bed.
Deer are notoriously jumpy creatures, but they have no fear of wet weather. Rain doesn’t seem to bother them much and it can take an extremely heavy storm to drive them under cover.
Females with fawns and older, less mobile animals may be inclined to shelter sooner and/or spend more time selecting safe bedding spots.