White-tailed deer are mysterious and elusive. Once you think you’ve figured them out, they prove you wrong. Bowhunting has no guarantees, but you can tilt the odds your way by zeroing in on whitetail hotspots.
Hotspots are sites where you’ll most likely see deer. Avid bowhunters often consider these six locations the best places to hunt whitetails:
Knowing where to hunt is helpful, but knowing when to hunt there is more important. Deer habits change throughout autumn, so you must change your hunting spot along with them.
Read Bowhunting 360’s article “Whitetail Deer Throughout the Year: What You Need to Know” to learn how deer act, look and feed depending on the season. Then, use the information below to help pick bowhunting setups throughout hunting season.
Does and bucks are often most easily patterned early in the season when feeding in fields. Early-season deer often leave their feeding areas before dawn to bed for the day, and return before dark. Set up near food for late-afternoon and early-evening bowhunts to intercept deer as they return to eat. In contrast, hunt near bedding areas in the morning to catch deer returning from food sources. If you’re unsure what food sources to look for, read Bowhunting 360’s article “Understanding a Whitetail’s Diet.”
Deer are often active along edges, and they haven’t been pressured for months, so they tend to feel more comfortable there in daylight. If they detect danger, they’re often only one or two leaps from safe cover.
Bucks tend to move more in daylight during the rut. Funnels, saddles and other pinch points that force deer to move through specific areas are great options during the rut. Bucks also make lots of rubs and scrapes before the rut peaks, so zero in on those signs and set up. Read Bowhunting 360’s article “Rut-Hunting Strategies: Capitalize on Rubs and Scrapes” for details.
Deer usually resume their food-to-bed pattern by late season. Bucks are often depleted from the rut, and must eat a lot to bulk up to survive winter. Hunt near feeding and bedding areas, or a strategic place between the two. Read Bowhunting 360’s article “Follow These 5 Steps to Punch Your Late-Season Tag” for late-season setup tips.
If you can target a late-season sanctuary, you’ll be in good shape. White-tailed deer are a prey species, so they must use all their senses to dodge death threats. If deer see, hear or smell humans regularly in the same location, they’ll hide and change their travel patterns to avoid the area in daylight. Find their sanctuaries, and you might catch them off guard.
Consistently successful bowhunters hunt the areas we’ve discussed, and they put a lot of time and effort into scouting. Do your homework to find hunting hotspots, and plan to be there when the time is right.