You can’t hunt deer unless you understand where they live. Since many food-motivated, novice, adult hunters are urban, they may not have an understanding of deer habitat and behaviors.

White tailed deer range from Canada, throughout the United States and Mexico, and into South America.  They are not found in Alaska, Hawaii, or desert areas such as some areas of the southwest desert.

White tailed deer are highly adaptable animals and can withstand the conditions of a high variety of habitats. From grasslands, prairies and plains to mountains, forests and swamps. They prefer a sheltered habitat; they often reside in forests. Deer will graze in open areas, but they prefer to dwell in heavy brush or forests at night and during the winter. Deer stray from typical habitat to feed in agricultural areas.

They require water and trees, shrubs and grasses for food and cover. A typical home range for the white tailed deer is about one square mile and they rarely leave it if undisturbed by man and predators.

Deer spend their time traveling between cover, food and water. Terrain features influence where they are likely to travel. Deer and other animals generally take the easiest route to get to where they are going. Low spots in hills (saddles), benches (flat spots that run along a side-hill), and ridgelines are all likely to contain game trails. 

Spots where two or more terrain features converge are likely areas where trails converge. Generally, the more trails and features converge, the better the ambush point.

Often these features are easily located using topographic maps.


The Art of Mapping Deer - Saddles Benches and Points

Although I could write a narrative on each of the following landscape features, how they funnel deer, and how to hunt them, the most important thing to know is how to identify them on a map. With hunting season quickly approaching, scouting is likely on your agenda, and if you’re hunting the hill country, then here are some good terrain features for stand locations. Keep in mind that these areas are not always loaded with deer sign.

Scouting For Hunting Success

A high percentage of hunters scout incorrectly or not at all. With that these hunters defeat themselves of hunting success long before they even set foot into the woods.

Assuming you can shoot and that you have a deer population to hunt there are only two factors that determine hunting success: proper scouting and luck.