Whitetail Deer in the Winter

ohio whitetail hunting preserve, Hidden Hollow Whitetail Ranch
One of the largest benefits of whitetail hunting ranches is that we are able to closely study the behavior of whitetail deer. As seasons come and go, their behavior for survival changes. Winter in Ohio really starts to hit mid to end November. Even if the whitetail deer aren't being affected by snow, the drastically cooler temperatures change their habits. If you want to take home your big whitetail buck, from the wild or from a whitetail hunting ranch, there are a few essential things to understand.

Through the cold winter months, whitetail deer are active mostly to search for food and water sources, or the occasional bedding area change. When they do find themselves having to travel, it is by daylight where temperatures are a little higher and they can find sunlight. By moving during the day, they can also minimize heat loss through the coldest hours of the night. Because of this, the whitetail deer will decrease their food intake by roughly 30% and activity by at least 50%.

Part of the reduced food intake comes from reduced food resources. Food options through the winter are also less nutritious for Ohio whitetail deer meaning they get less energy conversion from food. Tree bark, especially from species like Hemlock, Maple, Ash, Birch, and Aspen become a large part of their diet. These barks are easy to find which helps the deer not need to travel further than needed. Winter shrubs with berries are one of the highest sought out food sources as well as any foraged fruit left from the warmer months of fall.

Whitetail deer look for bedding areas that offer a little more coverage than normal. During spring, summer, and even early fall, deer can be found bedding down in fencerows, crops, and even along the edges of meadows. This changes a bit in the winter. Deer for places like thickets for added coverage to help keep snow and ice off of them. Areas with thick conifer trees also keep blistering wind off whitetail deers and they can be found bedding in groups near them.

Understanding the changes in a whitetail deer's habits can help Ohio Whitetail Deer hunters improve their chance of shooting a big buck. Being mindful of choosing a hunting area that puts you between bedding areas and food resources can help increase your chance of a big whitetail deer crossing your path.