How much brush is needed to hold big deer? The answer is a lot more than you might think. It takes fifteen to twenty acres of undisturbed brush to consistently hold big deer. These are bedding areas. Don’t ever walk into a bedding area while scouting or hunting. Above all else these areas must remain sacred. Your scouting should lean towards feeding and transition areas. If you jump a big whitetail buck from his bed he will never return to that bed for the remainder of the season. Certainly, I don’t want to disturb any deer I might want to hunt, so I stay out of these brushy areas completely.
Instead, I start on the downwind side of the brush patch and look for signs of deer. I don’t necessarily look for scrapes or rubs as those sign posts are found after the velvet has been shed, and are most commonly found near feeding areas or where the buck’s trail meets another deer’s trail. What I’m looking for are oversized tracks or droppings where the pellets have been compressed into a turd. Now, I realize that a lot you rolled your eyes at that last statement, but after more than forty years of hunting, I have found pellets compressed into a turd to be a far more reliable indication of a big buck’s presence than even hoof dragging. Once I find either of these signs, I’ll leave the area immediately. The last thing I want to do is to spend several days hunting a deer that’s no longer there because I spooked him.