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Old September 15, 2006, 11:35 AM   #1
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Why do deer bed down so much near water?

This summer I've found several (3) bedding areas, all in very tall grass, close to water. I understand them wanting tall grass to hide in - that makes perfect sense. But they've got hell to pay in terms of the mosquitoes, relative to, if they went upland some and found say a big thick brambly area, which would protect them (seems to me) almost equally as well, and have far fewer bugs on them. But hey, then again, who knows - they may ALSO be bedding there as well, but it's just the case that I don't SEE the sign of them bedding there, because it doesn't create the flattened grass so much that is easily recognizable. Plus, I ain't crawling into any giant bramble pile to look for sign anyway. But I just can't imagine having mosquitoes eat me up all day long - how do deer (and other mammals) deal with that? And, in addition to fewer bugs, it'd be cooler at the higher elevations, and less humidity, I would think. I suppose if a pack of coyotes or whathaveyou find them in the tall grass, they can escape and evade through all the other tall grass quite easily, whereas if found in the brambly area, once they run out of it, they're in more open areas where the predators can see them, so that's an advantage to the tall grass found near water. Plus, if escaping, brambles can hang you up, so to speak, whereas grass & weeds are easy to slip through, relatively.
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Old September 15, 2006, 11:54 AM   #2
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They're tired. They work hard. No, seriously, they lay down to chew their cud. Like most ruminants, they feed relatively fast, then go lay down somewhere where they can see or smell danger approaching and chew their cud. Takes up a lot of their day. They like to lay in areas that have escape routes and a good field of view so they can see predators coming or smell them coming. If they bedded down in brambly areas they would not be able to see or smell or escape from predators. To tolerate flies and such, they flick their tails, which is a giveaway to someone with a pair of binocs and an excellent way to spot them.
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Old September 15, 2006, 03:16 PM   #3
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Well, ok, but they can actually SEE predators approach much LESS in the tall grass than in a brushy area, not more. Escaping though, would be easier - I guess it's worth the tradeoff to be eaten up by the bugs, to have these escape routes.
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Old September 15, 2006, 05:41 PM   #4
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Deer are most at risk when they are moving. They get their feeding/watering done and bed down as soon as they can during the day. It becomes a routine.
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Old September 15, 2006, 06:24 PM   #5
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One theory might be that they bed upwind of natural obstacles so they can smell predators upwind and the obstacle prevents a downwind attack? Or maybe they just like the relative coolness near the water?
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Old September 16, 2006, 11:47 AM   #6
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they are thirsty? bowhunters often hunt between cover and a water source in early season.
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Old September 16, 2006, 12:14 PM   #7
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Until the rut, they like to stay close to home. Food source, sleep spot, water nearby. Remember, also, that in the summertime, water sources may dry up, and a deer that finds a source that stays usable through the summer is going to be better off than one that wanders looking for water that may or may not be there.

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