Creating the best habitat on your property for deer is a careful balance of food and land management, but as most of us have probably noticed, food seems to get the most hype. That being said, you can’t afford to ignore the importance of providing great cover for deer on your land. In addition to providing great cover, you also should be providing safety and relief from hunting pressure. If deer feel safe and unpressured on your land, you’re going to see a lot more deer and they will spend a lot more time in your area. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to designate a piece of cover or bedding area on your land as a sanctuary. Now, although creating a sanctuary is nothing new, its important enough that some of these ideas should be repeated and kept top of mind. So lets examine four simple tips towards creating a great sanctuary for deer on your property.

  1. Keep It Centered: If you have the option to create your own sanctuary wherever you like, putting it near the center of your property is best. The deer will be less likely to be disturbed by pressure on the surrounding properties and will have to travel around your land more often and for greater distances to go anywhere else.
  2. Make It Nasty: Create thick cover utilizing brush piles, hinge cuts, clear cuts and select plantings. One great idea, if your sanctuary is small/moderate size,  is to use hinge cuts to almost fence in the outer boundaries of your sanctuary with thick cover. Leave a few select openings that later can be used as funnels to hunt over. But don’t hunt too close to the sanctuary.
  3. Stay Committed: A sanctuary is only a sanctuary if you don’t go in. Stick to your guns and avoid the temptation to explore your sanctuary or hunt in it. To keep your herd feeling as safe and unpressured as possible, never venture into this area unless you are recovering a wounded deer or improving cover in the early spring or summer.
  4. Provide Variety: Just like deer prefer variety in their diets, they also need variety in their bedding and cover areas. Provide different types of cover, if possible, such as a mix of pines, native grasses, blowdowns and hardwoods. Having clear cuts or fruit trees interspersed can also provide some fresh browse, which will make your sanctuary more attractive and more likely to hold deer.

Take these four tips into account when you are designing your sanctuary and you will hold more deer on your land and, most likely, more deer that have fat bellies and big horns.