Why Do Whitetails Yard-Up In The Winter?

Brow Tines and Backstrap

Why Do Whitetails Yard-Up In The Winter?

Posted 2016-01-01T20:22:00Z


Deer yarding during the winter. (Denver Bryan/Images On The Wildside)

It happens every winter. A ton of deer seem to appear out of nowhere, or all of them seem to disappear at once. I know, those are two very different extremes. But it happens, nonetheless.

This is a direct effect of the term yarding. Some people might wonder what that is. It's ultimately the term used for large masses of deer congregating in one area. It occurs during times of severe cold and decreasing food source availability. Food is scarce, so deer flock to what little is left. It's more common to see this in places with a lot of snow. This behavior—spending a lot of time in a confined area—allows deer to consume available resources and conserve energy. They benefit from grouping in large numbers.

Common places to see deer yard up are near south- and east-facing slopes, agricultural fields with a lot of waste grain, late-season food plots, white cedar thickets, and anywhere else they can find good shelter from the elements and food for their bellies. If you have one or more of these, it's likely you'll see deer yarding there this winter.

I've witnessed as many as 75 to 100 deer using the same cut cornfield in late winter. That's the power of food. I haven't seen it yet this winter. It's been way too warm. But cold weather is on the horizon, and the typical yarding behavior will follow. If temperatures remain low enough, expect yarding to be in full swing by mid-January in the far North and late-January in the Midwest and Mid-South.

Late-season deer hunting is tough. It isn't for the faint of heart. But you can make it happen.

To learn more about yarding deer, click here. To see a real-life example of it, click here.