Ask Dr. Dave About Whitetails: Yarding Up In Winter

A friend from upstate New York would like to know why deer yard up in some areas in the winter, but not in other areas.

Harsh winters are the cause of migration to yarding areas. In northern states, especially when winters are bad, deer will move from five to 25 miles to traditional yarding areas. These areas tend to be in conifer swamps, with good thick cover, which protects them from predators (to a degree, though, dogs can get into deer yards and cause major damage) and the wind.

In my own state of West Virginia, it is rare for deer to yard up, but back in 1977-78 we had a terrible winter and I observed deer yarding up in Canaan Valley. We had very deep snows and very cold temperatures that year. In northern Minnesota, Michigan, etc., deer commonly yard up in bad winters.

If you have a deer question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at [email protected].

Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he’s been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 30 years.

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