Deer Movement and Habitat Changes As the Days Become Progressively Colder.
Deer activity and habitat is based on the availability of food. They are looking for enough fat to get them through the winter. In the summertime, and even autumn, deer found an abundance of twigs, leaves, berries and other plants to satisfy their cravings; but in winter season, natural resources are largely diminished. As if losing food resources wasn't hard enough for deer herds, they are also finding trouble hiding from deer hunters. Since the leaves fell in the fall, deer are migrating away from woods to avoid becoming deer meat. While you would think that deer would move further into the woods, they choose the opposite. And, where do they end up but our yards, of course.
Because food is scarce in the winter, deer will not only change their feeding patterns but also their location. Travel routes depend upon security and which is the path of least resistance. Usually, they will travel longer distances than before for meals and they will change from early morning activity to evening activity to avoid strong (cold) wind gusts throughout the season. Wind chill factors can increase or decrease daytime deer movement based on their comfort levels. After all, deer feel temperatures just the way humans do. Additionally, they will stay put in low-key areas or hills until it's safe to come out.
"Data from Texas suggests that southern deer are more tolerant of high temperatures, and because they are not subjected to the extreme cold of the north they are probably less tolerant of low temperatures." (Game Animal Identification)
As if white-tailed deer weren't concern enough, now homeowners need to worry about coyotes invading their lawns and gardens. Beginning in December, teenage coyotes will leave their parents to fend for themselves and search for meaty meals including rodents, rabbits and the occasional pet dog or cat. In January, they will search for mates and engage in breeding season. That means even more coyotes will be on landscapes by spring and summer.
Wildlife Management At Home
White-tails will make themselves at home in the garden to feast on cool-weather crops such as squash, corn, lettuce and winter salad mixes, as they are pushed out of their wooded homes by hunters. The best method for deer resistance in the winter season is to install 7.5' feet high deer fencing in either poly or steel construction. To prevent coyote attacks on pets, pet owners can install at least a 6' foot high metal dog fence or a 7.5' outdoor cat enclosure. The higher the fence, the better chance home growers and pet owners will have to protect their assets.