Deer Behavior

Have you ever watched a deer from your stand and wondered, “Why do they do that?” Whitetails are fascinating creatures, and understanding the many facets of their behavior enhances this addicting pursuit. Learn all about deer behavior and biology from the top biologists in the country.

Giant buck

Signpost Secrets: Probing the Mysteries of Whitetail Rubs

  Cervids (members of the deer family) living in open country, such as elk and mule deer, rely heavily upon visual displays and vocalizations when communicating information of social significance. In contrast, forest-dwelling white-tailed deer more commonly use glandular secretions and scent-marking, especially in conjunction with antler rubs and ground scrapes, commonly referred to...

response

Dialing Up Big Whitetails: Rattling Response Varies

In experiments, buck response to rattling was greatest during the rut and lowest during pre-rut. However, seasonal response rates varied according to buck age. By the Deer & Deer Hunting staff Young bucks (1½ to 2½ years) were more responsive to rattling during the pre-rut period, whereas middle-aged bucks (3½ and 4½ years) more...

southrut

The Southern Whitetail Rut: Um, When Is That Again?

Throughout much of the whitetail’s range, the rut is fairly synchronous , occurring roughly about early to mid-November. As you move south, things change — sometimes dramatically. There are numerous mitigating factors, including climate, genetics, nutrition, sex ratio and radically different day lengths. By Bob Humphrey, Deer & Deer Hunting contributor One of the...

doefawnrut

Why Whitetail Fawns Rule (The Second Rut, That Is)

This past week, we looked at the many fallacies of the second rut. Today, we’ll discuss the true foundation of the second rut: doe fawns. Surprisingly, many doe fawns can breed before their first birthday. According to Deer & Deer Hunting’s John J. Ozoga, the key to doe fawns achieving estrus is tied to...

2ndrut

The Second Rut: More Fiction Than Fact?

The premise is simple: Buck-to-doe ratios are so woefully out of whack there’s no way all the does can be bred during peak breeding. It’s also understood that does not impregnated cycle back into estrus 23 to 30 days later. So if you wait the number of days in the does’ cycle past peek...

mockscrape

Signpost Secrets II: Revealing the Mysteries of Whitetail Scrapes

As I discussed in my previous “Whitetail Behavior” blog, white-tailed deer rely heavily on scent-marking at antler rubs and scrapes, commonly referred to as signposts, to communicate information of social significance, especially during the breeding season. There’s good evidence deer can communicate individual identity, dominance rank, physical condition, breeding status and other bits of...

Deer in Snow NPSphoto

Do Deer Move Better in Frigid Weather or Wait?

We had a little discussion going during our Mossberg–Swarovski hunting trip at Tall Tine Outfitters in Kansas about whether deer move more or less when temperatures are down around single digits and the wind is howling. The weather affects humans more than animals, of course, at least to a certain point. Even with good...

small fawn

How You Can Help Minimize Fawn Mortality

As with most mammals, white-tailed deer tend to produce more young than can be expected to survive. Although the reasons vary regionally, a high proportion of fawns born each year fail to survive to weaning age. In some cases, formerly overabundant deer populations have stabilized, if not declined, principally because of recent increases in...

Is a moonlit night more dangerous for animals? Depends on what you are. (Photo: NASA)

Death by Moonlight? Not Always True

Is moonlight dangerous? It depends on what you are, according to a study published online recently in the Journal of Animal Ecology. “Ecologists have long viewed the darkness of a moonless night as a protective blanket for nocturnal prey species,” said Laura Prugh, a wildlife biologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In the...