Can Deer Really Hear Better than Humans?

Because deer have rather large ears, it makes sense that they can hear better than humans, right? Or can they?

Many hunters assume that because deer have ears three times bigger than ours they can probably hear three times better. Some unpublished data from Art Stattleman of the University of Georgia tried to quantify this intriguing question.

Stattleman placed deer in a special soundproof room and rewarded the trained animals with food every time they responded to sounds. With the use of an audiometer, he and researchers David Osburn and Larry Marchinton concluded, “Deer and humans apparently can detect sounds of low-to-moderate frequency at approximately the same intensity.

“Deer probably detect high frequency sounds slightly better than humans.”

However, low frequency sounds, such as grunt calls, can be just as difficult for deer to discern as they are for a human.

So, the next time you’re out hunting and call to deer with no response, there is a chance the deer simply did not hear you. In this case, simply increase the volume of your call — or switch to a high-pitched bleat.

— Dr. Phillip Bishop, Deer & Deer Hunting contributor