31 Amazing Deer Facts (And Things You Didn’t Know)


Roe deer with one antler walking and grazing grass in autumn

Deer are prevalent all around the world with over 60 species in all. You’ve likely seen deer in your own yard, or as you’ve been out driving, but there are a bunch of interesting facts you probably didn’t know. Really cool facts like females can grow antlers and antlers are actually organs – what!

Deer are amazing animals and there are so many incredible facts about them that you may not know! Deer can walk almost instantly after they are born, have sharp 310-degree vision, can live until 20 years old, and they can’t see the color neon orange.

Quite honestly, there’s a ton you don’t know about deer. If you are ready to learn some absolutely amazing deer facts today – well, keep on reading!

There Are Over 60 Species Of Deer

Believe it or not, there are over 60 species of deer in the entire world, but even more shocking is that there are only 2 species native to the United States! I knooooow – all those deer around, but there are only two types?

The White-Tail Deer and the Mule Deer are the only two native USA deer. White-Tail Deer are pretty much seen everywhere except far west like in California.

Mule Deer, on the other hand, are really only found in the western parts of the United States.

The continent with the most species of deer in them is Asia – but in the United States, the most deer reside in Mississippi.

Deer Are On All Continents Except Antarctica

Yes, there is no surprise here that deer make their homes throughout the entire world, except Antarctica. If you’ve read some of our other blogs about animals – you’d actually find that Antarctica is just generally avoided by most animals.

Other than its aquatic animals, Antarctica doesn’t really have any other types of animals, unless brought in by humans.

Antarctica, being a continent with extreme frigid weather, and because it’s not connected to any other continents – remains and has been very isolated for millions of years!

Deer, however, are just about everywhere else! They are native to all continents except Antarctica and Australia! Although not native to Australia – they do still live there.

Male Deer Are Called Bucks

Crazy story – male deer are said to be called “bucks” because a long time ago deer hide would cost 1 dollar, or, a buck! And that’s the rumor ladies and gents!

But another version of this story is that back-in-the-day they would use deer hide and other animal hides as currency. Which definitely is true.

So, if we take both stories and combine them together, it was probably the time paper money came about that the name became Buck!

Either way, male deer are called bucks. Bucks can be easily recognizable because they have antlers, whereas female deer do not.

A Young Deer Is Called A Fawn

White tailed deer fawn with spots in a field of wildflowers

Baby deer are called fawns! Like baby dogs are called puppies, and cats are called kittens, and humans are called babies – baby deer are fawns.

Deer are called fawns up until about one year of age! But a more fun fact – infant deer, so to speak, are called younglings!

To attract deer to your yard, you can try putting out a deer feeder.

Only One Female Deer Grows Antlers

So, we said earlier that only male deer grow antlers – and it is true, however, there is always one exception to every rule, right? And actually – it’s our favorite deer of all!

Female Reindeer grow antlers. The reason being is that Reindeer have to compete for food more so than other deer.

Reindeer live in colder climates, and food is scarcer in these environments. Through the last couple of thousand years, female reindeer have evolved to develop antlers.

The reindeer actually has the heaviest, and most dense antlers out of all deer species!

It’s very interesting because although they both have antlers, they grow and shed them at different times! Female reindeers actually keep their antlers longer than a male because they use them for protection when they are pregnant.

Antlers Fall Off And Regrow Each Year

This is true- antlers actually fall off!

Antlers are brought on by the levels of testosterone in deer, and when the winter months come, the testosterone levels drop, and the antlers actually fall off!

In September, deer antlers start to grow back, because it is deer mating season!

Deer Antlers Are Actually Organs

I was shocked too when I realized this – antlers are organs, and the bigger the antlers – the healthier the deer is!

Deer antlers grow in velvet, which is velvety to the touch but comparable to skin. Wrapped around their antlers, deer have velvet that will shed and expose the antlers.

When deer shed their antlers, the velvet will grow over the antler spot, and in time, depending on the nutrients and testosterone levels, a small spot on the velvet appears and it triggers the antlers to grow. When this spot appears, more blood flow is brought to the velvet – and that’s how antlers emerge!

Deer Antlers Are The Fastest Growing Tissue On The Planet

In all of the animal kingdom – antlers are by far the fastest-growing tissue. Growing upwards of an inch a day, antlers shed yearly, and are fully grown within a month!

Elk, Deer, and Moose all have the fastest-growing antlers. Made out of bone, the antlers are always in a growing, re-growing stage, and once they shed, deer start preparing for new antlers to come!

Antlers are a sign of health on a male deer, and they are made to attract females, and also to fight other males for a female deer.

The Furry Coat On Deer Antlers Is Called Velvet

So yes – the furry coat of a deer is called velvet, but it’s not the velvet we use in our fabrics!

Deer velvet is a smooth, velvety coat that helps deer grow their antlers. Deer velvet has actually been used in Chinese Medicine for ages for rejuvenation and healing purposes.

Baby Deer Are Born With White Spots 

Fawns are born with white spots! And as they get older, they start to fade away.

If you ever came across a baby deer, one of the most noticeable aspects is that baby deer have white spots all over their body.

Deer are actually born with white spots to help camouflage them. The white spots are an adaptation that serves to hide baby deer and protect them from predators.

Fawns spend a great deal of time, after being born, laying around under trees and finding their place in the world – literally and figuratively. After laying under trees for long periods of the day, they will search around and find new hiding spots.

Deer Hate Soap And Stay Away From It

While there isn’t a ton of scientific evidence behind this one, deer generally stay away from places that have a strong soapy smell. It’s believed that the tallow fatty acids used in soap production actually keep deer away.

If you’d like, you can learn more about repelling deer with soap here!

Deer Can Walk Within An Half Hour Of Being Born

When deer are younglings, they can actually walk within a half-hour of being born – it’s just a natural instinct!

When a baby deer begins to walk (literally right away) the momma deer takes the baby and brings them to a new hiding space. These little babies spend a great deal of their first time on Earth in hiding spots, as they are fragile and need care!

When the babies hide, the mother goes and gets food. They can leave the babies alone for 12 hours, as the babies know to keep extra still and keep quiet! Isn’t it unbelievable how instinctual animals are?

Deer Can Swim

Red deer with calf in a lake

Another crazy fact about deer is that they can swim – and deer are amazing swimmers at that.

Deer can swim up to 13 miles per hour because their bodies are perfect for the water! Deer have strong legs, and because of the hooves and toes – are extremely capable of swimming, even in rough waters like the ocean!

Some deer, like the White Tail Deer, actually have adaptations on their skin that help them swim in the water. Deer have very hollow hair – and it helps them stay afloat in the water, and almost makes it like they are floating on air.

Deer Can Jump Up To 10 Feet High

Just when you thought deer were only champion swimmers – the truth is, they would probably be amazing gymnasts as well.

Deer can jump up to 10 feet high in the air – this is why oftentimes, even if there is a fence – a deer can get over it!

With their strong leg muscles, deer can jump high or far in distance – but deer can’t do both at the same time.

Deer Have 310-Degree Vision

Deer have eyes on the side of their head – which gives them a superior field of vision!

Deer are dichromatic and only have two cones – green and blue. It is said that deer have 20/100 vision. But the thing about deer is that deer eyes are located on the sides of their head, which allows them to see almost double the perception (310 degrees to be exact) than a human can see!

Deer are extraordinary animals, and their eyesight helps them see hunters and predators.

If you have ever noticed a “Deer in headlights” it’s because they’ve seen something and froze – and because of its eye placement – it’s hard to sneak up on a deer.

The Largest Deer Went Extinct 10,000 Years Ago

Weighing 1,500lbs with an extinction date of 10,000 years ago, the Irish Giant Elk is considered to be the largest deer ever!

The Irish Giant Elk stood 7 feet tall, and its antlers could reach a spread of up to 13ft! The crazy thing about the Irish Giant Elk is that it’s actually not from Ireland, and it’s not even an elk – its fossils were just found in Ireland!

The Irish Giant Elk was seen through parts of Asia and Europe. But can you imagine a 7-foot deer wandering in your neighborhood woods, with 12-foot antlers – yikes!

Deer Fawns Have No Smell

Back to Fawns for a bit, another interesting fact about a fawn is that they are actually born without a smell!

Another adaption for survival, fawns are born without any scent – which makes it extremely hard for animals to detect it.

The momma deer will actually eat the baby’s feces to make sure that no scent is left behind. Gross.

If you ever see a fawn sleeping in a nearby tree – leave it alone! Do not touch it, because the second you do, the baby catches your scent, and can be easily found by predators.

Deer Are Herbivores

Deer are herbivores – which means they only eat plants. Have you ever seen deer at dusk come out, and start to feed? Well, that is deer feeding time, when they typically feed on grass!

Deer feed on plants, grass, twigs, weeds, nuts, fruits, mushrooms, acorns, seeds – basically – all the natural things the environment has to offer! Deer can eat up to 4 pounds of food a day!

Deer will fill their bodies with fat during the warmer months, so they don’t have to go out and feed so much in the winter!

For the first three months of life, fawns only drink their mother’s milk.

If you’re finding deer are eating your plants and vegetables (since they’re herbivores,) check out out guide to the best natural deer repellents here!

Deer Can Be A Threat To Humans

Since deer come in abundant quantities, they are one of the biggest mammals that are threatening to humans.

Although cute, and typically keeping to themselves, deer can cause problems for people, indirectly.

Firstly, deer carry bugs that can spread some nasty things to people. Second, they often can collide with cars and can cause car accidents. Third, deer will be a nuisance at that, since they love to feed on our plants and gardens.

Deer are also a threat to other wildlife in their environment, as they feed on the foods that other animals need to survive.

A deer community can eat all the available plants in the area, leaving birds and other animals with a scarce amount of food.

Deer Can’t See The Color Neon Orange

Like we spoke about earlier, deer only have two cones of color in their eyes – and because of that, deer can’t see the color neon orange!

Hunters often wear neon orange, because it camouflages them from deer. Deer see the colors in the blue family best, and the colors in the red family the worst.

Come to think of it – deer may have a hard time seeing cars, especially since they can’t differentiate the colors of the lights!

Deer Have Been Around For 10 Million Years

A deer presence was first discovered in Mongolia. Deer have been around for at least 10 million years – and they came to the United States about 4 million years ago.

Deer started out in parts of Asia and Europe and eventually migrated to the United States.

It is said that deer used the Alaskan Land Bridge, which has been underwater for hundreds of years, to come to North America.

Deer Aren’t Native To Australia

Deer are not native to Australia – and they were only introduced to Australia as game animals in the 19th century.

Australia has 6 species of deer, which is interesting since deer are native to North America and North America only has 3 species, but anyways…. they were first introduced to Australia by Dr. John Harris.

According to the Australian Deer Research Foundation, the 6 species of deer in Australia are:

  • Fallow deer
  • Chital
  • Red deer
  • Hog deer
  • Sambar
  • Rusa

Mississippi Has The Most Deer In The United States

white tail doe deer in forest

In the United States, Mississippi has the most deer.

There are at least 1.75 million deer in Mississippi which is about half of the entire Mississippi human population.

Deer Is Plural For Multiple Deer

In case you haven’t noticed, and a very confusing word to type out repeatedlydeer is the plural of deer, not deers.

Deer is one of the words, like fish and sheep, that is both the singular and plural form. Of course – there is a ton of information on the phonetics and orthography of the word – but let’s keep that for another day.

Deer Can Run Up To 30 Miles An Hour

Deer can run pretty fast – and can keep up with cars, as long as those cars are not going above 30 mph. 

If you are trying to deter deer from your yard and trees, there are a few easy things you can do.

Deer have long, strong legs that are perfect for running. Like we said earlier – deer are true athletes, and can jump, swim, and run like champions!

The only animals that can outrun a deer in the same living environment are dogs and horses!

Deer Symbolize Innocence

Deer are innocent creatures. They love to eat plants, they protect their young, and they are often coined as “deer in headlights” because honestly, these poor deer don’t really know any better.

Deer appreciate the finer things in life, like cool water from a stream, and acorns and nuts that fall from trees – and deer really are just doing their best.

Deer also offer a lot of benefits to the environment, and help regenerate plant growth!

All in all – deer symbolize innocence. They symbolize the kid in all of us. Deer are gentle giants, that can oftentimes remind us to slow down, smell the roses, and let free!

Deer Have An Incredible Sense Of Smell

Did you know that deer have an absolutely incredible sense of smell? Yes, it’s true!

If you’ve ever noticed how skittish deer are when you get even within a half mile of them, it’s because they either smell you nearby or hear you. Deer use their strong sense of smell to identify nearby predators and food sources.

Luckily, if you’re trying to repel deer, there are scents that deer hate. So, you can use these to repel them!

Deer Hate Cayenne Pepper

Piggy backing off of the sense of smell fact, deer absolutely hate cayenne pepper! Cayenne pepper is strong enough to where it irritates the sinus of a deer, causing them to first, not be able to identify potential predators nearby and second, not be able to identify food sources.

Plus, they really just don’t like the smell.

You can read our piece on how to repel deer with cayenne pepper here!

Female Deer Are Called Doe

Two yearling deers in the back yard

Since we know the male deer are called bucks, the baby deer are called fawns, it’s only fitting to talk about what a female deer is called and that’s a Doe.

Doe is a name given to female deer, kangaroos, and rabbits, and if you ever heard of the name Jane Doe – the name is from a female deer!

Doe means soft, and gentle-eyed, which fits the description of a female deer perfectly.  

The Maximum Life Span Of A Deer Is 20 Years In The Wild

In the wild, a deer can live up to 20 years of age. But it’s kind of unlikely. Deer typically live 3 years, but more times than not, up to 10. But again, they do have the potential to live up to 20 years if they are in the right environment.

The sad thing is, when deer live amongst people – they don’t really live past 3 years of age. They get intertwined with traffic, they eat the wrong things, they get hunted – they don’t flourish living with humans, and that’s why they don’t live very long lives.

Deer Love Pine Trees

Lastly, another fun fact about deer is that they absolutely adore pine trees! But it’s not only to eat – they love to lay in them!

Deer will find thick pine trees and will rest in them. They hide their younglings in the pine trees and will eat at the pinecones and foliage. Pine trees are thick enough to keep deer hidden from predators

All In All

Deer are awesome animals! They often live amongst us, and they go about their daily lives eating plants and nuts and are gentle creatures. Next time you see a deer – remember all the amazing things you now know about them!

If you’d like to learn more about repelling deer, take a peak at our guide on how to repel deer with rosemary here!

References

Rooney, T. P., & Waller, D. M. (2003, August). Direct and indirect effects of white-tailed deer in forest ecosystems. Forest Ecology and Management, 181(1-2), 165-176. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378112703001300

Rost, G. R., & Bailey, J. A. (1979, July). Distribution of Mule Deer and Elk in Relation to Roads. Journal of Wildlife Management, 43(3), 634-641. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3808741

Unsworth, J. W., Pac, D. F., White, G. C., & Bartmann, R. M. (1999, January). Mule Deer Survival in Colorado, Idaho, and Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management, 63(1), 315-326. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3802515

Waller, D. M., & Alverson, W. S. (1997, Summer). The White-Tailed Deer: A Keystone Herbivore. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 25(2), 217-226. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3783435

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