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Bald Spots on Deer

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"Why do deer, especially up north, oftentimes have missing hair?

QUESTION: Bob, I watch a lot of hunting shows and have always wondered why so many deer, especially the big ones in places like Iowa and further up north, oftentimes have large sections of hair missing on their backs and sides? - Duane F.

Bald Spots on Deer

ANSWER: This phenomenon occurs throughout the whitetail’s range, but it is most common in areas with barbed wire fencing. 

While deer certainly have the physical ability to jump most fences, sometimes they simply choose to slide underneath. This conserves energy and requires less effort, especially for those big-bodied northern deer, and is an easier option than making a big leap.

Over a period of time, repetitious contact with fencing creates bald spots and hairless streaks in a deer’s hollow and brittle hair. 

Another possibility is, when deer are infested with ectoparasites, they will often take advantage of a fence or fence post by rubbing against it to scratch the itch. This will also cause ruffled hair and hairless spots.

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