Deer Tracks and Signs

Deer Tracks

Deer Tracks

The print of a deer’s cloven hoof is a split heart shape. The pointed end is forward. Size varies greatly from region to region and from one subspecies to another. Most tracks are between 2 and 3 inches long on relatively hard ground. If they are much smaller, a fawn probably made them.

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Many experienced whitetail hunters believe they can tell a buck’s track from a doe’s. They say a buck’s hoof lobes splay, sometimes so much that the front of the track is wider than the rear. But a heavy old doe often has splayed hooves.

Both bucks and does run with a rocking horse motion, causing the hind prints sometimes to register ahead of the foreprints and forming a slightly zigzag line. Tracks don’t bunch up in the manner of a bounding mule deer—except in deep snow, which forces high leaps. The trail will likely be 5 or 6 inches wide and the walking stride a foot or so long. Running strides may be stride 6 feet or more.

Deer Signs

Deer Signs

What's a buck rub?

Buck rubs are long polished scars that you can see. They’re found low on saplings and bushes where the deer’s antlers have scraped away bark. Rubs signify that a buck inhabits the area.

What does a deer bedding spot look like?

Look very carefully. Bedding spots are slight depressions or ovals where the leaves have been pressed by body weight. Unless a deer has been scuffling up the leaves and brush, a bed may be almost indiscernible. A bedding depression on snow is more noticeable.

How can I tell if a deer is in the area?

Again, look very carefully. Browsed vegetation is also recognizable, even when low enough to have been nibbled by rabbits. A deer has no upper incisors for snipping. Bites are ragged rather than trim. Droppings, too, are readily identified. Very early in the season, scat is sometimes tubular and segmented or even amorphous (having no definite form), if deer have been feeding on succulent vegetation. But throughout most of the fall and winter, it takes the form of hard, dark pellets, sometimes round but more often slightly oblong or acorn-shaped and averaging about 3/4 of an inch long.

Copyright 2023 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd