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Today, we’re looking at how many deer are in a herd. Unless you live in an urban area, deer are a reasonably common animal to see in nature and near human development. Though they are shy, deer and humans frequently interact in ways that can sometimes cause issues for both.
Deer play an important role in our environment, but some people consider them pests that need to be dealt with. To coexist peacefully with this woodland creature, it’s important we learn more about deer so we can better understand how to interact with them.
In the long run, this will benefit both the deer and us.
In This Guide:
Deer Species Found In North America
There are dozens of different species of deer worldwide, but not all can be found in North America. There are seven species of deer roaming around North America. These include:
- The white-tailed deer
- Mule deer
When we picture a deer, Bambie often comes to mind. Bambie is an example of a white-tailed deer, the most commonly seen deer worldwide.
However, mule deer and their subspecies, the blacktail deer, look very similar to the white-tailed deer, and the three are often mistaken for each other. The easiest way to tell the difference between them is location. White-tailed deer are most commonly found East of the Rocky Mountains, while mule deer are only found to the West.
Let’s take a look at deer herds. We’ll look at the surprisingly hard-to-answer question of how many deer are in a herd and deer families and relationships.
How Many Deer Are In a Herd?
The question is more difficult to answer than one may expect. It depends on various factors, including deer species, male or female, location, and time of year.
For example, the moose is a solitary creature except in mating season when one male will gather a small herd of females they wish to mate with together.
Whereas white-tailed female deer consistently stay in small herds of three to five deer, the males also travel in similarly small numbers except in mating season when they split off to find a mate. During winter, the male and female groups may join larger herds for protection.
What Is a Deer Herd?
Deer are social animals that prefer to travel together in groups known as herds. As mentioned, these herds can vary in size and composition depending on the species and time of year. Deer herds often have a hierarchy with a dominant male or female leading the group.
Certain species of deer have either patriarchal or matriarchal social hierarchies. Deer travel in herds to forage for food and protection against predators. Deer are active during the day and are typically most active around dawn and dusk, which is the most likely time to encounter a deer in the wild.
Foraging for food together also adds protection from predators, as large groups are safer than traveling alone. Mothers are particularly protective of their young; the herd often bands together to protect them.
Age and sickness might prevent a deer from keeping up with the moving herd and make them more vulnerable to predator attacks.
What Is A Deer Family?
There are two possibilities when referring to a deer family. The first describes the classification of deer as mammals, wherein deer belong to the Cervidae family. This category encompasses over 40 species of deer worldwide.
The second meaning of family is a more human definition of a small group of relations. A deer family consists of a mother and her fawns who spend the most time together.
During mating season, it is more common to find solitary deer roaming in search of a mate. When the male finds a mate, he often stays with her until she gets pregnant.
A deer pregnancy has a gestation period of six months. The buck is highly protective of his female and will fight other males to defend her. However, once she is impregnated, the buck will head off to breed with another doe. Male deer can breed up to six separate times in a season.
Deer vary greatly in size depending on the species. The Southern Pudu is one of the smallest at around 20 lbs compared to the moose, the largest breed at nearly 1,400 lbs.
All deer have several common characteristics that span across species. These include four long, spindly legs with cloven hooves, a short tail, and a set of antlers for a full-grown male. Most deer have fur coats ranging from shades of brown, red, or gray.
How to Tell a Male From a Female Deer
Male deer are known as bucks, and female deer are called does. The easiest way to differentiate a buck from a doe is to look for antlers. Male fawns start to develop antlers as soon as four to five months, but they will not become noticeable until around one to one and a half years of age.
Bucks shed their antlers every winter and regrow them in the spring. Antlers can also help identify the age of the deer since the more points the antlers have, generally between six and ten, the older the buck is.
By contrast, a doe’s appearance does not change much throughout her life unless she is pregnant. Doe are identified by their lack of antlers, and often the presence of young fawns, particularly in the spring.
The current deer population in the United States is approximately 35 to 36 million. This includes all deer species combined.
Broken down by state, Texas boasts the highest deer population at 5.5 million. Rhode Island, no surprise given its small area, only has around 18,000 total deer.
Though they prefer to live in forests, deer have adapted to many habitats, allowing their numbers to grow. The deer population is stable, and regular hunting seasons keep populations in check.
Tips on Managing Deer
Most people hope to coexist with deer in relative harmony. To accomplish this, there are some things we can implement to manage deer, especially in urban and suburban areas.
The easiest method is fencing. Tall fencing around gardens, yards, and other places deer are unwanted to help prevent their access. Some people use repellents on their plants when landscaping and gardening. This can cause harm to the environment. It is better to search for local plants that deer avoid to act as a natural yard repellent.
Scare tactics such as loud noises are effective at getting rid of deer since they spook easily. Barking dogs easily frighten deer and make them run for the safety of the woods. Finally, road signs and deer-friendly road designs like underpasses and overpasses help motorists avoid collisions with deer.
Wildlife overpasses and underpasses provide a safe crossing for animals while not interfering with traffic flow. Deer have been shown to adapt and learn how to use the crossings.
Night time or seasonal speed limits on certain roads that cross deers’ habitats are also valuable tools.
How Many Fawns Does a Doe Have?
A doe reaches maturity at around one year and can begin reproducing at that time. Female deer typically reproduce every year for about ten years leading to a lot of offspring during their lifetime.
A doe can give birth to one to three fawns at once, but the most common number appears to be two. Fawns are weaned after several months but stay with their mother for up to one year before setting off on their own.
Should You Feed Deer?
Many wildlife experts will say not to feed deer for several reasons. First, it increases their chance for disease since their stomachs cannot digest unnatural foods nearly as well as their regular, natural diet. Second, it increases their reliance on humans and encourages them to move into more urbanized areas which is harmful.
Deers wandering onto roads and in people’s back gardens can lead to injury. Deer might also attract larger predators such as wolves or mountain lions in certain regions whose presence near humans is obviously undesirable. For wildlife watchers, it’s better just to observe any deer you might encounter but leave them be.
Deer are fascinating creatures that play an important role in our environment. Humans and deer will continue to interact, especially with the increased urbanization of former woodlands.
Habitat preservation is an integral part of protecting deer herds. Learning more about these beautiful animals helps humans better coexist with them.