Whitetail Deer Behavior Habits, Get to know your Deer

Hunting for whitetail deer can be incredibly rewarding and exhilarating. However, it is not always easy to get a large, male buck, let alone a doe. The good news is that the more you understand the behavior of whitetail deer, the more likely you will be to enjoy success in your hunting.

This article will discuss the whitetail deer behavior habits of the elusive whitetail deer and will give you tips and hints on how to hunt them with success.

Whitetail deer are very prevalent throughout North America and they are the USA’s most common land mammal. This makes them very popular when it comes to hunting even though it is not always easy to do so.

These deer have shy personalities, very muscular bodies, an excellent sense of smell and good hearing.


Before the mating season (which takes place every fall and is known as the pre-rut season), whitetail deer bucks often fight against each other to assert dominance and to gain the right to mate with their chosen does in the surrounding area.

If you really want to hunt a whitetail deer with success, it is always a good idea to hunt during the early hours of the morning or at dusk as this is when they are most active. Their territories are quite small, being only 1 square mile (or even less).

Generally speaking, whitetail deer gather in groups of only males or only females. These herding groups like to graze together, especially in the summer.

During the warmer months, male deer will begin to prepare for the mating season (or rut). Rut normally starts in early September and bucks will think nothing of fighting one another to be able to mate with the females in the nearby area.

Does and Fawns

After the mating season, does will usually remain pregnant during the winter months and will then give birth to fawns at the start of spring.

Baby deer, or fawns, have white spots which will disappear when they are a few months old. Female whitetail deer are always very protective of their young and will only leave them alone for very short periods when they need to graze.

When the doe is away, fawns tend to lie very still in the thick grass or floor of the woods. This is to help them remain camouflaged against possible predators.

After about 6 months of age, fawns will have been completely weaned from their mothers but enjoy staying with the mother deer until she gives birth once again.

When a fawn reaches the age of 1 year, it will be sexually mature but will generally not mate until it reaches the age of 18 months.

Normally, a young fawn will only give birth to 1 young deer during her first breeding season. Thereafter, she will give birth to twin fawn pairs during each subsequent mating season.

If you want to find a whitetail deer, it is a good idea to check near water sources (such as rivers, streams, marshes, lakes and swamps) as they like to bed down close to water.

Unfortunately, whitetail deer are very difficult to spot as they are masters of camouflage and can easily blend in with their surroundings, no matter what time of year it is.

During the spring and summer, whitetail deer are a reddish-brown but they change to a gray brown color during the winter months.

As the fall progresses and you are hunting for whitetail deer, if the temperatures reach the single figures, you will be more likely to spot whitetail deer around midday as they are more active then.


To find a feeding whitetail deer, you will need to understand how they feed during each season. In the spring and summer, they like grazing in fields and meadows where there is plenty of food. During the colder months, especially in winter, they enjoy moving into the woods where they will eat twigs, sticks and bark and also remain more protected from the cold weather.

On the Hunting trail Hunting

Always be careful about getting too close to whitetail deer without odor control as they have a very sensitive sense of smell and can sense a human from quite a distance off. They can even detect the smell of a person in the underbrush several days after and will retreat in order to protect themselves. This is one of the reasons that a hide is very useful.

When hunting, wear camouflaged clothing and an orange vest. In doing so, you will be easily spotted by other hunters but the deer will be less likely to see you because deer see in shades of gray therefore an orange vest with a cameo pattern will do best

To attract a whitetail deer, consider providing them with a salt block or other kind of food but check what your state laws are in this regard.

Antler Sheds

Male whitetails will lose their antlers each year and finding shed antlers is a great way to supplement your hunting activities by spending quality time with friends and family. Shed hunting can also allow you to count the number of male deer that are still around so that you can adjust your hunting accordingly.

It is normal for chipmunks and squirrels to chew on shed antlers and this can reduce them to almost nothing. Try to make a point of finding the antlers when you know they usually fall in your area and before the squirrels and chipmunks get to them.

When you are hunting for that elusive male whitetail deer and you are not in a hide or

tree stand, be sure to walk very slowly and carefully. Always look directly in front of you

(and not into the distance) as you could easily miss your target.

We recommend always bringing a pair of good quality binoculars with you when

you are hunting for a deer or looking for shed antlers. This can save you a lot of walking

around and unnecessary frustration.


Because whitetail deer are by nature very skittish, you need to keep your

distance and exercise a little patience. In doing so, you will be rewarded for your efforts !

3 thoughts on “Whitetail Deer Behavior Habits, Get to know your Deer”

  1. I can remember lots of long early morning hours out with my uncle hunting. We would hunker up into a deer stand and wait. If we were patient enough we were always rewarded with a whitetail or two. I learned at an early age stillness and odor were the most important. Besides hide would you recommend a particular odor control you can use?

    • Yes their senses is extremely sharp, for odor control I am using “Dead Down Wind” the full package. I take a shower every time before I go out and wash my apparel after about 4 trips and store them in a sealed tote but make no mistake they will smell your Colgate breath from a mile away and then you would not understand why your odor control is not working. I do take coffee with me but drink it straight out the of the flask, an open cup of coffee’s aroma is going to hang heavy on an early morning breeze.

  2. Interesting, to read about the activities of these white-tailed deer.  They are wonderful works of nature.

    When I was about 12, my dad and uncle used to go out in the woods to cut firewood to sell.  Once, they found a baby deer.  Either the mother was off doing her deer thing or a hunter had gotten her.  The baby was not really hidden.  Anyway, they brought it home and it made a great pet.  It loved playing with the dogs and riding in the truck.  It would get up on the beds in the house and bounce up and down until tired, then go to sleep on the spot.  When I practiced piano, the deer would come and sit under the keyboard by my feet.  What a sweet pet!


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