Deer and Antlers

Deer and Antlers

I had such a narrow understanding of deer before doing this bit of research. I thought deer had a certain kind of antler and the rest were ‘something other than deer’. I think it goes back to my dad hunting deer and coming back with the familiar antlers with a certain number of points.

It’s funny how we create our mental maps and are surprised when reality proves to be something different. Here’s the biggest surprise for me: Did you know that a moose is a deer? He’s just bigger and heavier with massive antlers, but he belongs to the same family. I honestly thought they were different families! Elk, too! All ‘deer’! I’m wondering how many of you knew this already. 

Deer border on mythic. They are profound symbols in religion, heraldry, literature and mythology. They’ve appeared in paleolithic paintings and art forms throughout the millennia. Their antlers make them unique, often majestic in appearance. 

On a more basic level, deer are ruminants. Like cattle, goats, giraffes, yaks and antelopes, deer acquire nutrients from the plant-based foods they consume through a fermentation process in a stomach prior to digestion. Remember the expression ‘chewing the cud’? The deer’s cud is regurgitated and chewed again to further break down the plant matter. The process is known as rumination.

I had to laugh, because ‘ruminating’ is one of my favorite writer words, you know, to really mull something over. I will hereafter and forever be reminded of the ruminant digestive process when I use this word. I think it will make me smile every time.

FunFacts About Deer and Antlers (Source) (Source) (Source)

  • Deer are part of the Cervidae family that include moose, reindeer, elk and other species.
  • Deer are found on all the continents except Australia and Antarctica.
  • Antlers aren’t a true bone structure and usually grow in pairs.
  • Antlers vary from species to species.
  • Deer grow new antlers each year.
  • Antlers only grow on males, with the exception of caribou (reindeer).
  • Antlers serve to attract females and are used as weapons for fighting.
  • Deer jump high and swim well.
  • Designations:
    • A male deer: buck
    • A large male deer: stag
    • A female deer: doe
    • A young deer: fawn
    • A group of deer: herd
  • Most deer are born with white spots but lose them within a year.
  • Within half an hour of their birth, fawns take their first steps.
  • A fawn stays with its mother for about a year.

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***This week’s giveaway is Now Closed!***

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August Winners: Tamara K., Marie S. 

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*** This week’s giveaway! *** To be entered into the giveaway drawing, please leave a comment about Deer and Antlers? Did you know moose and elk were part of the deer family? Have you ever had deer encounters? Have you suffered with deer chomping on your garden? How did you deal with it? Which photo did you like best? Feel free to share whatever comes to mind and share from the heart. 

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34 thoughts on “Deer and Antlers

  1. Deer are not native to Australia. In fact I think that they would be low on the food chain.

    I did not know that moose were part of the deer family, but thinking about it it makes sense.

  2. I know little about deer, and I haven’t had much contact with deer, but I know more now thanks to your post! My favorite pic is the one with the 2 deer in the snowy setting, they are cuties. The one thing I found interesting that I learned awhile ago, is that sometimes the horns are fuzzy.

    • Shannon,
      It’s fun to pick up tidbits here and there. I knew about fuzzy antlers, but not that moose were deer, lol!

  3. I didn’t know that moose and elk are in the same family as deer but it makes sense because they are the only ones with antlers. I enjoyed reading all the facts you found about the species. I have not had any interaction with deer in the wild only in our city zoo. I loved all the pictures, they all looked majestic and regal.

  4. I did know that moose and elk were part of the deer family. When we lived in Kentucky we would put salt blocks out for the deer every fall/winter. I was great watching them.

    • Nancy, what a great memory to have. We have deer living in the White Tank hills nearby, but I’ve never seen them. Of course, we have mountain lions in there, as well. I won’t be visiting any time soon, lol!

  5. Deer run ramped around here in UpState NY. When I first served parishes out West- Dakotas- they would warn us about mule deer stampedes. Now, I’m a suburbs girl, we rarely saw them. But, when they radio announcer tells you as you drive down a highway to (1) ignore the ‘deer whistles” a parishioner so proudly mounted on your bumper, and (2) that the better deterrent is a random car horn blowing, who do you trust?

    Wasn’t all that worried until I saw a bunch (25-30)of yearling males congregating along a stretch of railroad track in far western South Dakota. The glowing eyes were like LED light…small and intense…and scary.

    Yes, they can be majestic as Moose, elk and even a grown male with a full rack. But, I’d rather eat venison that tangle with it alive

    • Andrea,
      I can’t imagine what it was like to see a herd that size so close to the tracks. The way you’ve described them sounds horror-movie scary. When we think of deer, it’s usually in a fond, ‘Bambi’ kind of way. Um…there’s nothing tender about a whole bunch of young bucks clustered together. Time to run!

  6. There are deers in Nara and they run wild around the temple and are part of the tourist attraction. You can even buy biscuits to feed the deer!

  7. I never thought of moose being in the deer family for some reason lol. I love the fawn. I have to admire the little spotted deer with the big horns. They are huge. Fortunately we have a abundance of deer here in North East Tennessee. Although they are getting to be so many you have to be extra careful.Every body in my family has hit a deer this year. Fortunately it didn’t kill them but did a number on my and 1 of my daughters car.Even though they are abundant I still am spell struck when I see these wonderful animals.

  8. I live in the country surrounded by woods and we have a pond so deer come by our property quite frequently. Nearly every day we spot at least one. A few years ago we had a cat that made friends with a particular deer. They would chase each other and then lay down next to each other. This spring we had a mama leave her two babies right behind our house for the day. They were adorable and I found it amazing that they would stay in roughly the same spot the whole day while the mom was out and about.

  9. I live in the country (NC) surrounded by woods. There are only five houses on our cul-de-sac.

    All of us have accepted the fact that deer are being forced out of their habitat due to excessive housing construction. Housing developments are creeping ever closer to our area.

    Thankfully, since we all have 3-5 acre lots the deer at least have a small but safe area to live as long as they don’t wander farther out, which being deer they do.

    We expect to have about 40% damage to the landscaping, but hey, they are entitled to eat.

    In the winter, the neighbors and I leave deer food in the woods near the shelters made with huge pine branches. They use them.

    It’s so satisfying to see the mother’s with their baby fawns.

    Sadly, hunters trespass here and many deer are shot anyway. Even out of season. *sighs*

    One thing I detest seeing are stuffed animal heads on a wall. Any animal.

  10. I have deer eating from my bird feeders and don’t mind at all. It keeps them from eating plants that aren’t deer resistant. Deer are cool to have around, but I have to drive very carefully, starting at dusk, so they don’t catapult themselves at my vehicle. All in all I would rather have them around than not. It just takes some adjustments to coexist. Oh, I live in Waterville, Minnesota, close to the Iowa border.

  11. Interesting topic today – full of many memories for me. I live in a part of the country where deer are very plentiful. Destructively plentiful. Consequently, my Dad’s antler rifle rack seemed normal to me as a kid, and venison (deer meat) was a common part of our diet. We were taught to shoot and hunt at a young age. Now before I get bombarded by the Bambi lovers, we did not hunt for sport or waste any thing we shot. This was a way to feed ourselves. There was a reason Little House on the Prairie was so popular in the mid-west. Many of us were still living it in many ways. Deer is still an issue today. Eight foot fences now surround many of our orchards and fields – not that is always does much good. As noted, deer can jump quite high.

    I used to live across from an old apple orchard that had been fenced as a horse pasture. The deer like to come graze with the horses. Last year there were a pair twins I named Mary Kate and Ashley who would stop by at about five in the afternoon for a snack. I loved to watch them. I never actually saw them, but some critter, about the size of a deer or two, liked to bed down out behind my Lilac bush. I kept trying to find them there but sadly had no luck.

    Now, as for Bambi – that was one of my son’s favorite movies when he was two and three. He watched it just about every day – at least once, sometimes two or three times – for months. What is it with kids wanting the same story over and over again? Another blog.

  12. Love all the pictures and my favorites are #5, #6 & #8. I’ve only see deer in person at the Catskill Animal Farm at Upstate N.Y. My kids were young and loved feeding them. The fawns are so adorable. I don’t have any where I live but I know people complain especially if they have gardens – buy hey, the deer have to love too. I hate where hunters kill them just for the sake of the killing – happens to so many animals today and that’s so sad. They are God’s creatures too.

  13. I live in northern Indiana, home to herds of deer. I have seen as many as 15 deer in my backyard eating apples off of my trees. They also eat sweet potato plants and rose bushes.

  14. I live in upstate New York. We have lots of deer here. My property borders on the woods. We often have deer in the yard. They are mythic, but destructive. I had a large, beautiful Rhododendron for years. During the winter they ate it and it died. It wasn’t covered because Rhododendrons are supposed to be poisonous and deer resistant.

  15. I work in the city, but we are talking about Vermont here lol. So, I see a lot of deer in the early mornings running across the field at the preschool I teach at. The most amazing thing though was just about a month ago. I was leaning up against the windows waiting for the kids to arrive. Just daydreaming and eating my cereal. All of a sudden a young moose just walked across my field of vision in the horse shoe driveway haha. I was so excited, because it was the very first moose I have ever seen in the wild. I never expected to see a moose in the parking lot/driveway of my work! I wish I could post a pic here…so you can see.

  16. I kind of live in the woods and we have SO many deer. They are beautiful. If you are lucky you can find shed antlers in the woods. But be quick. The bugs eat them quickly.

    • Jovial Vampyre,
      I didn’t know that about antlers, that the bugs ate them. But it makes sense since they’re not actually made of bone. Thanks for sharing!

  17. We were riding the tram through the (now) San Diego Zoo Safari Park when a Mule deer doe and fawn came walking past the cars on their way to one of the open enclosures to join in the daily feeding session. These pictures reminded me of that incident with our local freeloaders.

  18. I have seen plenty of deer, ate deer which I am not fond of but had married into a family that were hunters and what they shot they ate. A lot unusual for a city girl! But the encounters that I will always remember is the white buck I saw when I worked at a warehouse in VA, that was a beautiful specimen but what made it even more eerie was the ground fog! The other encounters I loved was seeing the HUGE elk un in Norther CA, those babies were HUGE!! They dominated the road. So many were around and on the side of the hill loved seeing it. Nodeer eating my gardens ever.

  19. My friend had surgery, and I went over to her house to walk her dog one day. A couple of deer startled me during the walk. In suburbia. We had a stare down for a sec, then I continued with the walk. Her dog didn’t even notice. lol. Perhaps the snow on the ground masked the scent. I see them the next street over in my neighborhood, but they never seem to make it up my hill. Foxes do.

    I’m near the state line, and a farm that straddles the MD/PA line has reindeer. They used to bring them to the mall the day Santa arrived until the disease they get (similar to mad cow disease, but specific to deer) prompted a state law forbidding the animals to come into the state. They have to keep the reindeer on the PA side.


  20. I have enjoyed all these stories so much! I may not be able to respond to each comment, but I’ve loved reading about all your experiences. Thank you, Everyone, for sharing!

    Hugs all around,

  21. My favorite picture is the 2 babies. I love Deer and cannot eat deer meat. I know when a car hits a deer that people and the deer get hurt or killed, and there is a lot of damage to the cars. They are just too sweet looking!

  22. We were driving back one night from Austin to Willow City in Tx and once we turned on the road to the house we counted 56 deer over the 23 mile stretch of road. The bad thing was it was very foggy and so they were hard to see (thank goodness for reflective eyes!) They say that for every deer you see like that there are about 10 more that you don’t. Not sure how accurate that is but I know that we missed a bunch due to the fog.
    My brother-in-law feeds deer year round at their home (on 11 acres). Totally enjoy the deer (and turkeys) that come to feed

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