Woman vs. Whitetail: Hearing, Vision & Smell

Comparing a deer to a human being might seem silly, but when you break it down, the deer are just built differently and understanding how they work will give you some distinct advantages in the field.  There is a lot of false information out there about the abilities of deer that almost make them into mythical creatures, but here is what the real research has had to say.

Much thanks to The University of Georgia Whitetail Deer Research Facility that is just pumping out real information that so many people can learn from distinguishing fact from fiction.

Woman vs. Whitetail: Hearing

how well can deer hear

Human beings have a mediocre sense of hearing compared to many creatures, but research out of the University of Georgia shows that, contrary to what most think, deer hear only a little bit better than we do.  We hear best in the 3,000-5,000 hertz range, while deer seem to hear best around 3,000-8,000 hertz range. So, they can hear at higher frequencies. The advantage that they have are those massive ears! Have you ever seen deer swivel those ears and move them when a noise occurs? It is likely they are pinpointing the location…and those ears can capture massive amounts of sound out there.  So, clanging your gun against something will make the deer run another direction. They may not hear sounds that much better than us, but they know what is out of place, and where sounds come from.

Advantage: White-Tailed Deer

Woman vs Whitetail: Vision

how well can deer see

The eyes of a deer do not function like human eyes in many ways…they’re built for their survival. Human beings have eyes that pick up on a wonderful array of colors, we don’t see very well in the dark, and motion is able to be picked up although not always as well as we might hope. For deer, they have some distinct advantages – but this is understandable…when you are natural prey, you’ve got to have the tools to survive and deer eyes are built for survival.

The University of Georgia study found that deer have about 10 times the amount of light that enters their eye (they’re big eyes), so they see far better in the dark. They also can see a greater range around them…about 312 degrees because of the eye’s location on the head. When animals are prey in the wild, it is to their advantage to have eyes that can see a bigger scope around them.

We are predators, so we have our eyes straight in front of our face. Unfortunately this means that we don’t have the visual range deer do naturally and have to turn our heads.  Another interesting finding is that although deer have such keen vision at night, their vision during the day is about the same as ours – but not in color ability or detecting motion. Humans can see a wide range of colors, hues and can distinguish them quite well. Deer are basically sensitive to blues and yellows, and have a hard time distinguishing reds and greens, or picking up on the brightness of blaze orange safety colors. Good news for us! One thing to keep in mind though, is that deer are far more able to detect movement than we are.

So while you shouldn’t hesitate to wear your bright orange, don’t wear blues (even your jeans) that they could distinguish…and if you’re spotted by a deer out there, the old advice to stand still is absolutely the right advice.

Advantage: Woman


Woman vs Whitetail: Smell

deer sense of smell

We know that human beings can be woefully bad when it comes to our sense of smell. While it serves our purposes, we have other senses that we rely on – like visual recognition. I don’t think many of us smell a bowl of ice cream to know what it is. Whitetail use scent as their number one way of identifying things. They use smell to identify each other, learn about each other, detect predators and even to locate food. The tarsal glad is by far the most important glad on a whitetail, and if you have even landed a buck you likely know that smell (it’s not a pleasant one).  Scent is absolutely one of the most important senses it has in its everyday life. There are about 7 glandular areas on deer that give other deer information. Research still doesn’t quite understand how deer pick up information from what they smell in the air and how deer process that information…but what we do know, is that if the information is out there, deer will likely receive it. When out hunting, be sure that you know your wind direction, that you are aware of the odors you are giving off, and be informed about how you use scent to get the right effect.

Advantage: White-Tailed Deer

Deer in Spring photo by:  Crow 911 via Flickr
8-point Buck photo by: Jerbec via Flickr
Deer nose photo by: Spamily via Flickr