Whitetail Deers Sense Of Hearing

Section #3: How Do Whitetail Deer Use Their Hearing For Survival


            As you progress in your whitetail deer hunting journey, you will want to learn about the whitetail deers sense of hearing, so that you can more effectively hunt them. The whitetail deer’s sense of hearing has frustrated many a hunter and has ruined many a hunt. To become a more successful deer hunter, the informed hunter would be well advised to learn as much about a deer’s abilities as possible. The goal of this article is to help educate and inform deer hunters so they may be more successful in the field.

Grunt, Snort-Wheeze, and Rattle this to your buddies!

whitetail deer sense of hearing

Several years ago, a University of Georgia “Deer Lab” study recorded research that found out much information about the deer’s sense of  hearing. Deer were placed in a soundproof testing booth and their brains were monitored to observe the responses they made to the sounds projected in the booth. Using this setup, many different facts about the whitetail deers sense of hearing were obtained.


Do Deer Hear Better Than Humans?

The biggest fact that surprises people is that deer cannot hear that much better than humans. Humans can hear frequencies from anywhere around 20-20,000 Hz, and our best hearing is around 3,500 Hz. Deer hear best around 3,000-8,000 Hz. The main point to take away from these numbers is that both human and deer hearing have similar capabilities. This is a useful fact to keep in mind. While they have a marginal advantage in hearing capabilities, they do not have the ultra-powerful hearing of canines. This is good news, but their hearing is still far superior to humans in other ways. While the scientific capabilities of their audible systems are not much better than humans, the ways they can utilize their ears provides a huge advantage. 

Anatomical Aspects  

Deer can use each of their ears independently of one another, which is a huge advantage over humans. To hear our surroundings better, humans must rotate their whole head. Deer also have large ears that capture sound better than humans’ smaller ears. Whitetails are also able to more effectively determine where the noise came from, because they can point both their ears in the same direction. 

Instant Unnatural Sound Detection

One of the reasons that humans are so wary of the whitetail’s hearing is their ability to detect potential out-of-place noises. Whenever a deer hears a sound that is not around them in Nature each day, they become very alert. While they hear many different sounds in the wilderness, they can easily identify man made noises.

Some examples of sounds that are obviously human are:

  • Metal on metal noises
  • Slick-type clothing materials
  • Zippers
  • Human body noises (talking, sneezing, etc.)

Hunters should try to limit as many of these noises as possible. By limiting these noises you will be more likely to successfully harvest a whitetail. One easy way to do this is not to walk in the same trudging pattern while you walk through the woods. Deer associate this with humans. Instead, try to mix up your steps and pause occasionally. This is one easy to implement tactic that can make the difference between an unsuccessful hunt and a successful hunt.

Part Of Survival Senses

While the deer’s hearing ability is nothing for a hunter to take lightly, there are other abilities that can more often ruin your hunt. It is important to keep a deer’s sense of sight and smell in mind, just as much, if not more than a deer’s sense of hearing. Make sure that you are playing the wind properly and staying out of sight to be more successful. If you pay attention to the sight, scent, and hearing abilities of a deer, you will have a great chance of having a successful hunt!

Once a deer has sensed a threat, every sense the deer possesses will be used to analyze that danger source. The best way to avoid a whitetail deers hearing is to avoid being sensed by their formidable eyes and nose. Once a deer hears a noise, all senses will be focused on determining whether the noise came from a threat. If the whitetail decides you are not a threat, they will go back to their task at hand and only passively monitor their surroundings. If a deer happens to detect you, try not to move for a few minutes, or at least until you can see the deer relax. 

How Can We Overcome A Deers Sense Of Hearing?

There are many ways that hunters can reduce the effectiveness of the whitetail’s hearing. If you are moving through the brush or timber to get to a stand, use common sense. Take your time, plan ahead and allow yourself enough time to move slowly. Pause frequently while you walk and change up your pace. Try using a squirrel call, or you can try using rattling horns or a grunt call once in a while. Once you get up in your stand, set up everything in a way that won’t cause any unwanted noise. Take the time beforehand to silence your equipment. Give yourself every edge over a whitetails sense of hearing when the time comes to harvest your trophy. 

Wrap Up

While a deer has hearing capabilities close to that of a human, keep in mind that they have much larger practical advantages, which makes their hearing more formidable than ours. While their ears can cause hunters trouble, there is no need to stress too much about it. By using common sense, hunters can minimize the effectiveness of the whitetail deers sense of hearing. Understanding how a whitetail deer hears, smells, and sees will help you be successful in harvesting mature deer.


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