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How To Read Whitetail Body Language

Our major mode of communication may be words, but our body language is just as instructive. Without speaking, facial expressions communicate messages. A frown, a grin, a raised eyebrow, a wink, or a curled lip may all be translated. Gestures can also be used to replace words. Shrugs, nods, waves, beckoning motions, and other hand gestures all convey clear information. These are just a handful of the many ways we communicate with one another via our bodies.

Body language is also an essential part of the animal kingdom’s communication system. This nonverbal communication might be used as a warning, a sign of submissiveness, or a means of attracting the opposite sex. Bristling hair, bared fangs, and relaxed ears, whether shown by a coyote, javelina, porcupine, deer, dog, cat, or horse, are unmistakable warning signs. Submissiveness is demonstrated by an animal groveling on the ground with its vulnerable belly or throat exposed, as well as a dog slinking away with its tail tucked between its hind legs.

Some birds use colorful plumage displays and body motions to attract mates and are an essential part of their courting rituals. These are some of the several ways animals communicate with one another through their bodies.

Relaxed form

This is the state in which deer spend most of their time (at least theoretically). An alert hunter will notice clear signs from a calm whitetail. The location of your head and ears is the first step. When they are calm, most whitetails spin their ears regularly and raise and drop their head, however, there are small differences from one group to the next and even one deer to the next. These are what you could call “casual” movements; there is no specific target of attention, simply the normal scanning in all directions that a prey animal would do. As supplementary protection, the ears spin and scan to detect predators approaching from different directions.

When calm, the deer’s neck should be relaxed, not erect in an alert stance, and the deer will frequently chew, which is an indication of relaxation. The deer’s body will be relaxed, and they will move or eat with low knees, expending as little energy as possible. Look for deer kicking or tossing their heads to get rid of flies throughout the summer or early fall – this is generally an indication that tiny biting insects are their main worry at the moment.

The tail is the actual key here. When a deer flicks its tail left and right, it is typically calm. The hair on the body will stay flat as well. Because it can be seen from a distance, the tail posture and movement is an important indication for us when we’re hunting. Most of you have probably seen it: when a mother doe gets aware and pauses in her tracks, her fawn(s) will also halt. If the doe concludes that whatever triggered the warning was a false alarm, she will wag her tail back and forth to signal to her offspring that everything is well.

The Ear Drop

The ears of deer communicate the intensity of danger. If the ears are held outward from the body, it’s the lowest form of threat. The ear position and a stern look convey status. 

Busted

Alert ears forward are listening intently and facing the perceived threat. The nose is testing the limits of your scent-control system and eyes are laser-focused for the unnatural movements.

Tail Half Lifted

Deer live in groups and within each is dominant deer. Every other deer has a place in the hierarchy. This buck is dominant within an early fall batch group.

Rotatory Eyes

Deer rotate their eyes listening in front and behind simultaneously, especially when bedded. Silence your movements as much as you can. 

Fearful

If a deer sees a definite threat that poses imminent danger, they will almost always flee, waving their characteristic “white-tail” over their backs. Suspicious deer, on the other hand, do not always flee at the first sign of danger. Instead, they’ll lift their head and activate their ears and nose, although this will be accompanied by other symptoms of nervousness.

The tail will usually remain flat or be lifted over the back, and you won’t have to frighten many deer to see their nervous foot-stomping show. This stomping of the foot helps to notify other deer that there is a possible threat, and the stomping may be aimed at the prospective threat to get the predator to move. Furthermore, the interdigital gland on the deer’s foot emits an odor warning because of the foot-stomping activity. Deer frequently snort, emitting a harsh wheeze from the nostrils, which is frequently accompanied by other indications of panic, such as leaping and tail waving.

These symptoms don’t necessarily indicate that you’ve been caught by a deer. Deer wheezed and stomped for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they don’t know what they’re looking at and are attempting to acquire additional information while also alerting all other deer in the vicinity. It’s generally because they’ve seen something and can’t quite smell it, or because they’ve heard something and can’t quite smell it. Their sense of smell is one that they trust. They will frequently wait until their olfactory system confirms danger before they are completely alerted.

In these instances, the goal is to remain completely motionless. Trust your stand arrangement and camo, and hope the thermals don’t reveal your existence. If the deer don’t receive a clear burst of your stench and your frozen stature convinces them that their eyes are playing tricks on them, you might not be caught. In this circumstance, the worst thing you can do is try to make a fast shot. With a whitetail, you will always lose a “Mexican standoff.”

Other evident body language indicators might reveal a lot of information. A doe’s tail tilted to one side might indicate when she’s ready to breed, or the way an animal reacts after being shot can reveal where the deer was wounded.

A stressed doe would often hold her tail straight out and rigid, tilted to one side. Her willingness to breed is typically indicated by this position. She could also pirouette about anxiously, especially if there are bucks nearby.

You’ve undoubtedly also fired a shot and observed the so-called “mule-kick” or other action that indicates where the animal was struck. Unfortunately, some people have witnessed the frenzied tail twitch that indicates an animal has been hit in the stomach. This isn’t the same as the content tail swish stated previously; it’s more like a jerky “tail spasm.”

It’s an art to read whitetails’ body language. Only by studying and monitoring whitetail deer can it be learned. The more you observe, the more you’ll learn, and it’ll be simpler to predict a buck’s next action.

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