What Does Deer Poop Look Like (Identifying Deer Droppings & Scat)


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Most hunters are well aware of the value associated with locating and identifying deer sign. Whether actively hunting or simply scouting, uncovering deer sign is a promising discovery.

Scrapes, rubs, and even fresh tracks all serve as valuable sign to any individual who is observant and meticulous in their overall mindset toward hunting. However, many hunters overlook the value of locating and identifying deer scat or droppings.

Deer droppings serve as an indisputable indicator that deer have recently been present in a given area.

Furthermore, when studied carefully, this type of sign can also clue a hunter into the diet of the deer in a particular area and even, in some instances, a deer’s direction of travel.

For this reason, sign of this type should never be easily dismissed.

A Deer’s Calling Card

Droppings can easily be considered one of the most important forms of sign left by wild deer.

While a deer might not leave tracks in dry soil, and scrapes/rubs tend to be seasonal in nature, all deer deposit droppings regularly.

Most of these droppings are easily distinguishable and can be dated according to freshness.

The concentration of droppings in a particular area is also highly indicative of the frequency with which deer regularly inhabit and use it.

This can be a great point to keep in mind when quickly scouting an area you are unfamiliar with, such as seldomly hunted public land or a farm that you have just recently gained permission to hunt.

deer scat on the ground in the woods

Buck Vs. Doe: Is There A Difference?

Many hunters have often been told by others that the size and shape of deer droppings often serve as a reliable indicator as to the sex of the deer that deposited them.

Wisdom of this type is often recited annually around campfires around the country by hunters, young and old alike.

However, this begs the question of whether or not there is any validity to such statements.

According to science, this specific notion is little more than widespread folklore.

In fact, the exact diet of the deer within a particular area actually has far more to do with the scat’s characteristics than the gender of the deer in question.

Generally speaking, firm pelletized droppings indicate a high concentration of acorns, leaves, and grain within a deer’s diet.

Meanwhile, larger droppings of a lumpy consistency suggest that deer have been feeding heavily upon natural browse and grasses.

A mixture of droppings within a specific area indicates a more rounded, inclusive diet.

The only discernible difference between buck and doe droppings tends to be in the number of feces left behind.

Bucks tend to deposit more pellets in a single instance than does, though this difference tends to be minimal at best.

While does often drop between 45-60 pellets, buck tend to drop closer to 80.

Frequency

Yet another reason that droppings serve as valuable deer sign is that they tend to be relatively plentiful.

This provides plenty of indication that deer are regularly frequenting an area, or traversing a specific trail.

Generally speaking, most adult deer defecate an average of 10-15 times a day during the colder months of the year. This number can be significantly higher during the spring and summer.

This also allows discerning hunters to quickly identify the presence of heavily used or frequented bedding areas.

Deer will often rise and travel several yards from their beds before defecating, only to return to their beds shortly after that. Therefore, matted foliage with numerous droppings nearby highly indicates a regularly utilized bed.

Aging Droppings

For the observant hunter, droppings can also provide clues as to how recently a deer used a particular area.

This stems from the fact that deer droppings tend to slightly change color and consistency over time.

Droppings that appear dark and somewhat moist are likely less than a day old, while those appearing lighter in color or dry tend to be significantly older.

This information can prove useful when attempting to determine the frequency with which deer use a certain area.

If only older droppings are present, one could surmise that deer are using an area intermittently, while a mixture of both old and fresh droppings indicates far more consistent use of an area.

Along the same lines, a hunter can determine how recently a deer has bedded in a certain area, by aging the droppings nearby.

An abundance of fresh droppings would suggest that the bed in question is fresh, and has been used in the last 24 hours, while the presence of aging and decaying droppings would indicate to the contrary.

Dr. Ken Nordberg on the Sign Method of Deer Hunting (Droppings)

Josh is an avid hunter of over twenty years and strategically manages several properties. Josh is also the Branch President for his local chapter of QDMA (Quality Deer Management Association).

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