How Long Do Deer Live In The Wild?


How Long Do Deer Live In The Wild?

You could get a chance to see a deer before it runs away; they are friendly animals. Deer are notoriously elusive, making it challenging to determine their age. Therefore, you may be asking how long deer live.

A wild deer can live for three to twelve years on average. The average lifespan of white-tail deer is about two to three years old. The majority of wild deer die during their first year of existence. The species, health, predators, habitat, and human activities all have an impact on a deer’s longevity.

How long the deer in your area will live is something you might be interested in knowing. You will learn everything you need to know about the factors that affect a deer’s longevity from this tutorial. Additionally, you’ll find suggestions on how to coexist with deer and lessen your impact on them.

Let’s begin.

How long do Deer live in the wild?

Each subspecies will have a different natural life expectancy for deer. Although most deer won’t, some can survive up to 25 years in the wild.

Look at the average age of each type of wild deer.

species of deer Expected lifespan
Red-tailed buck 2-6 years
Deer, black-tailed 3-7 years
Masked deer 9-11 years
A Red Deer 10-12 years
Caribou 5-10 years
Moose 10-12 years
Brocket 7-12 years
Elk 8-12 years

You’ll observe that some species’ survival rates vary significantly depending on their age.

The circumstances in which the deer lives account for some deer living longer than others. Depending on the environment, certain deer can survive better than others. Other deer are more vulnerable in the wild due to lifestyle variables.

The majority of wild deer will, in fact, pass away during infancy. In fact, experts predict that between 30 and 60 percent of newborn deer won’t live past their first year. Young deer are significantly more susceptible to disease, predators, and famine than adults are, as is true for the majority of wild animals.

Deer that are larger than those that are smaller appear to live longer. However, larger males typically pass away 2 years earlier than females. Therefore, rather than simply being bigger, giant deer are more likely to live longer due to life variables.

Let’s examine the elements that have an impact on a deer’s lifespan.

1. Food Sources

One of the biggest hazards to a wild deer’s survival is the lack of food. Large mammals like deer require a consistent source of food to meet their daily energy needs. This will rise throughout particular seasons of the year, such as the breeding and mating season.

Plant vegetation makes up the majority of a deer’s diet. Depending on the species, deer will modify their diet to take advantage of what is in season. They can survive through all four seasons thanks to their ability to adapt to various types of plants.

Winter is the key season to be concerned about because there is a shortage of new plants. Some deer species will try to eat more during the warmer months to combat this. As a result, they produce emergency fat resources that will enable them to live days without food.

Most species, like moose, prefer frigid environments with little fresh flora. They have adjusted to this by consuming primarily twigs and aquatic plants in their diet.

Thick snowfall brought on by harsh winter weather might make it difficult for deer to find food. They frequently squander energy by wandering through snow or when it is too cold to browse.

During the winter, deer frequently starve to death due to a lack of food. Each year, 10% of deer deaths are caused by starvation. Winter hunger typically strikes young deer experiencing their first winter first.

Some deer species have evolved by relying on accessible food supplies provided by people. This includes bird food in bird feeders and agricultural products. Unfortunately, relying too heavily on these foods can lead to nutritional deficits and poor health. The deer may become more vulnerable as a result in the wild.

2. Predators

A few larger animal predators that hunt deer may kill them to consume.

Common predators of deer include:

  • Wolves
  • Coyotes
  • Bears
  • Bobcats
  • Wolverines
  • Jaguars
  • Grizzly bears

Each year, 12% of deer deaths are caused by predators. All deer species are primarily preyed upon by wolves and coyotes.

Young, aged, injured, and diseased deer will account for the majority of these fatalities. These characteristics make them more prone to danger, sluggish, and easily confused. In an effort to prevent attracting predators, mother deer may make an effort to avoid being near their fawns.

Although deer are killed by natural predators frequently each year, this number is small in compared to the number of deer killed by human hunters. In reality, hunters in the USA kill close to 6 million deer annually. Deer are exterminated for sport, food, fur, and to control pests.

3. Disease

How long a deer can survive will be greatly influenced by its health. Among the leading causes of death for wild deer are illness and parasites.

The following ailments frequently afflict wild deer:

  • Chronic wastage illness (CWD)
  • bleeding disorder (HD)
  • Tuberculosis in cattle
  • Screwworm

These are only a handful of the ailments that affect the majority of deer species on a regular basis. Disease outbreaks like CWD are very contagious and can cause a substantial number of deer deaths.

One deer can die from these illnesses. However, they may also confuse the deer, leaving them more open to attack by a predator. Deer that are infected may also become too weak or confused to locate sources of food and water. They may eventually perish as a result of malnutrition and dehydration. Deer in the wild lack access to medical care that would help them survive.

4. Injury

Deer may be far more susceptible to harm due to their habitat. A severe injury puts the deer’s life in danger since it may prevent them from finding food, escaping predators, or protecting them from infection.

The risk of injury is greater for deer that reside close to cities. The most frequent cause of deer injuries is car accidents. In the USA, there are thought to be 1 million deer collisions annually. The deer will probably suffer serious injuries from internal trauma, shattered bones, or wide open wounds if they are not killed.

Other human-related harm to deer is frequently brought on by hunting or people attempting to keep deer off their property. This frequently leads to wounds from gunshots, dog bites, poisons, or traps.

Deer can get hurt while attempting to flee from predators with savage teeth and claws. Fighting actions of rutting bucks are another frequent reason for deer injuries. Deer frequently lose their eyes or suffer severe, infected wounds as a result of their sharp horns.

5. Climate

There are many different climates where deer species can be found. Some species are more suited to cold climates than others, and vice versa. However, the majority of deer species inhabit temperate regions. Since deer cannot hibernate in the winter, they frequently need to adjust to survive the transition from summer to winter.

Deer have it particularly difficult during the cold winter months. If they cannot locate suitable refuge or fall into frigid waters in the cold, they may experience hypothermia. The majority of deer species undergo specific adaptations by developing a winter coat and gathering in herds to conserve body heat.

Deer may become hungry and susceptible throughout the winter if they haven’t stored enough fat during the warm seasons.

Certain species, like the moose, are better suited to survive in frigid climates. Warmer temperatures make it difficult for moose to survive. If they can’t cool off rapidly in hot weather, they can easily pass away from heat stress.

How to help Deer live longer in the wild

Deer live in the wild for a relatively brief time given their size. While their environment plays a role in this, human factors are largely to blame. There are a few methods you can do to lessen your negative impact on the nearby deer.

Here are five ways you may promote the longevity of wild deer.

1. Prevent Injury

1. Prevent Injury

The most important thing to remember is to be cautious, especially by the roadside in places with poor visibility. In the fall and spring, deer are frequently on the move in herds, typically at dawn and twilight, so be especially cautious at these times.

A deer in the center of the road may generally be scared away using your horn and high beams. Finally, try to drive no faster than the posted speed limit to make yourself as safe as possible, especially if there are deer warning signs along the side of the road.

2. Don’t Feed them

This might seem like an odd strategy for ensuring deer survival. Surely giving them food would prevent them from going hungry? However, you shouldn’t intentionally leave food out in your yard for deer to eat. Not only may feeding deer hurt the animals, but it’s probably better to point out that it’s also against the law in several places.

The issue is that once the deer learn that you have an easy source of food, they’ll keep returning. Nutritional deficits can develop from eating too much food that is not naturally occuring.

Deer are also put in danger when they are drawn to urban areas. This might result from car accidents, dog bites, or individuals utilizing risky techniques to keep them away from their yards.

3. Deter Humanely

If you enjoy observing the animals in your yard, seeing a deer might be a pleasant surprise. However, they can be very damaging and ruin a lot of your landscaping. When they’re through, they’ll head over to your neighbor’s yard, which won’t go over so well.

You may keep deer out of your yard in a few different ways without killing them. See my list of 14 simple methods to keep deer out of your yard.

In this case, killing or trapping deer is not the solution. Even after you dealt with one deer, they continue to be drawn to your yard. If you don’t resolve that, other problems will arise. The greatest solution for this problem is to make your yard less inviting to deer.

4. Don’t relocate

Deer relocation and trapping are inhumane practices that almost always end in the animals’ deaths. That’s because the strange environment they are thrown into will stress and confuse the deer. It will be challenging for them to locate food and water. Additionally, in the new environment, they are more exposed to novel predators.

Deer who have just been relocated could go into an area where a more aggressive deer lives and try to attack them. A female deer may also be moved away from a fawn, who, without its mother nearby, will starve or perish from predators.

5. Find a rehabber

You should consult a wildlife rehabber for advice if you encounter a sick, injured, or perhaps orphaned deer.

These companies are experts at handling wildlife. Telling them where the animal is is the best course of action. Avoid attempting to catch or approach the animal because doing so puts both you and the deer at danger of harm or stress.

Check out this resource from the humane society to find a wildlife rehabilitator nearby.

Related Questions

How long do deer live in captivity?

Deer can survive for 15 to 20 years in captivity. Since they don’t have to cope with many of the same problems that wild deer have, this takes a lot longer than deer in the wild. Additionally, captive deer have access to medical attention when they become ill, increasing their chances of survival.

Deer kept in captivity are safe from predators, suffer fewer wounds, and have a consistent source of wholesome food. Due to these conditions, caged deer are more likely to pass away from old age than from illness or being victim to other wild animals.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Once the deer reach adulthood, a number of variables, including food sources, predators, habitat, and health, will affect how long they live.

The main threat to deer survival comes from humans, as 7 million of them are killed annually through shooting and traffic accidents. Ask yourself what you can do to lessen your impact on the local deer herd.


What is the max age of a deer?

White-tailed deer typically live 2 to 3 years. Few animals live past the age of 10 in the wild, where the maximum lifespan is 20 years.

How old is a full grown deer?

A deer buck is physically mature at 4 1/2 years old in a properly maintained herd, according to Dr. Kroll, who made this claim forcefully. Although there are always exceptions to the rule, on average, a buck will have 90% of his lifetime antler growth at age 4 and a half.

How old is the oldest deer?

Some deer specimens in zoos have lived much past the age of 20. One red deer in the Milwaukee Zoo in Wisconsin, USA, lived for 26 years and 8 months until passing away in 1954. Another red deer, this one housed in Washington, DC, reached the age of 26 years, 2 months, and 2 days.

What is the natural lifespan of a whitetail deer?

The average lifespan of a male white-tailed deer is 6 years. Some people live longer than others. Males typically live two years less than females do. A doe in Georgia has the longest lifespan of any white-tailed deer, at 22 years.


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Sarah Green

Wildlife and Nature Fan & Author