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Old 10-04-2009, 12:07 PM
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Default how smart are deer?

based on a discussion in another thread most bucks that are shot are 1.5 years old, not exactly the sharpest age group in the herd. allot of them are shot because curiosity got the better of them. older deer have learned that being curious about something is itself a warning sign. I don't believe deer wander aimlessly. I think they know where they are going at all times any time of the year and have a reason for being/going there. with one exception and thats when mom boots her young son out of the territory. its up to us as hunters to figure out the why, where, how, and for how long. but hey maybe I'm giving them to much credit. I got no problem shooting the dumb ones.lol

we know what joel thinks and we know what i think, what do you other guys think? I'm not looking to be proven right or wrong. just think its a great topic.I figured we'd open this idea up to further discussion to others who may have missed it.What do you think,how smart are deer?do they know eery apple tree in the woods?
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Old 10-04-2009, 12:28 PM
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My opinion: Deer are not smart in an absolute way. They DO have phenomenal senses - hearing, smell, sight (for movement), and they can learn things and do remember experiences, which means they will avoid things that have had negative results in the past and seek out those things which have had "positive" results. They are extremely wary and nervous, and they know their environment intimately, which means they will recognize anything that is out of the ordinary. My guess is the biggest bucks are those who are the most nervous of all. All these things make them very hard to hunt, but they don't make deer smart. With all they do have going for them already, if the WERE smart as well, they would be impossible to hunt, period!
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Old 10-04-2009, 03:46 PM
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i agree great senses but i don't know that i would ever say deer are smart. they get hit by cars everyday that's the first sign to me they aren't to bright
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Old 10-04-2009, 04:31 PM
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Deer don't have an intelligence like a humans, we can determine right from wrong and evaluate the difference.
Example, If you walk towards an open bon fire at some point your intelligence tells you not to go further or you will get burned.
A deer on the other hand can only rely on it's senses, it's senses say don't go into the fire but doesn't have a clue what the fire is or why he can't go further into it.
are Deer smart? No, absolutely not. Deer have keen senses and are designed to blend in well with their surroundings, If they were smart they'd just go onto all the Posted properties and avoid being shot at altogether.

I totally Agree with Joel that deer do not wander aimlessly, I think Deer all travel with a purpose which is led by food, water, bedding and breeding I also believe a deer is extremely keen to their home ranges and a Doe lives within a certain range not ever traveling outside of her range but a Buck can easily be drawn miles away from it's home range by a Doe in heat... but even if a Buck is drawn miles away they can and will find their way back to their home range.


Brian88, Yes deer are getting hit by cars everyday but isn't the Driver the only one that has the option to hit the brakes?
In your example, I think the drivers of them cars are the ones who may not be the brightest...

That's how I believe it to be...
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:11 PM
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I think they are smart in regards to the woods etc. because they live there 24/7 and know the area in great detail. Kind of like we know how to get to the store, school, bank, and all the shortcuts and easiest ways to get to these places.....In terms of being hit by cars.......well a deer should SMELL the car coming and run away but sometimes running away turns to running straight into.
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Old 10-05-2009, 07:50 AM
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After reading the other thread and now this one I got to throw my 2 cents in as well.

I like how onehorse said it.

"they know their environment intimately, which means they will recognize anything that is out of the ordinary"

Would you use a pine cover scent in an area that had no pines? I wouldn't. Who knows it may work but I would think that would be a smell that would be catagorized as out of the ordinary.

Now compare that to the apples debate. I think that if it is the deer's home range a new smell of apples would make the deer curious but also give him an increased sense of awareness of "somethings different here", and being the wary creatures that they are anyway I think it would increase your chances as a hunter to getting busted.

Granted that thought only applies to a deer's home range. Like joel said earlier. If its a buck from 3 miles away it will have no clue where every apple tree is., but if I am trying to attract a deer that is out of his home range would I use a food scent over the 1 scent that he is really looking for? I would have to go with a doe in heat scent over the apples.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:46 PM
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I have to say that I think deer are pretty smart...however, you have to find intelligence...they may not be able to do math or have a moral right and wrong sense, but you have to look at it as a whole

1. They have a communication system
2. They warn other deer of things (snorts, tails flaring, etc)
3. They react to hunting pressure

You can clearly see how deer are effected by hunters and hunting pressure. They do have an intimate knowledge of their surroundings and can tell when something in the system is out of place, but I think you can tell the intelligence in them because they REACT to what they notice. Late in the season you notice deer coming out closer and closer to dark.

The property I hunt is across the TN river from a TN Wildlife Refuge and during/after the the quota hunts happen in the area, you can see the deer swimming the river. Often they end up staying on the islands in the middle of the river during the day because they realize there is no hunting pressure. They often come off the islands to feed when browse on the island is limited, but they return to the island before the next day comes.

Also, if you start hunting deer on the ridgetops, they start walking around the sides of the ridges to stay out of sight.

just my $.02
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:24 PM
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Default smart deer

When i think of whether or not a deer is smart, I personally am comparing them to other wildlife animals... there isnt to many other animals that are wiser than deer... In N.C. where I live and hunt we arent allowed to hunt on sundays and in the middle of the season once the deer have gone almost completely nocturnal you will see them occasionally in daylight, but only on sundays... it is probably a coniencidence but its like the deer know the pattern of days, you all can think what you want but its true I promise, I like to think its god's sense of humor ! lol

As far as how they use their senses i think its pretty amazing, they litteraly see scent in a sense, they're paths arent as much visual paths to them as we see them, but more of a higway of scent... we keep refering to deer as wary and nervous animals but arent they smart animals to be wary and nervous ???
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:19 PM
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All of us need to read this months Deer And Deer Hunting Magazine. When you do you will see why I have to say from my experiences that I agree with Charlie 100%. Really good issue this month. As Charlie states mature deer are not smart-----THEY ARE BRILLIANT! Made a horses butt out of me more than I can count or admit too.

Last edited by wmi; 10-12-2009 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:36 PM
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the Older=Smarter! article on page 16. It's a fairly good article to read.
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