Deer are incredible, majestic creatures who show their instincts, thoughts, and behavioral patterns through an intricate body language system. If you have observed deer in the natural world (maybe you live in a forested area) or if you are a hunter, one of the coolest things that you may have seen a deer do is jump high into the air or clear a large area of thick brush to run away from a predator—hopefully not you!
If you live in an area highly populated with deer, you might also need to know how high deer can jump if you want to protect your garden or crops from these herbivorous animals with a deer fence. Deer are known to try many ways of getting into gardens, as their sense of hunger is a strong instinct that keeps them searching for nutritious, delicious plants.
If you live on a large acreage where deer roam freely and you want to keep them inside for hunting purposes, you might also want to build a deer fence to keep them in. The same information for keeping deer out will be valuable here. We’ll give you the lowdown on how high of a deer fence you need to build, too.
Average Jumping Height
When watching a deer jump, hopefully, it instills in you a sense of awe and wonder (although it might be frustrating to you as well, if you are trying to keep them in for hunting or out for crop preservation.) How and why do they do this, and how is it connected to other parts of deer action? Knowing the answer of how high as well as how they accomplish it can help you meet your goals, be it keeping deer in or out or simply deepening your knowledge of this species.
Most experts agree that white-tailed deer (the most common) can jump about eight feet into the air. They can also leap up to 30 feet in length if they have a running start! This can vary, however, based on the age of deer and species.
If you have a family or two of deer near your forest home, you’ve probably run the gamut trying to keep them from eating your strawberries, tomatoes, or herbs. However, deer become accustomed to “scare tactics” geared toward sight, sound, taste, and touch, which means the next step needs to be obstruction.
If you are trying to protect your greenery and precious plants from deer who want them for their own food, you’ll need a deer fence that raises about as high as the highest jumping ability for the species that is in your area.
Deer jump high but not high and far at the same time So, if for some reason you can’t (or don’t want to) put up an eight-foot-high fence, another option is to slant a shorter fence outward. A six-foot-high fence tilted at an angle might also keep out adept deer. Deer will usually try to walk under a fence and not be able to get in further.
Types of Deer and Average Jumping Heights/Lengths
Depending on the species, deer can jump with a range of heights and lengths.
Whitetail deer jump about six to eight feet high from a static stance; whitetail deer jump lengths of up to 12 feet when running.
Mule deer jump about three feet high from a static stance; Mule deer can achieve lengths of up to 15 feet distance when running.
Western roe deer jump about five feet high from a static stance; adult roe deer can achieve lengths of about 10-15 feet when running.
These deer can jump about five feet high from a static stance; when running, they can clear about 10-15 feet.
Fallow deer jump about six to eight feet high from a static stance; when running, they can leap lengths of about 12-15 feet.
Muntjac deer jump about five feet high from a static stance; they can reach lengths of about 10 feet when running.
Red deer jump about six feet from a static stance; they can leap over 10 feet when running.
Baby deer jump, too! Fawns tend to hop more than jump in their first two months of life; as they mature (but before they are fully grown), they can jump about four feet. Just because a deer is a baby, it can still leap over good-sized fences, so beware!
Why Do Deer Jump?
Most species, and especially whitetail deer, jump to get to food that smells attractive. You know this if you grow plants on your property and deer also share the habitat; it seems as if nothing you do keeps deer out of your plants.
Deer are persistent. They’ll try anything if they can smell something on the other side of the fence that they want to eat.
Remember that small holes, gaps in the planks, or spaces underneath the deer fence give deer an opportunity to get in through your fence as opposed to over it, and they’ll use that to their advantage.
A deer jumps to prevent being eaten. As preyed upon animals, their species have many instinctual survival abilities that prevent them from being taken over. When you see a deer jumping over large areas they are staying out of reach of humans and other predatory animals.
Even if they live on your land and they are comfortable, once they start to feel threatened, their instincts will kick in, often jumping, running, or leaping to escape over deer fences.
If you have an effective deer fence and then new predators enter the area, deer can jump your fence to avoid being attacked or eaten. So, a fence is a good preventative measure, but it’s not for certain.
Whitetail jump on or in front of cars, too. This happens for one of two reasons: they are frightened or they are in heat (rutting).
Deer that live in a highly-populated area become accustomed to the sounds and vibrations of cars. This might mean that they move across areas with plenty of cars without “looking both ways,” so to speak.
They could, alternatively, be frightened of vehicles with excessive noise and run away, but jump into the path of another moving car in their flight.
Rutting deer, or deer that are trying to mate, often only have their sights set on one thing: the right partner. This means that they will move around their habitat much more than normal, searching for a mate.
If there are plenty of cars driving back and forth over a busy road, a deer’s instinct will outweigh the fear of a car. This means that mating season—autumn—is the time of the year when the majority of vehicle-deer collisions happen.
Deer are intelligent creatures, but that doesn’t mean that accidents don’t happen. Take excessive caution when you are driving in an area that has “deer crossing” signs, especially if it is during the fall (mating season) or around June when does give birth, when you might see many deer family crossing your roads.
Many parts of a deer’s body determine why they can jump so high.
Deer have one eye on either side of their head, as do most prey animals, which means that they can see on both sides at once to better protect themselves from danger. This setup, however, means that a deer’s depth perception is not the best.
When a deer sees a fence, it most likely can’t accurately gauge how high that fence is. So even if it could jump over it, the deer might not try because it thinks it’s too high. Uncertainty could mean injury or death.
Deer won’t jump over something unless they know they can clear it unless they are under attack. Deer have a sense of self-preservation, after all!
Whitetail deer also are almost legally blind, with vision that is estimated to be about 20/200. They can see best only when light is low, which is why they are active during the hours just before and after dawn and twilight.
Whitetail deer don’t perceive color well (except for yellow and deep blue, who knew?), so they also have a hard time determining where the top of a fence is.
Deer are in the ungulate family, meaning that they have hooves. Their legs are built to allow for fast speeds and long or high jumping, which, when coupled with heightened sensory abilities, gives them an edge over predators.
Many whitetail deer live in habitats that have dense brush all along the ground, and this can be difficult to run through. When they can run across cleared paths and then jump over thick areas of vegetation, they can easily vacillate back and forth using their evasion skills.
A deer’s foot is made up of two toes and the hoof has three separate parts. The small size of these hooves means that there is less friction on the ground when they are running, and less friction allows for more movement and higher/faster jumping.
We’ve established what deer can accomplish, but why can deep jump so far and so high? Deers actually have no knees, believe it or not! Their lower legs (beneath the joint that people usually think are their knees) are actually their feet. So, where we think there is a knee, it’s an ankle!
Although very powerful, a whitetail deer’s legs are quite fragile. When turning quickly or landing in a way they didn’t plan, a leg can snap easily. When this happens, it is almost impossible for a deer to recover on its own.
Miraculously, however, many three-legged whitetail deer have been spotted in the wild, showing an incredible ability to adapt and overcome. Even with only three legs, some recovered deer can still jump up to four feet!
Typical whitetail deer jump for many reasons: to access food, stay away from predators, because they are spooked, or to find a mate. If you need to keep deer out of your area, you now know how high you need to build for an effective fence; if you are simply curious about these amazing animals and how they work, now you know more than you did before.