What Is a Male Deer Called

Male deer have several names, depending on the exact species of deer and several other factors. Over 60 species of deer and other mammals belong to the deer family, and most people assume that all males are called bucks.

However, there are four different names that are used to describe male deer. These names are buck, hart, stag, and bull. Sometimes male deer can be called fawns, but this is reserved for young deer, regardless of sex. 

After the first year, a deer is no longer referred to as a fawn and will adopt the appropriate name for adult deer, depending on the specific sex of the animal.

Different Male Deer Names

Male deer names are based on species, body structure, and body features. The following section will discuss the most common names used for male deer.

Male Deer Called Stags

Besides buck, a stag is one of the most commonly recognized names for male deer. Many people assume that buck is the most original and common name for male deer. However, this assumption is false.

The stag was the original name used to describe male deer. Because of the age of this term, a stag is commonly used to describe the oldest known groups of deer species.

Male Deer Called Bucks

The term buck is used to describe certain male deer and is generally thought of as a label that only applies to these animals. However, male animals of other types of species share this term as a description.

Male rabbits, rats, kangaroos, and ferrets are also referred to as bucks. When this label is used as a description for male deer, a couple of characteristics must be present to justify this name.

The term buck is synonymous with certain species of deer. Additionally, male deer must be fully matured regardless of the species before they are given this label.

Male Deer Called Harts

Most people probably aren’t aware of the term hart when it comes to describing male deer. This is the least commonly used description out of all four terms.

There is only one specific instance when hart is used to describe male deer. Males of the red deer species are the only mammals that are given this label.


The term bull is not reserved for male deer specifically but for animals that belong to the deer family. Bull is also a term given to males of the bovine species.

Normally, the term bull is only used for describing larger species of animals in the deer family. This includes moose, elk, and antelope.

Differences Between Stags and Bucks

Buck and stag are the two most common terms used to describe male deer. There is one main difference between the types of deer that fall under each category, respectively.


The term stag is reserved exclusively for deer and isn’t used to describe any other types of animals. Additionally, the terms stag and buck can be used to describe the same animal. A mature buck will normally be referred to as a stag, but this is not the only rule for using this label.

There are certain occasions when the term stag is used as a standalone description. However, this is only reserved for particularly old deer species.


Presently, the majority of male deer are referred to as bucks. This label was adopted for use to describe adult male deer much later than the term stag.

Normally, the term buck is used to describe fully mature male deer. However, when the names buck and stag overlap in the same species, a buck is used to describe adult male deer that aren’t fully mature yet.

The most common characteristic that dictates the specific name for a male deer is the species of deer family they come from. 

The following section will outline some of the more popular deer families and what pattern they use to label their males, females, and babies.

Specific Labels for Families

This section will outline the pattern of labels used based on specific deer families.  

Cervidae Families of Deer

There are over 60 specific species of deer, with different species falling under categories known as families. Deer are very adaptive, and different families and species exist in different climates and conditions.

43 species fall under the family of deer known as Cervidae, which is divided into two more groups. These two groups are known as Cervinae and Capreolinae.

Almost every species that fall under these two categories have antlers that grow and shed each year. The only exception to this rule is the Chinese water deer.

Most species that fall under either category of Capreolinae deer have males known as bucks or bulls. Whitetail deer are the most common in this category. The biggest difference between the specific categories of Cervinae and Capreolinae is how their ankles are formed.

Cervidae deer species have a mix of bucks and stags. This category is also known as Old World Deer because many of the species are primitive and have been in existence for centuries. Some of the specific species that fall under this category include:

·         Fallow deer

·         Tufted deer

·         Muntjacs deer

·         Chital

·         Red deer

·         Sika deer

·         Sambar

·         Hog deer

·         Barasingha

·         White-lipped deer

Red Deer Species

Male red deer that are over five years old in the red deer species are known as harts. Buck is also used for male red deer, but this is when they are under five years of age or baby deer.

Male Sika Deer

Sika deer typically live in geographic locations that have marshland. Male deer that belong to this species are known as stags. Female deer are still known as does. 


When male barasingha deer are young, they are known as bucks. Once they reach the age of maturity, they are referred to as stags. This species is most commonly native to China. Female deer are known as does in this species. 

Capriolinae Deer Family

There are multiple species that fall under the family of Capreolinae. These species include:

·         Moose

·         Roe deer

·         Water deer

·         Brocket deer

·         Huemul

·         Reindeer

·         Pudu

·         Pampas deer

Most of the time, the males of this species are known as bucks, but in some cases, like the moose, they are referred to as bulls. Their bone structure is slightly different from that of the Cervinae family of deer.

Roe Deer

Males of the roe deer species are known as roebucks. These deer are much smaller in size and tend to thrive in colder weather.

Brocket Deer

This species of deer have males that have incredibly sharp antlers. The males that fall under this category of deer are known as bucks.


One of the unique facts about reindeer is that males and females both have antlers. Male reindeer are referred to as bucks and stags interchangeably. Female reindeer are still known as does. 

Understanding the specific names of male deer can be quite confusing. However, confusing any of these names isn’t the end of the world.

Truthfully, most people use the word buck most often to refer to a male of adult age. After a deer reaches very old age, most people will use the word bull or stag to refer to them, regardless of the species.

Don’t get discouraged or frustrated if you can’t remember the specific names right away. Spend some time studying and practicing these labels, and after a while, it should start to stick!

What Is a Male Deer Called FAQs

Does the term “buck” always refer to an adult male deer?

The term buck always refers to a male deer. However, it doesn’t always mean the deer in question is an adult. In some cases, adult male deer are referred to as stag or bull.

In some of these instances, a young male deer may be referred to as a buck. When the label of stag or bull is used, and the particular species lacks the use of the word fawn, the term buck will be used for a young deer instead.

Are moose, elk, and other animals called bucks?

Normally the answer is no. Technically, these animals aren’t deer, but they belong to the deer family. While they share many of the same characteristics, being called a buck isn’t one of them.

Larger species of animals in the deer family, such as moose and elk, typically use the word bull to describe males. The buck is normally the word of choice whenever the species in question is significantly larger than the average deer.

Is buck only used to describe deer?

Many people believe that the term buck is reserved exclusively for deer. However, this assumption is false.

Several other animal species share the label of buck when referring to males. These species include rats, rabbits, and ferrets.

Were male deer originally referred to as bucks?

This may come as a surprise, but the term buck wasn’t the label that was used initially to describe adult male deer. Originally, the term stag was used to describe these animals. Although not used as widely as it was in the past, certain species of adult male deer are still identified using the term stag. There are actually rare cases when the terms buck and stag overlap, with the former being used to describe young male deer.

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