Winter’s Impact On Deer

Grant Woods |

Ever wonder why deer in some areas paw through snow to find food and in other areas stay in winter deer yards? It has to do with the quality of food available and the amount of energy required getting the food.

By placing collars on deer that have a GPS unit, researchers have learned that deer commonly remain and feed in the same area until the snow gets about a foot or more deep. In areas where deep snows are common deer tend to migrate (yes, even some whitetails migrate) to areas where the snow is less than a foot deep or areas with readily available food.

In areas where the snow rarely exceeds one foot deep deer tend to simply limit their movement until the snow levels decline. There have been some unusually deep snows in states such as Kentucky this year. Folks in those areas may not see many deer or deer tracks for a few days until the snow depth decreases.

Although certainly stressful, deer in these areas tend to survive. There certainly may be a lag effect of reduced fawning rates or antler size the following year, depending on how long the deeper than normal snow cover lasts.

If deer lose a significant amount of weight, regaining their health will take precedent over producing antlers and fawns the following summer. Current winter conditions can have a big impact on herd health next spring


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About Grant Woods

grant woods

Dr. Grant Woods was raised and began his love of white-tailed deer as a bow hunter in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.