Why Are Deer So Dumb? SPOILER: They’re Not!

It’s very easy to understand why people think that deer are dumb creatures.

When people think of deer intelligence, they most commonly recall the fact that they randomly jump in front of cars.

If deer had an ounce of wisdom, they wouldn’t be so unbelievably reckless with their own lives, right?

So what gives? Why are deer so dumb?

The fact of the matter is deer aren’t dumb at all! We can’t judge their intellect based on our limited observations and anecdotal evidence. Deer are very smart animals that have evolved to survive with their herd mentality, sharp senses, and ability to learn. They are extremely well-suited for their environment and shouldn’t be compared to other animals with different circumstances.

Social Animals

As we’ve discussed on this site many times before, deer are herd animals that normally travel and live together.

While we may not associate this sociological behavior with intelligence per say, it is a very smart survival mechanism.

Ever hear the term, “strength in numbers?” Well this is a perfect example of that.

Deer have adapted to rely heavily on their peers to know when there are potential predators.

This form of social networking can easily be characterized as a form of intelligence as it allows the herd to collectively increase their chances of survival.

Sharp Senses

It’s very important to note that deer have amazingly accurate senses of smell, hearing, and sight (with the exception of cars of course).

This enables them to find food, protect their young, and evade predators.

Again, while we consider senses to just be a part of our genetic fabric, it is a way for deer to showcase their form of intelligence.

Wouldn’t it be fair to say that any animal that has evolved to use their senses for survival must be smart in one way or another? We think so!

For a more comprehensive look at deer senses, we encourage you to visit this page!

Ability to Learn

Just like humans, deer are constantly evolving to learn new things.

Once they find a reliable food source, they will remember and constantly frequent that area.

Don’t believe me? Just have a look at these deer that constantly visit the oak trees in our back yard for their acorns:

Do you think it’s a coincidence they just happen to come at the same time every year?

Deer are smart. They learn where the food is and they continue to come back.

Likewise, they also learn where dangerous areas may be such as those with coyote populations.

They will shy away from such areas and stick to the ones that have been proven to be safe over time.

Age Plays A Part

Just like humans, deer get wiser with age.

That is why hunters will tell you that it’s generally harder to hunt an older deer than its younger counterpart.

Over time these animals become much better suited for their environment.

They learn the behaviors that have worked well for survival such as finding food and evading predators (including hunters).

This plays into our previous point that they have a strong ability to learn.

Check out these tips specifically catered to hunting older, smarter bucks:

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to think of deer as dumb when compared to other highly intelligent creatures in the animal kingdom.

However, different animals display their intelligence in different ways.

For deer this is primarily displayed through their herd mentality, sharp senses, and learning abilities.

While deer definitely don’t qualify as the smartest animal next to humans, they are far from dumb which is evidenced through their uncanny ability to survive.

We hope you enjoyed today’s post and encourage you to share your thoughts below!

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