You find yourself deep in a luscious and dense forestry, you have nothing but the clothes on your back and one simple challenge; determine if there are any deer around.
How would you go about it? Let’s say you go for a quick wander, but not wanting to get lost, you don’t stray far from a trail.
You see no evidence of life, at least you don’t see any animals. You hear surprisingly little too.
Perhaps the rustle of a few leaves, the songs of a few birds, the sound of your own breath. But nothing more.
There’s a water source nearby though, so you know that animals must come and go. What’s your next plan of action?
Simply put, you need to look for poop. Yep, you heard me right, we’re on a poop hunt.
One of the best ways to determine if animals are nearby, or at least once were nearby, is to find the excrement of said animal. That piece of the trail that they can’t hide.
Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. Especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. And let’s face it, it’s not as if we’re all deer-poop-connoisseurs.
Although it’s pretty cool, and not to mention unusual, if you are. But believe it or not, deer poop does have its distinguishing features, and it can give you some information about the deer that dropped it.
So, in this article, you might want to pop on your gloves, get out your hand sanitizer, and stick a plug on your nose, because we’re delving deep into all things deer-poop-related.
Introduction To Deer Poop
Considering they’re massively large stature, you may be expecting their excrement to be fairly hearty looking too.
But surprisingly, deer don’t poop like say you and I do, or even cats or dogs. Their poop is actually more commonly referred to as droppings because it comes out as these teeny tiny pellets – though they do pass quite a lot of them.
In fact, deer poop actually more closely resembles that of rabbits, for example. Each deposit tends to be just the size of a raisin.
They do tend to be a little more oval in shape though and tend to be more greeny-brown in color. You may even notice some of their plant-based diet visible too.
Regardless of whether you’re tracking for hunting, or are just a wildlife enthusiast, being able to easily identify deer poop can be a skill that comes in handy.
So, now that you’ve got the general gist and overview, we’ll take a closer look at exactly what you are looking for.
Identifying Deer Poop Features
It’s important to note that while deer poop will somewhat follow a rhyme and reason, it can vary from deer to deer based on their shape and size.
As I mentioned before, when it comes to deer, you won’t have a large pile of poop on the ground. Instead, you’ll find a very large number of minuscule droppings.
It is to be expected that they’ll be around a half-inch in diameter, however, sometimes they can be a little bit bigger or longer.
Bigger droppings don’t necessarily mean that a very large deer is close by though.
The size of their faeces is often a much bigger indicator of their diet than it is their size. If you see larger deer droppings, it’s likely that they’ve been munching on a fair amount of fruit which clumps more easily.
Whereas if they’re smaller, then they’ve probably been snacking on a few nuts or berries.
Shape, I believe, comes part and parcel with size. So it makes sense to discuss them one after another.
And the shape of deer droppings will depend on their size. Smaller deer droppings tend to be very circular and round while larger droppings are often shaped more like a cone.
And like with size, the shape of the droppings won’t really be an indicator of the deer that dropped it. Just their diet.
Their droppings will tend to be more rounded during the winter when they can’t get their hands (or should I say mouths) on much substantial food and so stick to grass, bark, acorns, etc.
During the summer, when there is a little more on offer, you’ll notice more cone-like droppings.
Related: Do Deer Like Apples?
Pretty much always, deer poop will be either green or brown. Though sometimes it can be black too, but this is less common.
And you guessed it, just like the two categories above, this tends to tell you more about what this deer has been eating throughout the day.
As you might imagine, if the deer has been munching on a lot of plant matter, grass, or leaves throughout the day, they’ll have a greener-colored poop.
If they’ve been more partial to a few nuts or fruits, then they’ll likely have a darker and browner-colored poop.
With that being said though, the color of the droppings can also be used to determine how fresh the faeces is, too.
If you come across a darker dropping, there’s more of a chance that it’s fairly fresh.
When the droppings have been left alone for a while, they’ll start to go much lighter in color as it’s dried.
If this is the case, the deer you’re searching for is most likely long gone by this point.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to where you find the droppings, as this tells its own story.
In its simplest form, it at least tells you that a deer was in that very location you’re standing in…doing its business.
However, the story doesn’t end there. Think about it, when do you most often get that feeling of needing to go?
I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s usually right after I’ve scoffed down a big, filling, and delicious dinner.
And it’s pretty much the exact same case for our food-legged deer friends. Deer will often excuse themselves to the toilet, if doing so were such a thing, around the same time that they stop to eat.
So, if you notice relatively fresh droppings in an area, the deer that dropped them probably isn’t all that far away.
The other place or time that you’re likely to go to the toilet is just before bed, right? Again, animals really aren’t all that different from us.
If you are in a more hidden and enclosed area, then there’s a good chance that the fresh faeces you’ve spotted are in the deer’s bedding area.
Number Of Droppings
Now, the main distinguishing feature to tell you just how big of a boy you’re dealing with when you find deer droppings, is the number of pellets.
And it’s pretty much as you’d expect. If there are a lot of pellets, then it’ll be a big deer. If there are only a few, it’s probably a smaller or baby deer.
The bigger the deer, the more they can eat, and so the more they’ll poop.
At least, that is the general rule. Of course, this won’t always be 100% true.
There may have been a day when a huge buck just didn’t have a big appetite, or a smaller buck was feeling absolutely ravenous.
And this could influence the number of pellets that are dropped.
For this reason, it’s worth trying to identify patterns of poop rather than just one stand-alone faeces finding.
By this I mean, that if you’re finding several larger droppings, then there probably is a large buck close by.
Keep an eye out for just how many droppings you find in an area too. Fun fact of the day; deer poop on average around 13 times per day.
From this, you may be able to determine whether there is a large herd around this neck of the woods, or if it seems as if there is just one or two scattered around.
Anyone who’s picked up after their dog will tell you that fresh poops come out warm. And that’s the same for all animals, us included.
So, simply, and maybe slightly grossly put, the steamier, and warm the dropping are, the fresher they are. The fresher they are, the closer around that deer is.
Now, by no means am I advising that you get your fingers deep into any droppings that you find.
Other than that being particularly stomach-churning, it’s also not very sanitary or safe.
Droppings can carry all hosts of bacteria and diseases that you don’t want lurking on your hands.
Instead, you can hover your hand just above it to see if you can feel any heat.
You could also look for any visible signs of steam, though this is much easier to do during the winter months.
Another great diet indicator of the deer is the consistency of their poop.
A firm and dense dropping will be an indicator that the deer in question has been eating much denser food such as twigs, leaves, oats, or corn.
If the droppings are a little softer and mushier, then it is likely that they have been munching on food such as fruit.
The consistency of their droppings can also tell you how long it has been since they were in the area doing their business.
Drier droppings indicate that it’s been a little while since they were…dropped.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t still close by but they are probably not in the immediate vicinity like they would be if the droppings were wetter with that sheen of moisture over them that glistens.
Related:: Is It Normal for a Deer Be Alone?
And there you have it – we have delved deep into all things deer-poop related. You should now be a deer droppings pro.
If I were to take you back to the beginning of this article, where you were abandoned in a forest searching for deer, you’d fare a lot better now, right?
You would know exactly what to do! Go on a scavenger hunt for deer droppings.
Not only would you know that deer were around, but you’d know if they were close by and what kind of foods they’d been snacking on throughout the day!