Like other kinds of animals, deer have their own methods of non-verbal communication. The way that deer move, stand, and behave is their way of communicating to others of their species, other animals around them, and even people. Foot stomping is one of the most famous deer non-verbal communication gestures, but what does it mean? Why do deer stomp their feet?
Deer stomp their feet when they want to show that they’re alert and aware of potential danger. If a deer stomps its feet while looking at you, this probably means that they’ll bolt away if they perceive you as a threat.
When Do You See a Deer Stomping Its Feet?
If the deer has detected you, it’s probably stomping its feet to communicate this. It wants you to know that if you seem to be a threat, it will flee immediately.
Deer in areas with high hunting pressure (where there are many active hunters) tend to be on high alert. As a result, they’re more likely to stomp their feet when they perceive something out of the ordinary or unexpected.
Why Deer Stomp Their Feet
As we’ve already touched on, deer foot-stomping communicates alertness and willingness to flee if they suspect danger.
Another circumstance where deer stomp their feet is if they suspect there is danger nearby and want to encourage any predator nearby to come into view.
Deer also stomp their feet to alert other deer in their herd that there is danger nearby.
Why Do Female Deer Stomp Their Feet?
Female deer stomp their feet for the same reasons as male deer. Of course, female deer (otherwise known as does) with fawns (baby deer) must think about their offspring’s safety as well as their own.
This means that they may be on higher alert in certain circumstances.
Female deer may be more likely to use foot-stomping for laying down scent. Deer have scent on their feet, called interdigital scent.
Why Do Male Deer Stomp Their Feet?
While it may seem alarming to see a male deer stomp its feet in your vicinity, it probably just means it knows you’re there and will run away if you present yourself.
If a buck behaves this way, you probably don’t have to worry about aggression from the animal. However, if a deer stomps at an animal smaller than itself (for example, a dog), it could be a sign of aggression.
What Does it Mean When a Deer Stomps at You?
A deer stomping its feet at you probably means it has detected your presence and is looking for you. If you make a noise or prove their suspicion is right, the deer will immediately run away.
When a deer stomps, it wants you to leave the area but it doesn’t indicate aggression.
The stomping deer is hoping to get some kind of response from you, so it can get a sense of the danger you present. If you do respond, the deer will typically run away.
Will a Deer Come Back After Stomping?
If you’re a hunter and a deer stomps at you, you should stay calm and completely still. You don’t want to risk doing anything else that could make the deer more suspicious, or it will certainly run off at top speed.
If you stay still and don’t make any noise, it is possible that the deer will stay.
If the deer runs away after stomping, however, it probably won’t come back to where you were when this happened.
Why Do Deer Snort?
Sometimes deer snort when they stomp their feet. Like stomping, snorting is an indication that the deer is alarmed.
The snorting noise is created when air is strongly pushed through the animal’s nose (nasal passages).
The snort sounds a bit like a “whoosh” noise, as the nostrils are still closed and the air flutters them.
When deer snort, they are alerting other deer to potential danger in the area. As well as stomping, body language elements that often accompany snorting include a tail flare and flick.
The snort, stomping, and tail flare and flick are related to the deer’s fight or flight response.
The fight or flight response is triggered when a deer senses possible danger nearby, such as a predator or hunter. Fear causes a hormone called adrenaline to be released into the animal’s bloodstream.
This gives the deer the energy and motivation it needs to escape from danger.
While the snort most often means that the deer is alarmed, there are circumstances in which there are other reasons for this noise. Sometimes, feeling annoyed or frustrated can lead to snorting.
Other Kinds of Deer Non-Verbal Communication
Stomping and snorting are just two of several different kinds of deer communication. Let’s take a look at a few more of them below.
Body Hair Standing Up
If two male deer are feeling aggressive toward one another during the breeding period (rut), their body hair may stiffen and rise up on the back of the neck.
This may also be seen on the top area of the back of the body. When bucks display stiff body hair in this way, it is a sign of anger and aggression.
Similar to most other animals, deer use smell as a method of communication. Deer have a much stronger sense of smell than human beings have.
Final Thoughts: Why Do Deer Stomp Their Feet?
As we’ve seen here, deer stomp their feet when they’re alarmed. It typically means that the deer will run away if it decides that there is danger nearby.
That said, if you’re in the woods during the annual rut, use caution as male deer can behave more aggressively at this time of year.
If you’re a deer hunter and a deer stomps their feet in your direction, they’ve detected that you’re near them. If you provide any other hints of your presence, the animal will run away and won’t come back.
Deer sometimes also use foot-stomping to warn other deer in the area of potential danger.