Signs that Deer Are On Your Property

Deer In Yard

Deer In Yard

Seeing a deer can be a lovely experience, though they can also be a serious nuisance in the yard. The problem is that you can have a persistent deer problem without ever actually seeing a deer. The trick is to learn the signs that deer have been on your property, even when you don’t see the animals themselves. There are a few main things to look for.



Deer Dropping or Scat

One of the easiest signs to interpret is deer droppings. Deer leave piles of large pellets, which are significantly different from dog, cat or other typical yard mammal droppings. They are slightly oblong in shape, ranging from half an inch to an inch in length. Usually found in clusters or piles, they can be scattered around if the deer was on the move when leaving them behind.



Deer Tracks

You’ll only get an opportunity to find tracks if the ground is soft enough to show them. That means soft dirt or mud, or in the winter snow. Summer grass won’t reveal too much. If the ground is cooperative, the tracks are very distinctive and easy to recognize. Each hoof leaves a split impression that looks a lot like two teardrops side-by-side. Almost like a heart with a gap down the middle.



Nibbling on the tops of your flowers or vegetables may not be deer. Rabbits tend to go after the same plants so you can’t base your decision just on a few damaged plants. Instead look for upper tree branches that have been broken or torn, bark chewed off higher than ground level or even damaged fences.


A scrape is made by a buck and is a less common sign of deer in your usual backyard scenario. During the rutting season, a male deer will paw at the ground to create a large bare patch, and they leave their urine and scent to attract females (and warn off other males).

Even if you never catch sight of an actual deer, these signs will let you know that one (or a group) has been through your yard. It is possible that they are just passing through and may not become an ongoing problem. On the other hand, if you are spotting these signs regularly, you may want to do something before serious problems arise.

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