Deer Hunting Glossary Of Terms

| Last Updated September 29, 2020

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Definitions of commonly used deer hunting terms:

Abomasum - the fourth, or digesting, chamber of the stomach of a cud-chewing animal, like the whitetail deer

Albino Deer - A deer that is lacking in color or has a white coat.

Antler - the branched, annually shed, bony growth on the head of any animal of the deer family. This bony growth is what causes hunters to get up before dawn and sit in a tree for hours defining cold, hunger and bugs.

Bawl - A sound made by a deer that has been injured or scared. It is similar to a yell or shriek that a human would make.

Beam - The main branch of a antler from which tines grown on a white tail deer. This is also known as the main beam.

Bed - A place were a deer has laid down. This area is usually indicated by grass leaves and dirt compressed in a kidney shape on the ground.

Bedding Area - A area were deer often rest. Bedding areas are often surrounded by thick cover but allow the deer to see and hear approaching danger. Whitetail bedding areas are often found close to feeding areas.

Blacktail Deer - a mule deer, esp. the subspecies (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) found from N California to Alaska

Bleat - A sound made by does and fawns. Does bleat in social situations, as a contact call with fawns, to express distress or occasionally to let a buck know the doe's location. Fawns produce a bleat to keep in contact with does or as a call for help.

Boone & Crockett Club - a club that created a standardized way to score deer racks and maintains a list or record book of big game records. Boone & Crockett records rifle harvests

Browsing - Deer eat by quickly moving through the woods and chewing plants just enough to swallow them. The deer then returns to a safe area and chews the cud for further digestion. This type of eating is called browsing

Browtine - The first fork of the antler on a deer.

Buck - A male deer. Male deer or bucks grow antlers every year and then loose them after the matting season or rut.

Bull - A Male Elk is referred to as a Bull Elk. Elk are a close realtive to the whitetail deer although much large in size.

Calling - The act of calling for deer is to imitate sounds deer make in order to attract them to your area. Calling tactics include grunts, bleats, rattling, snort wheeze and more.

Compound Bow ATA Standard Draw Length - A method of measurement has been established to provide an industry standard of draw length and eliminate the variances in the original method caused by different thicknesses of bow risers. The ATA Standard Draw Length is arrived at by measuring the "Draw Length to Pivot Point" which is the distance from the string's nock point to the pivot point of the grip, and adding 1 and 3/4 inches. The 1 and 3/4 inches represents the average distance from the far side of the bow to the bow grips pivot point. Manufactures use this ATA Standard Draw Length when they designate the draw length of a bow.

Compound Bow Brace Height - The distance between the pivot point of the grip and the string at rest.

Coniferous Tree - Any gymnospermous tree or shrub bearing cones. Coniferous trees keep their needles during the winter and deer often use these trees for cover and food sources during the winter. These trees are also known as pine trees.

Cover Scent - A scent used to cover or hide human scent while hunting for deer and other big game animals.

Deer Decoy - A plastic replicate of a deer used to lure other deer into shooting range. Decoys are often used during the rut to get bucks in close enough to shoot at.

Deer Yard - A small area of land that attracts a large number of deer during winter months. These areas are usually attractive to deer because of the shelter and proximity of food sources.

DNR - Department of Natural Resources- A state agency in charge of wildlife management and hunting

Doe Trail - A deer trail that is heavily used primarily by does and fawns. These trails are also used by bucks during the rut. Look for trails with a lot of different size tracks and that are clear of most vegetation.

Dominant Buck - A male deer that establishes a territory and right to breed does in that territory by fighting and intimidation of smaller mail deer. Dominant bucks are usually the largest deer in the area.

Drop Tine - An antler point or tine that grows straight down from the main beam on the antlers of a mature whitetail deer.

Estrus Doe - When a doe is in heat, typically a 2-4 day period of time when that doe is capable of breading and will let a buck bread her.

Fawn - A newborn or baby deer. When baby deer are born the usually have white spots on them to help the hide in thick vegetation.

Pre-orbital glands - Gland in the forehead of deer used to leave scent on branches and twigs rubbed by the deer.

Guide services - providing any of the following: advice to hunters while hunting about how and/or where to hunt; setting decoys; calling, stalking, pursuing, tracking, field dressing; caring for meat; field preparation of trophies; carriage of hunters, hunter equipment, and/or animals harvested by the hunter

Grunt - A low pitched vocal call made by a buck to indicate aggression toward another buck

Herbivore - Any animal including the deer which eats only plant materials

Home Range - The area in which a deer spends it's entire life which is thought to be less then a few square miles as long as food, water and shelter is available in that range.

Horning - The actions of a buck as it rubs it's antlers and forehead against a licking branch that is over a scrape.

Hunting Outfitter - An outfitter is a person who both receives compensation (i.e., money, services, or gifts) from hunters and provides outfitting services to hunters. Outfitting services include providing guides, guide services*, equipment, stands, blinds, or transportation to and from the field for hunters.

Interdigital Gland - a scent gland located between a deer's hooves that leaves a scent trail for other deer as that deer walks

Lick - A branch above a scrape that is often licked and scent market by a gland in the forehead as a way for deer to communicate during the rut or mating season.

Metatarsal gland - A small scent gland on a deer that is located on the outside of each hind leg just above the dew claw.

Mule Deer - A brownish-gray deer (Odocoileus hemionus) of western North America, having long mule like ears, large branching antlers in the male, and a black-tipped tail. Mule deer will often be large in body mass the whitetail deer.

Non typical rack - A term referring to antlers on at deer that are not symmetrical and have often have points growing off other points on the antlers

Odocoileus Virginianus - The official scientific name of the whitetail deer

Pawing - The act of a buck as it uses it's front hooves to remove dirt and grass to make a scrape durring the rut.

Pedicals - Pedicals are the part of the bucks skull where antlers grow from. Buck fawns have pedicals but unless very close to the deer it is hard to distinguish a buck fawn from a buck doe by the pedicals- Learn More About Deer Antlers

Pope and Young - A standardized way of scoring and recording animals harvested by hunters for comparison purposes. Pope and Young records bow harvests.

Pre-rut - a period prior to the actual mating season or rut when bucks begin to establish territories and dominance in preparation for the rut.

Rattling - A buck calling technique were horns are rattled together by a hunter simulating two buck fitting in hope of attracting the attention of a another buck and luring that buck into shooting range.

Reticulum - The second chamber of a deer's stomach that holds partially chewed food

Rub - When a buck rubs or scrapes trees and branches with its antlers to mark territory and display dominance

Rumen - The first chamber of a deer's stomach that "washes" the browse a deer consumes with microorganisms designed to break down food

Ruminants - animals characteristically having a stomach divided into four compartments and chewing a cud consisting of regurgitated, partially digested food.

Scouting - Spending time in the woods looking for deer sign and areas to hunt during deer season

Scrape - Ground that is pawed up by a buck and then urinated in. A scrape is used to communicate with other deer and does let bucks know they are ready to breed by urinating in a scrape.

Sitka Blacktail - A sub species of the blacktail deer found in British Columbia and Alaska.

Snort - A loud puff of air forced through the nostrils of a deer to sound an alarm to other deer

Stalking - Stalking is the slow, silent pursuit of an animal that allows the hunter to get close enough for a good, clean shot.

Still Hunting - Still hunting is the continuous movement of a hunter through an animal’s environment in hopes of finding the desired game. The hunter takes a few steps, stops, looks around – sometimes with binoculars – and listens for the slightest sound of the game animal being hunted.

Tapetum - An area in the pigmented layer of the choroid coat of the eye in whitetail, which has an iridescent or metallic luster and helps to make the eye visible in the dark The tapetum is the part that glows or shines when you shine a bright light on a deer at night

Tarsal gland - A gland located on the inside of the deer's hind leg. This gland consists of a patch of elongated hairs underlain by an area of large sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands secrete a fatty lipid that adheres to the hairs of the tarsal gland. This area gives off a strong, musky odor. This odor is the result of urine being deposited on these glands and mixed with lipids during a behavior known as rub-urination. Deer use this gland to recognize other individuals in the herd and to give information relative to their sex, social status, and reproductive condition.

Tend - When a buck stays close to a female during mating season waiting for the female to come into estrus so that buck can breed the doe

Typical Rack - Deer antlers with points growing only off the front sides of the main beam

Velvet - The soft skin that covers a bucks antlers as they grow in. This velvet falls off in the fall and the antlers get hard.

Venison - Meat from a deer is called venison.

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My name is Caleb and I am obsessed with hunting, fishing, and foraging. To be successful, you have to think like your prey. You have to get into the mind of your target - and understand Big Game Logic. If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.