How Should You Respond If You Wind Up Getting Too Close To A Deer?

While you may have an idea of what to do if you see a mountain lion or if you run into a wolf in the woods, we are willing to bet that you haven't thought too much about what you should do if you encounter deer. This is probably because deer are seen as shy and docile animals. However, just like all wildlife, even deer can become aggressive under the right circumstances.

So, what should you do if you ever get too close to a deer? The best option is to simply back away while facing the animal and try to get a distance of at least 50 meters (the length of an Olympic swimming pool) between you and it. No matter how surprised you are, you should avoid turning and running from a deer as this may cause it to chase you.

Above all else, you should never feed a deer. Although a deer may look calm at first, it is still a wild animal and may unexpectedly turn aggressive and attack a person who ventures too close. An example of this phenomenon can be seen in Japan's Nara Park, where over 200 people were injured while feeding wild deer in 2019, per The Japan Times.

What causes a deer to become aggressive?

Outside of Nara Park in Japan (where deer have become accustomed to being hand-fed by tourists and get angry when teased), deer attacks on humans are much more rare. In the U.S., there are an estimated one to two deer attacks per year, per Gitnux.

Despite this, you should always avoid a deer that is acting aggressively — and deer are much more likely to become agitated during certain times of the year. Male deer (bucks) can be quite aggressive in the fall when they are in their rut and are warring with other males for the right to mate. On the other hand, female deer (does) are more aggressive in the spring and summer when they likely have fawns nearby. In fact, a doe usually never strays too far from her fawn, which is why you should also always leave a baby deer alone if you come across one in the woods.

Another reason a deer may become aggressive is if you are with your dog. While a deer may not recognize you as a threat, it is much more likely to see your dog as a predator. If a deer doesn't run away from you or your dog and is staring directly at you or following you, that is a sign that it may become aggressive. In this situation, you should keep your dog close and quickly leave the area.

How to react if a deer attacks you

If you believe a deer is about to attack you, you can start waving your arms and shouting or making loud noises in an attempt to scare the animal away. If this fails and the deer charges, the first thing you should do is try and put an object between you and the animal whether that's a tree, car, or building. You can also try to get up high by climbing on top of a boulder or up into a tree to get away. Whatever you do, you should avoid curling up into a ball on the ground, as this will make it easy for the animal to kick and stomp on you, which can lead to serious injury.

While you may not want to harm an animal, when you are being attacked, defending yourself is the most important priority. Therefore, if necessary, you can resort to throwing rocks or swinging a stick in the direction of the deer to help defend yourself from its dangerous hooves. If you ever experience a deer attack, it is important to report it to your local wildlife agency. This way, the agency can keep a record of attacks and also decide how best to protect visitors from animals in the future.

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