Have you ever seen a whitetail deer jump? It’s a fascinating thing to watch, whether you see it up close or from afar.
If you’re a hunting land owner, you may have encountered times when you need to make sure your deer stays in your land so that you and other hunters could find them and make a harvest. On the other hand, if you own a crop farm (or just a home garden), you probably want to keep deer out so they don’t eat your plants.
Today we are going to answer the question of how high can a whitetail deer jump, and we will learn the reasons why they jump and why they don’t.
How High Can a Whitetail Jump?
There are many studies and recorded instances showing whitetails jumping heights of 6 to 8 feet from a standing position, and I have personally witnessed this happen on a few occasions.
Experts claim that a whitetail deer can jump higher—even up to 12 feet high!—if it is given a running head start. However, not many deer attempts this jump, for several good reasons, some of which we will discuss below.
Why Do Whitetails Jump—or Why Don’t They?
While most people may think that a deer would naturally jump over a high fence when it sees one, this isn’t always the case. Like other living things, deer have a natural sense of preservation, which they follow as best as they can.
Here are some reasons why deer jump and why they don’t:
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Whitetail deer buck jumping over fence
A whitetail deer has eyes on the sides of its head instead of up front because this helps it spot incoming predators. However, while this may help a whitetail avoid danger, it also decreases its depth perception.
Limited depth perception prevents a deer from making accurate estimates of the distance of objects and landmarks. This means that it couldn’t really tell how high a fence is at first glance, so it would be unwilling to jump over it unless it is totally necessary.
Whitetails also have difficulty seeing the top of the fence because it cannot register colors well, other than yellow and deep blue. Most fences do not reflect these colors well, so a deer would be hard pressed to see its top, especially in low-light conditions.
Safety and Convenience
If a whitetail deer can find another way around the fence without jumping over, it would most certainly try this first. Because of its sense of preservation, it will try to avoid uncertainty at all cost, and if it realizes that going through or under the fence might be a better choice, it would most likely go for it.
This video is just a sample of how a deer went back and forth under a fence at night instead of jumping over it:
So what could motivate a whitetail to jump over a fence? A sign of danger would be a good incentive for it. For instance, it is trying to run away from a predator like a wild dog or coyote and suddenly found itself trapped. With instinct kicking in, the deer will not hesitate to jump over a fence, even if it cannot see where it will land on the other side.
Check out this video of how a herd of deer jumps over a fence when it sensed danger coming its way:
Another reason why a deer may try to jump over a fence and risk exposure is if it is suffering from starvation. This usually happens during winter and there is a scarcity of food for them in hunting lands and even in natural forests.
Sometimes, when a deer gets hungry enough, it may risk exposing itself for a bit and jump over the fence of a private plot just to be able to eat something that would keep its hunger at bay.
How High Should a Deer Fence Be?
Whether you own a hunting plot and want to keep deer in or you own a crop lot and want to keep deer out, you may want to invest on a good deer fence to keep whitetails on the side you want them to stay in.
- An eight-foot upright fence normally does the trick, since deer usually won’t jump higher than that from a standing position. You can also install a lower fence (6 to 7 feet high), but you may want to keep it slanted outward at a 45-degree angle to create an illusion of height, discouraging deer to jump over it.
- As an alternative, you can also install two low fences about 4 feet apart, with each fence about 5 feet high. Because deer can’t estimate the distance properly, they would normally not try jumping over it and risk getting trapped between the two fences.
While a typical whitetail deer can jump up to eight feet high from a standing position, you should remember that it could jump higher if it is given a head start and enough motivation, such as a predator giving chase.
If you want to keep your deer on your hunting land, consider building a fence that is 8 feet high and standing upright. Or you can go a little lower and just slant the fence outward, or go even lower but build two fences. This may also work if you want to keep deer off your property.
Did this article help? Do you have other recommendations on fence height? Leave them in the comments’ section below. I’d love to hear them!