Reading Deer Tracks

Deer Tracks - Buck or Doe?

Every hunter knows what a deer track looks like, but very few hunters take the time to evaluate them while deer hunting. One thing we know for sure when we see deer tracks is that there has been deer in that area.

Can you tell the sex of a deer by looking at it's tracks?

This has been a long debated question by some hunters. There are those that believe you can't tell the difference between a buck and doe track. I'm here to tell you that you can. Okay, I'll be the first to admit that in most cases you can't just see a track and immediately say.. "yes, thats a buck track". But if you are interested enough to follow that track for a bit, you'll be surprised at what you can learn.

Track Size

The most obvious first clue to knowing if the track you are on is a buck is the size. A big buck will always have a bigger track than you are use to seeing and will be much bigger than any doe tracks that you will come across. Although it is true that there are some big does, hardly any will ever have a track comparible to a big mature buck.

The "Stagger" and The "Gait"

Stagger is the distance between the left and right track. Big bucks have much wider chests than does therefore their tracks will be wider apart from side to side. Younger, smaller whitetails tend to have tracks that appears to be in a straight line, where as a big buck will have a distinct separation between the right and left track. The wider the stagger... the bigger bodied the deer.

Gait is the distance between the front track and the rear track. Much like bigger humans have longer strides, so do bigger bucks have longer gaits.

Observing the combination of gait and stagger when examining a track makes it possible to nearly tell the size of the deer you are tracking long before you ever see it.

Check The Urine Stains In The Snow

This is one of the ways to tell the difference between a buck and doe track even if the deer are the same size. Because of the different position of male and female deer genitals on their bodies it is fairly easy to tell if you are tracking a buck or doe by urine stain placement within the tracks. Bucks tend to urunate farther forward than a doe and during the rutting season have a much deeper amber to maroonish color urine stain. Even the younger bucks, that can be smaller than a mature doe, will have the same urine placement and color as the older bucks... making it easy to determine you are dealing with a buck track.

So, next time you come across a deer track and are curious as to what sex the deer is, take some time to follow and observe. It may be easier than you think to pick up the clues to find the answer to your question.

Tracks of the Whitetail Buck

This is the most detailed and comprehensive guide to whitetail hoofs, tracks and tracking that has ever been written. Based on original research and documented by more than 60 photographs and illustrations, this guide describes details that will help you distinguish buck tracks from doe tracks, age tracks, estimate the size of a buck by his tracks and much more.

click here to view and buy the book

Back to Deer Sign from Deer Tracks

Sign Up FREE!

and recieve our upcoming newsletters and other site info.


First Name

Go to my Blog

(click on photo to Order)

(click on Book to Order)

Shed Hunting
By Joe Shead

Deer Hunting
in the Adirondacks
By Dan Ladd

A Lifetime of Big Woods
Hunting Memories
By Todd mead

Back Country Bucks
By Todd mead