Whitetails: Which Apex Predator Do They Fear The Most?

Dr. Daniel Crawford sought to find out which apex predator struck the most fear in whitetail deer. They did this playing the calls of predators such as wolves, coyotes, and others to see which the deer would react to the quickest. As a control, he also played the calls of various local birds to see if the deer had any reaction to those sounds. He used trail cams to capture the reaction of the deer.

Dr. Daniel Crawford is affiliated with the Jones Center of Ichauway, Georgia and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Center at Texas A&M University – Kingsville. He conducted his study at the Jones Center, a 29,000 acre reserve, located in southwest Georgia and it formed the basis of his Ph.D. dissertation.

The video below with Lindsay Thomas of the National Deer Association shows many clips that Dr. Crawford and his team recorded. You might be surprised at which apex predator caused the strongest flight response in whitetail deer.

If you are interested in reading more about the research on this super-predator interaction with whitetail deer, Dr. Crawford published an article in the journal Oecologia where he goes into much more detail.

5 thoughts on “Whitetails: Which Apex Predator Do They Fear The Most?”

  1. I suspect this depends heavily on the area. Around the D.C. suburbs I can literally walk up to deer and nearly pet them. I’ve fielded requests (from geothermal-using Prius-driving liberal women) to kill specific suburban deer who were eating their hostas. As if thats how it works. During the first two weeks of bow season (early Sept), I’ve had deer walk right under my stand. They are generally clueless. By firearms season (Thanksgiving), they are experts. There are too many people with unhuntable half and one acre properties, lots of food (people feed them too), so the deer get lazy and tender. The suburban deer here are overpopulated. I could get three from my bedroom with a bow on any given day. I think that if it was easy as putting out some some speakers to ward off the deer, people would do it.

    1. Yeah, I have encountered deer that were downright hostile. Stalking and bluff charges. I think it was toward my dog as the locals told me there was a lot of coyote predation of fawns. But I was right there. Dog, being part border collie, wasn’t going to put up with any crap from a herd animal and they wouldn’t stand against her countercharge. Just before hunting season so maybe they got more cautious later.

  2. Did they play the call of the real apex predator, at least in my local area, which is the F-150 followed closely by the Silverado.

    1. Reminds me of an old friend who lived in Gettysburg, PA. He nailed a deer with a Dodge Caravan mini-van.

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