How Far Can Deer Swim. As whitetail deer approach adulthood they are becoming much more capable in the water.
This is good news for hunters as that means you have better opportunities to bag a mature buck or an elusive bull moose that has decided to haul ass through the local lake, river or even the ocean.
But, let’s leave moose out of this article because I can’t stand their smell and behavior when they are angry.
Let’s talk about deer instead, does specifically. If you are not familiar with them then please read up on them so you know what your chances are of getting close enough to bag one after it decides to go for a dip in the nearest body of water available; which could be your favorite fishing hole (which may miss next season).
Deer are not as graceful as a moose but they have been known to swim across large bodies of water including the Gulf of Mexico, from island to island.
How Far Can Deer Swim
Actually, deer are born swimmers. Their webbed feet and legs allow them to keep their bodies stable as they glide through the water in an almost trance-like state of serenity. They have been documented to swim 10 miles or more between islands or back and forth to the closest mainland with ease. Most rivers and streams are small ponds compared to their expansive habitats and pose no real challenge at all!
What makes Hard for Deer to swim?
The factors that make it most difficult for a deer to swim are their large body, lack of fins/flippers, lack of blood vessels in their legs which would act like oars or flippers.
They can’t utilize any part of their anatomy as an oar because instead of having webbed feet they have narrow hoofs with sharp ends which wouldn’t really “dig” into anything.
One thing about swimming is that you need something to push off from so if there are no rocks nor other solid objects within reach then your best bet is to paddle against open water with your front legs (which are the strongest) while keeping your back legs (weakest) stationary.
Whitetail deer seem to be most at ease in a head-up position while swimming and their noses will be held just beneath the surface while still being able to breath. This is because having fun while swimming makes them forget about their lack of oars, steering mechanism, fins/flippers so they can focus on making it across that body of water or lake before dinner time.
What about crossing a river?
River crossings are done quite often by deer especially during hunting season when they have been spotted from afar and have no choice but to run for cover which usually means diving into the nearest creek or levee that may lead into a corn field where they expect to lose their pursuers.
They will also cross a river if they have been chased away from their territory and no longer feel safe, hungry or really because it’s a natural reaction to anything that is frightening them. Crossing a river can be done rather quickly as long as the water isn’t too deep but then again you never know what lies beneath those surface currents which can be strong depending on how large the body of water happens to be.
Tired deer might drown because… well they tire easily as all animals do especially when weight has been added because now they have to somehow float or swim around with extra baggage! This makes it harder for them to stay afloat so look closely at this photo below and you’ll notice she doesn’t seem to be swimming all that well.
Although her head appears above the water it’s not completely out of danger since she’s unable to make much progress and certainly isn’t anywhere near shore (notice the deer in the background). She seems to be scratching her back against something I can only imagine which might be a rock or some other hard object that protrudes from the bottomless depths of this underwater cave.
So what would cause a deer to drown?
They don’t normally drown because they’ll eventually tire and simply swim toward safety and if doesn’t look like it’s within reach then there is always a possibility they may seek refuge on an island or nearby bank – even if covered with thorny vines.
Whitetail deer depend largely on their eyesight when crossing an obstacle which is why they will swim toward any safe haven that they can see. If the water becomes too deep then they will feel increasingly frightened, threatened and could even break into a full-fledged panic attack where everything else gets put on hold until it’s safe again.