Can Whitetails Jump High-Fences?

posted on January 30, 2015
bs_2015_fs.jpg (1)

undefinedThe Debate

In arguing for the use of game ranches that employ high fences to contain the deer herd within, I've heard some people say, "Deer could jump the fence if they wanted to, but why would they when they have everything they need inside?"

Arguments for or against game ranches aside, I want to know:

Can a whitetail really jump a high fence?

Of course that depends on the height of the fence, but let's use an 8-foot fence, as this is the average size of game ranch fences. I am generally on the side of the whitetails' Air-Jordan-esque leaping ability on this, because I have personally seen them leap over high fences. (In fact, I took the photo of the deer leaping the fence that you see here.) But I didn't bother to measure the fence's height, and therefore I can't know for certain. So, I turn to people who would know, because experiments with wild animals are difficult if not impossible to control.

The Expert Opinion

The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) is the authority when it comes to deer biology and behavior. Its website says the following, as written by Kip Adams: "One research project showed nearly all of the deer jumped a 6-foot fence, most jumped a 7-foot fence, but less than 5 percent jumped an 8-foot fence. That doesn't mean the other deer couldn't jump 8 feet high, it simply means they didn't during the study.  While I was in graduate school at the University of New Hampshire we had a deer at our research facility get spooked and jump over an 8-foot fence after taking only 1 to 2 steps."

The Ole Boy Who's Seen 'Em Do It

Jed Knowlton owns and operates Knowlton's Laguna Vista Ranch in West Texas. It's a high-fence operation that harbors many whitetails. If anyone has seen deer jump fences, it's Jed or the thousands of Texas game ranchers like him.

"I have seen them jump it when they are pushed or a really hot doe is on the other side and they really want her," said Jed. However, he could produce no video. So BullShooters is calling on you: If you or someone you know has a video of a whitetail jumping an 8-foot fence, please let us know.

The Answer By trustworthy eyewitness accounts, it is probable that whitetails can jump 8-feet-high game fences. But until we see video of a measured game fence, we will consider it probable. Why they want to, or not, is another question.


Olsen Shooting Matrix
Olsen Shooting Matrix

#SundayGunday: TriStar Matrix

Get a closer look at the TriStar Matrix, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Late-Season Whitetail Muzzleloader Tactics

To be successful in late-season muzzleloader seasons, it’s best to focus on feed available this time of year, the whitetails’ need to rest, and the fact that as much as 10 percent of the doe population will come into estrus in December.

First Look: Savage Arms KLYM Rifles

Designed for the modern hunter, Savage’s new KLYM rifles feature exclusive partnerships with PROOF Research and Fine Ballistic Tools to deliver lightweight rigs that are accurate and durable.

10 Great Long-Range Hunting Bullets

If you want to extend your maximum effective range with a hunting rifle, you must have a purpose-built long-range hunting bullet. These loads are up to the task.

#SundayGunday: Mossberg Patriot LRT

Get a closer look at the Mossberg Patriot LRT, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Member’s Hunt: Dad’s Lifetime Buck

This latest Member's Hunt comes from Rodney Harrison of Lawson, Mo.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.