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.


Olmsted Shooting Brass Axe
Olmsted Shooting Brass Axe

#SundayGunday: Henry Lever Action Brass Axe .410

Get a closer look at the Henry Lever Action Brass Axe .410, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Debating Anti-Hunters Part II

The author had an exchange about the local coyote population in Northern Virginia with a woman on social media. Their discussion serves as a good follow-up to his last article on handling anti-hunters.

Mozambique Common Sense Hunting Tips

Hunters should always be on the lookout for know-how they can use. On a buffalo hunt in Mozambique, the author was all too happy to soak up some bushcraft that can be of use to us all in North America.

Choosing the Best Optics Setup for Western Big-Game Hunting

An ideal optics setup for Western big-game hunting includes a binocular, spotting scope, rangefinder and riflescope. Here’s how to choose the best of each for your needs.  

#SundayGunday​: Bushmaster 450 Bravo Zulu

Get a closer look at the Bushmaster 450 Bravo Zulu, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Recipe: Venison Stroganoff

This recipe is quick and easy to make, and the longer you let it simmer, the better it gets.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.