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Deer Hunting Terms Phrases & Slang. Your Deer Hunting Dictionary

deer hunting phrases

Deer hunting words are not a different language. Although to the uninitiated it may seem that way sometimes. 

Take for instance the time I was talking to a non hunting buddy about my recent deer hunting adventure. After listening politely for about 10 minutes he finally piped up with “ Say What?’ 

That gave me an idea to put together this deer hunting terms glossary.

There are many deer hunting terms and phrases that get used all over the country. This article will cover a lot of deer hunting slang and terminology - good old deer hunting lingo. 

Now I realize each state and region may have its own particular deer hunting terms so if something is missed here or you would like to add some more terms then please  Contact Us

Send through your suggestions and I will add them to this deer hunting glossary. If you would like to be credited with the new deer hunting term please let me know in the contact form.

So here we go. Learn these deer hunting terms, hopefully you may pick up a new one or two and talk the deer hunting lingo like a pro.

Deer Hunting Terms

A - B

deer hunting terminology

Abomasum

The digesting chamber of the deer’s stomach. It is the fourth stomach chamber.


Albino Deer

A deer with a white coat of fur.


Antlers

These are bony growths on a male deer’s (buck’s) head. They are also referred to as racks.  “Nice rack on that one” They fall off once a year and are regrown, reaching their prime during the rut. They are not horns.


Atypical Antlers

These are a deer's antlers hat have not  grow evenly matched on the right and left side. They may have points or tines sticking in various directions. Also referred to as non-typical antlers.


Bachelor Group

This deer hunting term is used to describe a group of mid to older age male deer hanging out together. This occurs over summer and fall before the rut starts when the group separates and begin fighting each other over the females. (Does)


Bag Limit

The number of animals you are legally allowed to harvest in one day.


Baldy

Deer hunting slang for a female deer or an antlerless male deer.


Bawl 

The sound made by an injured or scared deer.

Learn all the different sounds deer make here.


BBD

Deer hunting slang for Big Buck Down. Exactly the deer hunting phrase you want to be telling your buddies.


Beam

The major beam of a deer’s antlers is the centre antler that has the smaller tines (points) coming off it. Antler beam also refers to as the thickness of the antler.


Bed or Bedding

The place a deer will lay down and rest. This is typically where deer spend most of the time during the daylight. Generally very well hidden from your prying eyes.


Blaze Orange

Colored hunting gear to help make the hunter stand out from the surrounding vegetation. Useful to help you stop being shot by other hunters. Comes in camo pattern to still allow human shape to be broken up.


Bleat or Bleating

Deer language made by does and fawns. The fawn will use this sound all year to call its mother often for help. A doe will bleat to call in the bucks during the rutting season.


Blinds

An enclosure hunters hide in with the hope of seeing a deer. Deer hunters will get to know their blinds very well.


Blowing (or Snort)

Deer communication to warn of danger. Deer hunter lingo is “ I just got snorted”.


Boone & Crockett

Set up by Theodore Roosevelt, this organization keeps official records of big game animals harvested as well as maintaining a uniform scoring system of antlers. Boone & Crockett Site.


Bottleneck

A natural landscape feature requiring the deer to pass through a narrow passage.


Broadside

When a deer is standing fully “side on” to you so you can see the whole side of their body. The best angle to take a heart lung shot from.

See this guide on the Best Shot Placement For Deer. 


Browsing

No this deer hunting lingo does not refer to shopping. It describes how deer generally feed which is to walk and nibble vegetation on the move.


Brow Tine

The first tine coming off the main beam closest to the bucks head.


Buck

A male deer. Also called a stag.


Buck Fever

Deer hunting words for the hunter who gets a bit too nervous when coming across a big buck. Often results in an early and or poor shot.


Busted

This deer hunting term is often followed by a lot of swearing. It describes what happens when a deer becomes aware of the hunter resulting in the deer running away.


Bump

This hunting terminology refers to when the hunter disturbs a deer from its bedding area. Often the hunter will then set up a blind or stand to monitor the bedding area.


Button Buck

A very young male deer that has bumps on its head instead of antler growth.

Deer Hunting Terms

C - F

deer hunting lingo

Calling

The process of a hunter trying to communicate with deer. Various calls designed to imitate deer vocals such as grunts, bleats and snorts.

See this article on Deer Communication - Sounds Scent And Body Language.


Camo or Camouflage

What hunters spend a lot of money on in the hope of being invisible to the deer. Designed to help the hunter blend in with the background. Clothing, blinds backpacks all come in various camo patterns.


Cervidae

The scientific name for the deer family.


Climber

A type of tree stand that wraps around the trunk that allows the hunter to climb the tree. It also has a seat on for the hunter who spends many an hour sitting on it.


Cover

The thick area of woods that deer will hide in. Where hunters will set up a blind to conceal their presence.


Cover Scent

Not the latest aftershave or perfume. Cover scent is applied by the hunter to mask the smell of human scent.


Dandy

A good sized buck but not the biggest in the group.


Dinky

A not so good sized buck. Too small.


DNR 

Department of Natural Resources. Involved with all forms of wildlife management in each state.


Doe

Doe a deer a female deer. Far a long long way to run.


Doe Trail

The animal trail used mainly by does and their fawns. It can be recognized by the different sized tracks (animal footprints) along the same path.


Dominant buck

Deer hunting term for the buck with the biggest rack. Usually the most aggressive buck in the group that has his pick of does and food sources.


Drive

Not what you do on the way to the hunt. This is a hunting technique whereby a group of hunters will walk through the cover pushing other deer towards a group of waiting hunters. Combined with a natural bottleneck this can be a very effective hunting tactic.


Drop Tine

An antler point growing straight down from the main beam. This is an atypical (see above) antler formation.


Droppings

Polite hunting terminology for deer shit. A lot can be told by deer droppings if you know how to read them. But that's another article.


Estrus

The state a doe is in when ready to mate. Also called in heat. Usually lasts for 2 to 3 days.


Fawn

A young deer recently born. A Whitetail fawn typically has white spots to help it hide in surrounding vegetation.


Field Dressing

Hunting lingo for removing the entrails of a fresh kill near where it was shot prior to butchering. It doesn't mean getting dressed in the woods for a night out.


Flag

The underneath of deer tail seen by many a hunter as the deer runs away.


Flat Tops

Deer hunting term for a doe.


Flehmening

Not the author of James Bond books. This deer hunting term refers to the buck testing the scent of doe piss to see if she is in estrus and ready to breed.


Forkhorn or Forky

Deer hunting terminology to describe a buck with two antler points on each side. In other words a small four point buck.


Food Plot

An area of land set aside to grow food to attract deer. Common food plot foods include oats, clover and soybean. An excellent reference article from the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) can be found here.


Forage

Deer hunting terminology to describe the food deer eat in a general sense.


Funnels

Same hunting word as bottleneck above, to describe a narrow natural landscape feature requiring the animals to travel through.

Deer Hunting Terms

G - K

deer hunting terms

Ghost Deer

A hunting phrase to describe a deer that can not be found during the day, but one the hunter knows is moving through the territory. Conclusion is the deer moves only at night time.


Glassing

Looking for deer hour after hour using binoculars or a spotting scope.


Grunt

Not a marine. Hunting term for the sound a buck makes typically a signal of aggression.

See this article on Deer Communication - Sounds Scent And Body Language.


Grunt Tube

A device to make the deer grunt call during the rut in the hope it will attract a buck looking to see who is in his territory.


Ground Blind

Same as blind above. A small tent like structure  hunters hide in with the hope of seeing a deer.


Ground Shrinkage

The natural phenomenon when a hunter walks up to a buck that has been shot only to find it is not as big as first thought.


Gut Shot

A terrible shot on a deer. This usually results in a slow painful death for the animal as well as hours of follow up tracking by the hunter to find the wounded animal. See this guide on the Best Shot Placement For Deer.


Hang On Stands

Tree stands a hunter secures to a tree that then remains in place. Also called lock-on tree stands. Different to the climbing tree stand described above.


Harvest

Hunting terminology for a deer killed.


In Heat

See Estrus above. When a doe is ready to breed.


Heavy Horned

Deer hunting lingo to describe a buck with thick antlers. Coincides with the phrase “Great Rack”.


Hide

The skin of a deer. Also what deer do when you are out hunting all day.


Hind

Another deer hunting term for a female deer or doe.


Home Range

The area a deer will spend most of its life.


Horning

A hunting phrase to describe the act of a buck rubbing and scraping its antlers on tree branches. Bit silly really as deer do not have horns. Cows have horns.


Hunter Orange

Not a particular fruit but reference to the blaze orange color hunters wear to help keep them safe from other hunters.


Hunting Outfitter

A hunting outfitter is someone who assists a hunter in arranging a hunting guide, area and equipment.


Interdigital Gland

A gland between the toes of a deer's foot that leaves a scent as they move around. Another way deer communicate with each other.


Killing Plot

Another hunting term to describe a food plot. See above.


Killing Stand

A different hunting phrase to describe a well positioned tree stand.

Deer Hunting Terms

L - P

deer hunting terms

Ladder Stand

A type of tree stand that as the name suggests consists of a ladder type components to allow the hunter to climb the tree.


Lick

Hunting slang for the branch or ground minerals deer will lick or rub their forehead glands on to leave their scent. Another form of deer communication.


Lip Curl

A male deer will curl his lip and breath in the scent of does to determine if they are in estrus and therefore ready for breeding.


Lock Down

The period during the rut when a buck is so focused on the does in estrus that he barely eats or drinks in his sole pursuit of the female.


Management Buck or Doe

A deer that has been raised on a ranch for hunting. Typically not a trophy sized animal.


Mass

A way to describe the thickness of a bucks antlers.


Mast

Nothing to do with sailing boats. Hunters use this word to describe the nuts and fruits found on trees.


Matching Set

Hunting words for when you find a matching set of antlers that have been shed (dropped) by a deer.


Metatarsal Gland

Scientific Terminology for the small scent gland found outside of each hind leg on a deer.


Mount

Hunting term for the taxidermied deer head and or shoulder that is mounted on a wall.


Nannies

Deer hunting reference used for female deer. Also used regularly in reference to female goats.


Nocturnal

Deer moving at night, particularly in areas of heavy hunting pressure. Some bucks may be solely nocturnal.


Non Typical

Deer hunting term used to describe antlers that have not formed evenly. See atypical antlers above.


Nubbin Buck

Another deer hunting term to describe a young buck with bumps on its head instead of antler growth. See also Button Buck.


Odocoileus Virginianus

Not hunting lingo, rather the scientific name for whitetail deer.


October Lull

Hunter slang for I haven't managed to see any deer.


Old Long Nose

Hunting phrase to reference an old female deer.


Paunch

Another term for the gut of a deer. Not where you should be shooting.


Pawing

When a buck is moving grass and dirt with its feet.


Pinch Point

The final part of a funnel or bottleneck as described above. Natural landscape feature.


Pre Rut

The beginning of the mating season where the bucks are starting to seek out does in estrus. It is the period before the bucks become “Locked Down”. See above - Which is when the hunting phase changes to just “The Rut”.


Processing

The act of butchering a deer for that lovely venison. Here are some great venison recipes for you to try. 


Post Rut

Typically runs for a couple of weeks after the peak mating period. Bucks are still seeking out any receptive does but the majority of the females are no longer interested as they have already mated.

Deer Hunting Terms

Q - S

introducing youths to hunting

QDM Quality Deer Management

A way to manage deer so there are always big bucks to harvest and the ratio of male to female is roughly even. Also a great website on deer management from the Quality Deer Management Association.


Quarter

When butchering a deer this phrase means to take off the quarters or all four legs.


Quartering Shot

A deer hunting term to describe the angle of shot taken on a deer. The quartering away shot means the deer is slightly facing away from the hunter. The quartering on shot means the deer is facing slightly towards you.

See this guide on the Best Shot Placement For Deer.

​​

Rack

Another term for antlers. A common hunting phrase you will often hear is “Nice Rack” and this may not always be said when out hunting.


Rattle or Rattling

Not a toy you give to a baby. This is the phrase deer hunters use when rubbing or knocking together a pair of deer antlers, (real or man made), to imitate the sound of two bucks fighting in the hope of drawing their attention.


Resident Buck

Hunting terminology to describe a buck that hangs around in the same area for long periods of time.


Rub

The act of a buck rubbing its antlers and scent glands on a tree to mark out his territory. A common form of deer communication. It is also the process a buck uses to remove the velvet from his antlers before the rutting season. Rubbing will also strengthen a bucks neck muscles of the upcoming fighting season.


Rumens Reticulum and Ruminants

Deer have four stomach chambers in which they digest their food. Like cows this involves chewing the cud. The Rumen refers to first chamber in a deer's stomach and is for storage of food.  The reticulum is the second chamber and microorganisms begin to break down the food here. After this the food is chewed again and sent down to the third chamber called the Omasum. The water from the food source is absorbed here. Finally the cud enters the fourth chamber called the Abomasum where it is further digested.


Rut

A bucks and hunters favorite time of the year. The breeding season. There are various phases to the rut.

The Pre Rut as the bucks and does begin to mark out their territory.

The Beginning Rut as the bucks begin to fight each other and seek out does. The Peak Rut when all the main breeding happens.

The Post Rut occurring after peak breeding time when any of the last does that have not bred are sought out.


Sanctuary

Hunting term for an area of land where hunters do not go. Or Should Not Go. This gives the deer a safe place to lay up. The hunter can then go after the deer as they travel from their sanctuary to their food and water sources.


Scent

What both deer and hunters leave behind as they travel through the hunting area.


Scent Control

Same as cover scent mentioned above. It is what hunters put on to try and mask their human stink.


Score

A measurement of the deers antlers using the Boone and Crockett measuring system. Other countries have different official measuring systems. For example in Australia they use the Douglas scoring system.


Scouting

Hunting lingo for investigating a possible hunting area for sign of deer activity.


Scrape

An area of ground a buck has pawed with his feet and pissed on to leave his scent. Communication method between deer. Other bucks are warned of his presence and does will get a message as to the worthiness of this particular buck leaving the scrape.


Shed

Dropped antlers hunters look for lying on the ground outside of hunting season. Typically occurs during late winter months.


Shooter

Deer hunting lingo for a good sized deer worth taking.


Spike or Spiker

A male deer with small antlers - only one tine. Often a much younger male.


Sparring

Not in the boxing ring. This is a deer hunting term to describe when bucks have mock or gentle fights to size each other up.


Snort (& Wheeze)

A buck makes this snorting sound to let another buck know he is not happy with his presence. A good call for hunters to practice in an attempt to call in a dominant buck. See this deer communication article for a full range of deer vocabulary.


Stalking

Deer hunting lingo for walking slowly through the wilderness looking for deer.

Deer Hunting Terms

T - Z

deer hunting checklist free pdf

Tag

A legal requirement to purchase for each animal you intend to harvest. This is in addition to your hunting license.


Taxidermy

The process of having your harvested buck’s skin and head stuffed and mounted. The taxidermist is the person who performs this delicate task for you.


Tend or Tending

Deer hunting phrase to describe a buck that is staying close to a particular female waiting for her to come into estrus.


Tines

The single part of the antler extending up. Also referred to as an antler point.


Velvet

This is the tissue that covers the antlers during their growth phase. It is actually a mix of blood vessels and nerves. Prior to the antler becoming calcified it will be covered in velvet and is very sensitive to the deer. Once the antlers become calcified and harden the deer will rub and thrash their antlers on vegetation to get rid of this velvet.


Venison

Some of the best eating meat going around. It’s deer meat. Awesome Wild Game Meat Recipes Here.


Vitals

The deer’s vitals are the heart and lung areas. This is the best place to shoot a deer for a quick humane kill.


White Flag

See also flag above. This is what many hunters see, being the deer running away with its tail in the air.

I hope you have found this deer hunting terms glossary useful and perhaps learned a few terms you didn't know. If you have a non hunting buddy struggling to understand what you are talking about send them over to this deer hunting glossary to get up to speed.

There are so many deer hunting phrases particular to different regions of the country. so I would love to include your specific deer hunting lingo.

Just hit the contact link below and send them through to me and I will add them to this list. If you would like to be credited with the new deer hunting term please let me know in your message. Contact Us

More great hunting articles and stories to explore.

Paul

Walk Little……..Look Lots