Why Do Deer “Blow?”

why do deer blow

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So, you’re sneaking through the woods, moving slower and slower as you approach your tree. 

Then, all of a sudden, “PHPHPH!”

Your heart instantly tries to leap from your chest as you stand there listening to the fading sound of running deer. They may still be blowing as they run or they may not.

Either way, you’re left wondering if your hunt is over before it even began. You may also be wondering, “Why do deer blow?”

Why do deer blow?

At the root level, deer blow for one reason – survival. They blow as a way of alerting other deer of danger. They may blow when they see a threat (i.e. you or a coyote). 

They may also blow when they smell a threat. Deer live and die by their noses, so if you’ve ever been high up in a tree, not moving a muscle, but heard a deer blow back in the cover where there was no way it spotted you – yep, it smelled you.

Deer may also blow just from hearing a threat approaching. I’ve found, however, that more often than not, if a deer doesn’t see or smell you, but can hear you approaching, it will usually just get up and run.

You’ll usually hear it get and watch as it bounds away with its white tail high in the air.

Is my hunt ruined when a deer blows?

If a deer blows, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your hunt is over. You need to determine that by looking at the bigger picture.

Are you still walking to your stand? How long have you been set up? Is there only an hour or so until dark? How close are you to a bedding area or a food source?

These are all questions to ask yourself to determine if your whole hunt is blown.

If there’s only 30 minutes left of daylight and a deer blew 20 yards from your stand, then in my experience, it’s not likely that you’ll get the opportunity you’re looking for that day.

On the other hand, if you’ve gotten set up in the dark and you’re waiting for sunrise when a deer blows behind you, your hunt is definitely not over.

I’ve had great hunts on many occasions where deer have blown at me while I was getting setup before sunrise.

Remember, deer are used to hearing deer blow. It doesn’t always mean, “Hey guys, there’s a hunter out here!” 

Sometimes, it just means, “Guys, it’s another coyote who is probably not going to stick around, but it’s here now!”

Why do some deer blow several times and some only once?

That is a good question, and I can only answer based on anecdotal evidence. From what I’ve seen, the deer that blow once and bound off seem very sure that there is danger in a certain direction.

They blow and run off in the direction they know is safe. They may have seen, smelt, or heard danger coming from that one direction and they know they need to run the opposite direction.

On the flip side, the deer that stand around blowing and stomping their feet don’t seem to know exactly where the danger is, but they know it’s there.

When you’ve got a 1-mph wind and your scent is just dropping and pooling all over the ground, you may have a deer at 20 yards that just stands around blowing, stomping, and looking in different directions.

I believe these deer don’t quite know which way to go. Eventually, they figure it out. But I don’t think they know at first.

Why do deer stomp their feet when they blow?

Some deer stomp their feet when they blow as more of a physical cue that there is danger lurking. I’ve seen deer stomp their feet without blowing, putting the whole herd she was with on notice.

I’ve also seen deer stand around blowing and stomping for what seemed like an eternity!

Deer have an interdigital gland in their hooves that seems to leave an odor, which other deer pick up on. Is this some type of “alarm” odor?

That I can’t answer, and I’m not sure that any biologist has successfully answered it either.

The fact remains, though, that there is an oily odor being emitted, and everything a deer does has a reason behind it.

This gland may act as yet another survival mechanism, protecting the herd as a whole. Either way, the physical act of stomping is done as an alarm.

Do all deer blow when alarmed?

Absolutely not. In fact, it seems that mature bucks prefer to slip out undetected when possible.

Blowing loudly and running off makes a lot of noise and draws attention. Mature bucks don’t like attention.

If you’re ever fortunate enough to have a mature buck coming your way, only to pick up your wind at 30 yards or so, you probably won’t hear him blow.

He’ll oftentimes simply stop, lift his nose, stand around for a few seconds figuring out that something isn’t right before turning and silently walking back in the direction he came.

Have you recently had a deer blow at you?

If you spend much time in the woods, having a deer blow nearby is a given. It’s going to happen.

I’m assuming that if you’re here, it’s happened to you recently. I’d love to hear the story below, and if you’re new to deer hunting and need some help, check out How To Deer Hunt For Beginners!

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