Do Deer Mate for Life? (No – Here’s Why)

Deer do not mate for life. They mate with multiple partners in the single breeding season to enhance their chances of passing on their lineage.

Male deerand female deer from different herds get together only during the breeding season. Post that period, they go their different ways.

Do Deer Mate for Life

Why Don’t Deer Mate for Life?

Deer won’t mate for life because male deer do not see evolutionary benefit from staying with their partner and offspring. For bucks, the evolutionary benefit is in mating with as many females as possible.

Generally, species that mate for life have a much stronger social structure (such as humans) where it is believed by the males to be beneficial to stay with their mates. Other types of animals that mate for life, such as some birds, will do so due to environmental and social factors. Birds, for example, are often considered to be very vulnerable creatures who need to stay in pairs for protection of themselves and their offspring.

Read Also: Where do Deer Live?

Do Deer Mate with Multiple Partners Each Year?

Deer only mate during the breeding period right after fall and during that time, both the male and female deer mate with multiple partners to make sure that their purpose of procuring an offspring is served.

So it can be said that deer are polygamous creatures.

Female deer can reproduce only once every year. The number of offspring they can produce depends a lot on the deer species, but on average they can give birth to 2 to 3 fawns, and deer are often known to give birth to twins.

Howeverdeer are not monogamous. In other words, they have multiple partners over the course of their life.

Do Deer Stay Together as a Family?

Deer are known to stay together with their mates for a few days after mating, but not long. Furthermore, after mating season (i.e December onwards), the males go their separate ways.

The mother deer stays with her female herd and after giving birth in the spring raises her fawns for over a year.

When the next mating session comes, the male offspring are deterred out of the herd to prevent them from mating with their mother and siblings.

So in a sense, the mother deer stays together with her offspring as a family for at least a year after their birth. However, the father deer do not remain with the mother deer and hence play no role in assisting the family in any way.

Female deer are known to participate in polyandry, where they mate withmultiple male counterparts to make sure that they indeed get pregnant in the breeding season. So, in that regard, no such strong notion of a family exists within the deer community.

However, they do have a herd mentality where deer of similar age and gender form small groups and graze around together out in the wild.

Related Article: Why do Baby Deer Have Spots?

Do Baby Deer Stay with their Mother?

Baby deer remain under the tender care and guidance of their mother for at least one whole year, especially in the case of whitetail deer, but the time can vary from species to species.

Right after giving birth, the mother deer generally keeps herself away from her offspring during the daytime to avoid inviting danger onto her fawns.

So, in case you find a fawn on its own, if the deer doesn’t look to be hurt it’s best for their own benefit to not intervene in any manner.

This is because fawns do not have any scent on their own and this further helps them to better survive out in the wild as predators won’t be able to catch up to any distinct smell.

However, if you go around petting the baby deer, you can accidentally end up imparting some kind of a smell onto them.

Baby deer remain in a very vulnerable situation as they are not able to stand properly until they are about a month old. Even after that period, it takes them some more months to properly walk and run.

A baby fawn generally remains under the care of its mother for at least a year. Male deer are known to indulge in mating even with their mothers once they are all grown up.

Hence to avoid this problem, once the baby bucks are about a year old, the mother deer generally drive the bucks or male offsprings away to live on their own, however, the female offsprings can live with their mother for another year or so, after which they also part their ways with their mother.

Do Deer Mate with Siblings?

Animals do not understand that they should not mate with their siblings or other relatives to protect the offspring from malformations. However, to prevent this from happening, the majority of the animal species out there have developed some kind of a natural mechanism to prevent such incidents.

Certain animals can identify their blood, by smell or looks and actively avoid breeding with them.

To make sure that male deer don’t end up mating with their female siblings, once the male offspring becomes a year old and the mother deer drive them out of the herd they grew up in.

From this point onwards, they will live in the wild as adults, either on their own for the time being until the time they join newer herds. The female deer keep on living with their mother for another year, after which they go away on their own and either start their herd or join other herds.

Do Deer Mate with their Offspring?

After mating with female deer, bucks may stay for a few more days with the female deer, but soon after the breeding season is over, they go their own way.

They dont wait around for their babies to be born.

Hence even though deer live in herds, they do not live in families

Moreover, mother deer drive away their male offspring once they get old enough to mate to encourage them to mate with deer that are not closely related. Hence nature by its means has made sure that deer would not mate with their offspring.


Deer do not mate for life and they do not live together as a family. Deer species are known to live in herds of similar gender members for most of the year.

During the breeding period, from around October to December, the bucks diverge from their herd to avoid competition and go their separate ways to find female herds where they further compete with other bucks of different other herds to win over female deer. Once the breeding session gets completed, they again take off and go their own ways.

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