How To Tame A Wild Deer: The Training & Taming Techniques

Taming a wild deer is not for the faint of heart. Wild deer can be tamed but it is usually not an easy process. Age plays a crucial role in taming wild animals like deer. Fawns and younger wild deers are easily tamed, unlike adult deers who have dwelled in the wild from their birth.

Aside from the technicality you need to be familiar with; the legal and structural requirements of taming wild deer do not come cheap. you will spend your money and time to ensure a wild deer is successfully tamed and trained to your desire.

This article will expose you to all the required training and taming techniques on taming wild deer; the choice of deer breed to tame, possible expectations, commands, legal and structural requirements, as well as the basic care of the deer now in captivity. Read up!

tamed deer

Understand Why You Want to Tame a Deer

Before attempting to tame a wild deer, carefully consider your motivations and whether this is the right decision. While deer can potentially be tamed, they remain wild animals, and attempting to domesticate them has significant ethical concerns, risks, and legal restrictions.

Some key considerations around taming deer include:

– Purposes: Some people wish to tame deer as pets or for education programs. However, deer have complex needs and may not adapt well to living with humans long-term. Having realistic expectations is important.

– Laws: It is illegal in most states to capture and keep wild deer. Even if permitted, you must get licenses and permits, which can be difficult to obtain. There are often bans on keeping native wildlife as pets. 

– Risks: Deer can be skittish and unpredictable. Large deer species like elk can be aggressive and dangerous. Deer can damage property and cause injuries. Zoonotic diseases are also a concern.

– Ethics: Removing deer from the wild interferes with wild populations and natural behaviors. Deer are not domesticated like dogs or horses. No matter how tame they seem, they are still wild animals unsuited for life with humans.

– Commitment: Properly caring for a tame deer requires specialized facilities, veterinary care, and lifelong dedication. Are you prepared to provide for all of the deer’s complex needs?

– Alternatives: Those wishing to connect with deer may find greater fulfillment through wildlife photography, volunteering at wildlife rehabilitation centers, or supporting conservation efforts.

If considering taming a deer, extensively research the species, housing needs, costs, legal issues, and training involved first. Be sure you can fully commit to the deer’s well-being rather than just seeing it as a novelty pet. Taming wild deer should not be taken lightly.

Choose an Appropriate Deer Breed

When choosing a deer to tame, selecting an appropriate breed that can adapt well to domestication is important. The white-tailed deer is one of the most commonly tamed wild deer species. They are abundant across most of the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico.

The white-tailed deer

White-tailed deer have a gentle nature that lends itself well to taming if done properly. The ideal age to begin taming a white-tailed deer is when they are still fawns. Fawns that are orphaned or rejected by their mothers can more easily imprint on humans and accept domestication from an early age.

It is best to obtain a 4-6 weeks old fawn so it is past the most delicate phase but still young enough to bond with you. Fawns obtained at this age can be bottle-fed formula and will begin associating you with food and security.

Capture and Acclimate the Deer

Capturing and acclimating a wild deer takes patience and care. The goal is to transition the deer from the wild into a domestic environment in a low-stress manner. 

When it comes to trapping, humane methods are essential. Leg-hold traps, snares, and stunning should always be avoided, as they inflict pain and trauma on the deer. A better approach is to use a large drop net, suspended above an area the deer frequents.

When the deer passes underneath, the net is released. Though startling, this captures the deer unharmed. Or, bait a corral trap and train the deer to enter for food rewards over time. Once inside, quickly and calmly shut the gate.

Proper handling minimizes stress. Cover the deer’s eyes to provide a sense of security and limit visual stimuli. Move slowly, speaking in a soothing tone. Avoid excess noise or jostling. Support the deer’s body weight when lifting or carrying. Process and inspect the deer quickly upon initial capture, then allow it to calm down in a closed enclosure before interacting again.

Introduce the deer’s new habitat in phases. Keep initial handling to a minimum and interact only when necessary, like for feeding. Gradually increase contact over two to four weeks as the deer acclimates. Respect its signals – if it seems nervous or agitated, back off and try again later. With time and patience, the deer will learn to trust its new caregivers.

Build Trust Through Positive Reinforcement

Building trust with a wild deer requires dedication, patience, and proper use of positive reinforcement training. Instead of traditional dominance or punishment-based training, focus on rewarding and reinforcing desired behaviors.

This allows the deer to overcome its natural wariness, learn to trust you and participate willingly in the training process. A few key ways to build trust through positive reinforcement include:

hand feeding a wild deer
hand feeding a wild deer

– Hand feeding: Hand feeding is a powerful trust-building technique. Start by offering treats in an open palm from outside the enclosure, then work up to feeding inside the pen and eventually being able to approach the deer directly. Favorite treats like apple slices or deer pellets help create a positive association with you. Always work at the deer’s pace and comfort level.

– Scheduled feedings: Establish a consistent feeding schedule so the deer learns to rely on you to provide its regular meals. This dependency helps motivate the deer to interact with you. Make sure main meals like deer chow are only provided during designated feeding times to reinforce the schedule.

– Reward-based training: Use rewards to mark and reinforce desired behaviors. For example, when the deer allows you to touch it without fear, immediately reward it with a treat. Over time the deer learns good things happen when you interact. Start with simple behaviors like tolerating handling. Work up to more complex tasks once trust is established.

Building a bond based on trust and mutual respect takes time. However, utilizing positive reinforcement gives the best chance to tame a once-wild deer into a willing human companion.

Provide Proper Nutrition

A proper diet is essential for a tame deer’s health and well-being. Deer are ruminant animals, meaning their digestive system is designed to break down grasses, leafy greens, buds, twigs, and other fibrous plant matter.

Ideally, a tame deer’s diet should consist mainly of:

– High-quality grass hay: This should make up 60-70% of daily intake. Look for hay that is green, leafy, and free of mold or dust. Orchard grass, timothy, and alfalfa are good choices.

– Fresh greens: Leafy greens like kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, carrots tops, and fresh pasture grasses should comprise about 20-30% of the diet. Introduce new greens slowly.

– Browse: Offer a small amount of woody, twiggy browse daily. This provides mental enrichment and assists in wearing down teeth. Maple, willow, aspen, and poplar branches are good options. Limit to 10% of diet.

– Grains: A small amount of deer-specific grain blend, oats, barley or corn can supplement the diet, especially for nursing does. Limit to 1/4 – 1/2 pound per day.

– Freshwater: Clean, fresh water must be available at all times. Change water daily or more often as needed. Use heavy containers that can’t be tipped over.

Monitor the deer’s body condition and consult a wildlife veterinarian to adjust the diet as needed. Avoid overfeeding treats, breads, or other human foods. While tame deer can be handled differently than wild deer, sticking close to their natural nutritional needs is best for their health.

Train Basic Commands 

Teaching a tame deer basic obedience command requires time, patience, and positive reinforcement. Here are some tips for training common commands:

#1. Come

Start by rewarding your deer every time it comes to you voluntarily. Say “come” excitedly when it approaches, then give it a treat. When the deer reliably comes for a treat, start saying “come” before it approaches you. Reward it after it comes to you.

Practice this in enclosed areas at first, then gradually train outdoors with more distractions. Always reward with treats when it comes. If your deer doesn’t come immediately, don’t repeat the command. Wait until it does come, then reward.

#2. Stay

With your deer sitting, say “stay”, take a step back, then return and reward. Gradually increase the distance you step away. If it starts to stand, say “ah ah” and reset to try again. Reward only once you return and it stays. Practice until it will stay for at least 30 seconds as you walk around it.

#3. Lay Down

Say “lay down” and gently guide the deer into a down position, rewarding immediately. Repeat this process, fading your hand guidance over time. When it starts to lay down on just the voice command, reward heavily.

Practice until your deer will lay down immediately when you give the command. With regular, short, positive training sessions, your tame deer can learn these and other commands. Always end on a good note to keep training experiences positive. Consistency is key!

Provide Ongoing Veterinary Care

If you plan to keep a tamed deer as a pet, it’s essential to provide proper veterinary care to keep the animal healthy. Regular vet checkups allow the doctor to monitor the deer’s condition and watch for any developing issues.

Schedule annual exams to check the deer’s overall health. The vet will listen to the heart and lungs, take the temperature, examine the eyes and mouth, and assess the coat, hooves, and body condition. Bloodwork helps check for parasites, infections, or nutritional deficiencies. 

Stay current on all recommended vaccines to protect against diseases like rabies, clostridia, leptospirosis, and more based on your region. Deer also needs periodic deworming and treatment to prevent ticks, fleas, and other external parasites.

Monitor the deer at home between vet visits. Watch for any changes in behavior, appetite, bowel movements, or activity level that could indicate a health problem. Check the hooves regularly for cracked pads, overgrowth, or embedded debris. Brush the coat frequently to condition the skin and inspect for cuts, bites, or abnormal lumps.  

Providing attentive daily care and regular veterinary checkups helps ensure a pet deer stays happy and healthy for years to come. Don’t skip out on medical care – it’s a critical part of responsible deer ownership.

Get the Proper Licenses and Permits

Keeping deer as pets or livestock requires proper licensing and permitting, which varies by state. It’s crucial to research and comply with all state laws before acquiring a deer.

Most states prohibit keeping wild deer and require permits to keep farm-raised deer. Even if allowed, deer owners usually need licenses for wildlife rehabilitation, exhibitors, pet breeders, or alternative livestock. Specific regulations determine which licenses are mandatory.

Research your state’s Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Agency, and Department of Natural Resources. Determine if your city or county has additional ordinances. Be aware that permits often restrict deer possession to certain approved purposes like education, wildlife rehab, or breeding for meat/antler production.

Pet or companion deer are largely illegal. Few states entertain exotic pet applications for tame deer. You may be required to install tall fencing, tag each animal, and allow inspections. There could be restrictions on deer transport and mandatory disease testing too.

Work closely with authorities to secure proper licensing. Depending on the jurisdiction, you may need USDA licensing to exhibit deer or sell products derived from them. Improper licensing can lead to penalties, revoked permits, deer confiscation, or even criminal charges for wildlife violations. Ensure full compliance before obtaining a deer.

Final Words

We have covered all requirements and care during the process of taming deer. A tamed deer is suitable for exhibitions; it is not frightened in the sight of humans, rather it communicates well with given instructions. Ensure you get proper licenses and visit the vet regularly for check ups.

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