A Definitive Guide To Tracking Deer Prints In Snow

Tracking claw marks, cat tracks, rabbit tracks, and deer prints in snow-covered ground is not the easiest of tasks. This is because tracks in snow become distorted and can disappear rapidly as the snow starts to melt.

Most hunters and trackers bank on the most obvious details, such as the number of toes, the shape of the feet, claw marks, and other clues.

Since you may need to look for other indicators as the tracks become harder to see, we recommend learning more precise tracking tips to accurately track deer prints in snowy conditions.

A Definitive Guide To Tracking Deer Prints In Snow

This article will help equip you to look for or hunt deer during a snowy winter.

Features of Deer Prints

  • Deers walk on their hooves, which feature two separate halves. Moreover, the hooves are cloven.
  • Deer footprints are in a split-heart shape. The pointed end of these heart-shaped deer tracks is the front of the hoof.
  • Deer patterns depend on the type of deer. The region is also an important determinant. Some of the varieties include Santa Claus deer prints, reindeer deer prints, night deer prints, and landscape deer prints.
  • The deer prints of the male sex of each species are much large than that of the females and young ones of the same species.
  • Deer tracks range from 30 millimeters to 90 millimeters in length.
  • When a buck or doe runs, the hind prints are formed in the snow before the fore prints. This tends to form a zig-zag line in deer tracks.

How to Tell If Prints Belong to a Doe or Buck

Here are some parameters to help you identify the differentiating features of the prints of a buck (male deer) and a doe (female deer):

Deer Print Size

An average buck weighs 50 to 100 pounds more than the average doe. Therefore, the hind footprint of a buck is usually larger and sinks deeper into the snow than the forefoot.

As deer get bigger, the added weight of their bodies forces their hooves to splay out wider and will cause their dewclaws to be imprinted in the snow.

Print Shape and Stride

When a buck’s tracks in the snow are splayed, the forefoot impressions show heightened wear on the leading edges due to scraping. It’s also worth noting that a buck’s stride is usually longer than a doe’s.

Urine and Animal Droppings

Does squat to urinate, leaving their mark behind a line that connects to the back of the hindfoot. When a buck urinates, he shoots a hole into the snow a little ahead of that line.

On the other hand, bucks often dribble urine as they go. They’re also more likely than does to defecate on the run, leaving a trail of pellets in the snow.

The Pattern of the Trail

Does are known to loiter around, nibbling a bud or a leaf on their track, as they make their way through an area. Bucks, on the other hand, proceed directly, especially during the rut as they move from one concentration of does to another.

A steady and straight-line track can be a dead giveaway. If you see these deer prints in snow, a buck may be nearby.

Antler Marks

A buck searching for an estrous doe will stop and sniff any deer track it comes across, even burying his nose deep at times, leaving an impression with his tine marks in the snow.

Finding the Right Track for Deer Prints in Snow

You are likely to come across tracks of deer prints in high deer density areas, such as suburban woods or rural farms.

Once you’re certain that you’ve identified that any deer prints in snow truly belong to a doe or a buck, it’s time to ensure that you’re on the right track.

Before deciding to follow a set of tracks, you may want to consider the following:

Track Age

It is important to identify how old the track is. You do not want to follow a set of tracks that were formed days ago!

You need to find the freshest deer prints that are formed. Thus, determining the age of the track can save you a ton of time and effort altogether. Knowing the timing of the last snowfall in the area can be helpful too.

For example, if fresh snow fell in the morning and stopped around noon, any freshly-formed snow deer prints indicate that those tracks were made within the past few hours.

If the tracks are covered up, then you can reasonably conclude that they were made before the snowfall that morning.

Track Identity

If you’ve managed to find a lot of winter deer prints, we envy your keen eyes. At the same time, multiple tracks of deer may be misleading.

Thus, finding a single set of prints will make your job easier. More tracks will mean more sets of eyes and ears to bust you with.

Track Quality

A mature buck is usually heavier than a doe or a fawn and will thus leave a deeper, wider track. The length of the track also determines how old the deer is.

A good way to check this is by using your hand. A mature buck will have a track of about 3.5 to 4 inches in length.

You can only get better at tracking with experience! The more tracks you follow, the more you will be able to identify tracks of deer prints in snow.

‘Deer Stag’ Track

Big bucks have larger chests, and a distinct stagger is noticed in their tracks when they walk.

There will be more distance between their left and right hoof prints. They also tend to drag their weary feet to conserve energy during and after the rut season, leaving behind drag marks.

Tracking the Deer

Once you’ve found a set of fresh animal tracks worth following, the next thing to do is start tracking the deer in snow! These points will elevate your game:

  • Start following the deer trail in the direction they are heading in search of food.
  • Never walk directly on the tracks of deer, should you have to backtrack. Follow the tracks at least a foot or two off the path, if possible.
  • Next, examine how the deer is walking and you can judge how fast you can follow based on its movements. A deer walking in a straight line is usually walking with an intention and a purpose. In such a case, you can move fairly quickly.
  • If the tracks of deer begin to wander or are circling around, the deer was probably feeding on some food or looking for a place to rest. In this case, you need to slow down and have planned and calculated movements. This is because a resting buck is always on alert, and he may be nearby.
  • If the sun is shining, try to walk in the shadows formed by the trees. Move by bounding from one tree to another for cover.


Track identification of deer prints in snow and other footprints of animals can be a really fun and adventurous activity for people to try out if they have patience.

Do not rush, though, if you don’t want your target to escape. There may be times when all you can spot is the ear or antler of the deer! Don’t be discouraged, as this is a sign that you tracked the deer properly!

Once you can identify the correct set of tracks in the snow, you’re well on your way to knowing if the track is fresh and worth following. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot a deer!

If deer hunting excites you like nothing else, Feed That Game is the perfect place to be!

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