Deer are such majestic creatures. While there are various types of deer all over the world such as elks, water deer, moose, and reindeer, these mammals are recognizable in their own habitat. Unlike antelopes that are relatively tame, most adult deer are known for their antlers, and heavy build. They’re not the biggest animals or the most dangerous in their habitat, but they have their own means of surviving in the wilderness.

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Like what is common with many animals, many people may not be aware of the right noun used to call deer. There’s actually a correct English noun used to call a male deer, female deer, young deer, and a group of deer. Read more to learn what a male, female, baby, and group of deer are called in English and how to spot one in their natural habitat. Keep in mind that there are around 60 species of deer, so their nouns may vary across countries.

What Is a Male Deer Called?

A male deer has several names: a stag, buck, bull, and hart, depending on the type of deer. Male fallow deer in Africa, muntjac deer in Asia, and roe deer in Europe are called bucks, red deer in Europe, and sika deer in Eurasia are called stags, and wapiti and reindeer in America are called bulls.

Spotting a Male Deer

All male deer, except the water deer in East Asia, have antlers. While female reindeer have antlers, all stags sport larger and more branched out antlers. Male deer assert their dominance through their antlers, so the bigger and heavier they are, the more likely that they are the leader of their group. Antlers grow in such a way that two antlers can be locked into place so that males can wrestle with each other without injuring their faces. Zoologists have noted that there is a social hierarchy in herds of deer, and those with bigger antlers rank higher in their group. Males with larger antlers are also more aggressive and dominant.

Antlers are also used for mating selection. A female deer will be more attracted to a male deer with bigger antlers because of survival and a high chance of their male offspring producing the same large antlers. Bigger antlers also mean that the stag sheds his antlers slower, so while average-sized stags lose their antlers, male deer with large antlers can protect their herd for longer. Large antlers also signify high genetic quality, as those with larger antlers are more likely to reproduce offspring successfully and resist harmful pathogens.

What Is a Female Deer Called?

A female deer may be called a doe, cow, or hind, also depending on the type of species and the size. Larger species like the red deer are called hinds, while smaller female deer are called does. The American wapiti or elk may also be called a cow. However, the most commonly used term is a doe since, relative to stags, female deer are smaller in comparison.

Spotting a Female Deer

Deer have sexual dimorphism (which means the two sexes are clearly different even without looking at their sexual organs), so it is easier to distinguish a female deer from a male deer. Does are generally smaller than stags and, except for the female reindeer, do not sprout antlers. This may be why female deer are attracted to male deer with big antlers, as the bigger it is, the more protection they have against prey.

In some cases, zoologists have found some does that aren’t reindeer sprouting antlers, but these are very small, deformed, and unable to protect herself from prey or make her capable of wrestling like male deer. However, these female does often lose their antlers by the time they have a child.

You might even encounter a pregnant doe. Female deer carry their offspring for around 10 months and are often slower given the weight they carry.


English Language and Collective Nouns

This is why some animals have strange collective nouns. A murder of crows, for example, came from the poetic language used sometime around the 14th and 15th centuries, based on texts dating back to that time. According to linguists, it’s possible that there was a reason people started using the word “murder” as a collective noun, but because it became so commonly used, the true reason was lost in time.

But the fact that teachers continue to teach their students collective nouns and grammar and vocabulary-conscious people insist on using it, a “murder” of crows still exists to this day, even if it’s grammatically acceptable to use “flock” of crows because it shares the same meaning.

Luckily, the popular term used for a group of deer is a herd, so it’s still possible to avoid calling a group of deer a parcel of deer, especially when in the presence of people who aren’t aware of its formal collective noun.

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So, the next time you go camping or hunting in the woods and you spot a deer, you know the right word to use. You can also tell if the deer is stag, a doe, or a recently matured foal. However, because the language is always changing, you don’t have to correct someone or be corrected. As long as the message is carefully established, there’s no need to be so specific about the proper terms.