How Long Do Deer Live?

While walking down the woods with your hunting equipment in your hands, you saw a deer running away, and you couldn’t help yourself asking how long do deer live.

Regardless of your answer, we’ll explain the life span of deer, what factors affect them, and answer that question for male deer, female deer, white-tail, and mule deer.

Table of Contents

How long do male deer live?

On average deer have a lifespan of around 5 years. Male deers tend to have a shorter lifespan than female deers by about 2 years on average. This is because male deer need to consume more calories than females. Also, due to the hunting and behaviour differences between them.

How long do female deer live?

After looking at various resources, it has been found that female deers live for an average of about two years more than male deers. This puts their average lifespan up to 6 years.

How long do female deer live?

How long do White-Tail Deer Live?

White-tailed deer live for a really short time. The average age of a white-tailed deer is only 4.5 years. The oldest reported wild white-tailed deer is recorded to be 19 years old.

The oldest wild black-tailed deer that has been recorded is 22 years old. You can read more about it here.

How Long Do Mule Deer Live?

On average, wild mule deer have a life expectancy of  9 to 11 years. This data is backed up by the natural wildlife federation.

The highest age of a wild mule deer is recorded to be 20 years.

Deers in the wild tend to have a shorter life span than those in captivity.

This is due to what happens in a deer’s life, which determines the deer’s lifespan.

Factors That Affect Deer Mortality and Lifespan

The main factors that determine a deer’s lifespan are:

Regional Habitat

In comparison to the deer in the wild, those in captivity generally have a longer lifespan. This is because, in captivity, deer are away from their predators while constantly being cared for.

On the other hand, wild deer have to face certain adversaries. Wild deer have to face famine if they live in northern cold areas and draught when they are from western desert areas.

Wild deer also have the constant threat of predators and adverse terrain.

Deer is also considered a game. This means that hunters are on a constant lookout for deer that have large antlers.

All these factors affect the average lifespan of deer in the wild.

female deer live

Hunting pressure

The low lifespan of white-tailed deer is mainly due to the pressure of hunting. White-tailed deer’s fur sells for a high price in the leather market.

So hunters are in constant search for them.

Deer meat is also considered a delicacy and is sold as premium meat called venison. A single stack of venison could cost over a hundred US dollars at a five-star restaurant.

Read More: How to Approach a Deer Without it Running Away

Extreme Weather and Climate

Most deer living in the wild have to face harsh changes in living conditions all year round.

Deers do not live in regions where there are severe weather conditions on a frequent basis. But they can survive in such conditions temporarily.

In brutal snowfall, water is scarce, and food is hard to find. Deer have to sustain themselves on acorns and bark from pine trees. They are able to survive, but long-term exposure to such conditions will affect their lifespan significantly.

In areas with high temperatures, drought and famine are very common. Deers oftentimes end up dead while migrating from one water source to another.

Proximity To Roads

Every year in the United States, over a thousand deer suffer from road accidents. Most end up dying immediately.

Those who survive end up severely injured and die from internal bleeding or from predators as they become easy prey.


Deer’s lifespan is directly correlated with the population of predators in their habitat. Deer in are African continent have a lower life expectancy than those in European countries.

This is because, in European countries, deer don’t have many natural predators as the environment is not suitable for most carnivorous mammals. This decreases the vulnerability of the deer living in the wild.

Read More: How to Tame a Deer


Deers, just like humans, are susceptible to a disease outbreak.

The diseases most common in deer are:

  1. Chronic wasting disease (CWD):
    This is a disease that affects the neurological system of deer. It is transmitted from saliva and other body fluids from deer. There is no known treatment for this disease so it is difficult to control.
  2. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD):
    Biting flies transmit epizootic hemorrhagic disease, which causes extensive haemorrhaging. It has the highest mortality rate and no known treatment. The outbreak of EHD varies annually, ranging from killing a few deer to killing up to 50 per cent of an entire population.
  3. Bovine tuberculosis (BTB):
    It is a chronic and fatal disease that affects the respiratory system. It is transmitted through the exchange of respiratory fluid, usually through sneezing and coughing. This disease also has no known cure.

Final word

Leonard Lee Rue III recorded in his book – “The Deer of North America” that deers can live up to about two decades.

This is about 4 times the average lifespan of a deer living in the wild.

This is because very few deer die of natural causes. Most lose their due to extensive living conditions, predators, disease, and hunting.

A deer in captivity has a life expectancy of 15 to 18 years. This is because these deer die naturally after living a complete life before dying of old age.

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