Can deer get conditioned to human scent and not associate it with danger?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Biology
My question Is do you think deer can get accustomed to human scent. Like in areas with a high volume of human traffic. Also I was curious if a front leg injury to buck could stunt his antler growth. I’ve watched a buck for three years and he is now believed to be a five year old but I feel his antlers haven’t grown to full potential. He was a 90inch 8pt as a two year old and now my guess is he is about 115-120 8pt as a five year old. He still limps on that leg three years later. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I love watching your videos, I have learned a lot of new things this summer.


Deer can get conditioned to human scent.  This is commonly observed in city parks, etc., where there’s no or very limited threats from humans.  However, such conditioning requires constant exposure to humans and no events that cause deer to associate human scent with danger.  

For comparison, my employees, interns, and I work at The Proving Grounds six days a week year round.  We also hunt the property.  Deer certainly associate human scent with danger here and on most properties were I work.  It takes a lot of exposure to humans with no experiences that alert them for deer to not associate human scent with danger.

Yes – injuries can have a negative impact on antler growth for years.  In addition, some bucks never express more than 120″ of antler development.  You might consider what is the average antler size of five year old bucks in the area.

Enjoy creation,