Why Do Deer Blow?

Snorting, Blowing: What Gives?

There is nothing worse than hearing a loud, lung-collapsing deer blow while deer hunting. This is especially true when bowhunting, when you need deer to close the distance because of the range limitations of archery equipment. Ironically, a loud blow by a white-tailed sucks all the air out of my sail. It can be downright unnerving, especially at close range. If you’re like me, it’s usually at this point that you’re ready to pack up your gear, climb down out of the stand and head for home, tail between your legs.

Deer really only blow for one reason, to alert other deer in the area that something is out of the ordinary. Though I’ve heard many deer do this over the years, I’ve come to realize that their actions are not always in response to me. There are numerous things in a deer’s environment that can cause it to react with that attention-grabbing, nasal-clearing sound. They can also snort when concerned. Regardless of why the deer is alarmed, we all know that the result can be an unproductive hunt.

Deer Hunting: Why do Deer Blow?

Source: Blow or snort (all deer, all seasons). The deer forcibly expels air through its nostrils like a greatly magnified sneeze. The deer blows when it detects danger at a distance. These blows are drawn-out “whooshes” repeated several times. Snorts are single, very short, explosive sounds given as the deer turns to run.

There may be three reasons for these sounds. The noise warns all deer that something is radically wrong. The “sneeze” clears the nasal passages, and helps the deer sniff the air better. The sound may startle a predator into revealing its location or leaving the area.

Like most of you reading this article, I can tell you from experience that deer will blow when they see or smell something that is not right. More often than not, it means the deer that you are hunting smell you. It’s frustrating — especially since we as hunters we are quite meticulous about scent control and hunting under favorable wind conditions. The best I can offer is to remember that it’s not always you. It’s sometimes you, but now always.

Scent control is not necessarily about being “scent-free” but about being low in human scent. White-tailed deer have one heck of a sniffer on them so they can be hard to fool, but it’s not impossible. Keeping your scent down can trick them into believing that you are further away than they think you are. It’s all about scent molecule density. Do all that you can to control scent so that the next time your deer hunting and hear a deer blow you can be as confident as possible that it’s not you, it’s them worried about something else.

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