Gerald Almy: A deer hunter’s dictionary, from F-Y

Gerald Almy

Gerald Almy

With bow and crossbow hunting in full swing, it’s time to examine the rest of the words in the “deer hunter’s dictionary” we started last week. We’ll continue this rundown of popular deer hunting terms, starting with the letter F.

Forage – food deer eat. This can be anything from acorns and soybeans to clover and greenbrier.

Forkhorn –  a buck with 2 points on each side, also called a 4-pointer; usually a yearling.

Forehead gland – glands on forehead of a buck used to deposit scent by  rubbing trees and licking branches to show his presence and status in the herd.

Forbs – low-growing weeds and plants bucks feed on in fields.

Funnels – places where the topography or thick vegetation forces a deer to travel through a narrow area; excellent stand locations.

Ground shrinkage – the conclusion reached when walking up to a buck and finding that it wasn’t as large, old or heavy-antlered as you thought it was when you pulled the trigger.

Gut – to field dress a deer or remove the entrails.

Grunt – a communication sound bucks make with their diaphragm and vocal chords; there are many different kinds of grunts that mean different things to other deer.

Hang – to age meat to make it more tender; temperatures must stay cool, preferably 45 degrees or lower, for this to be practical.

Hunter orange – same as fluorescent orange, often required by regulation for safety.

Interdigital gland – a gland located between the two center toes of a deer’s feet that leaves scent as a deer walks.

Lip curl – a buck curling his lips and sucking in scents to determine if a doe is in estrous or how close she is to being ready to breed.

Lockdown – the period when peak breeding takes place; little buck movement occurs compared to the periods just before and after when bucks are seeking out and chasing does.

Mass – the thickness or diameter of a buck’s antlers; it’s measured in four locations when scoring a rack; the older the buck, the heavier the mass.

Moon phase – the stage of the moon from new to full influences deer behavior, but hunters and scientists disagree on exactly how.

Nocturnal – moving at night; bucks normally move very early and late in daylight, but older bucks can become almost totally nocturnal when faced with heavy hunting pressure.

Pineal gland – a gland in the brain that determines when bucks grow their antlers and when they shed or drop them, based on the photo period or amount of light in the day.

Post rut – period of one to two weeks after peak mating when bucks are still searching for receptive does, but most females have already bred and are not interested.

Protein – one of the most important components of forage; deer need 16 percent protein overall in their diet to thrive and reach maximum physical growth and antler potential.

Q.D.M. (Quality Deer Management) – a principle of managing deer that calls for harvesting more does to achieve a more balanced, natural sex ratio, as close to 1:1 as possible, while allowing bucks to grow several years before harvesting them so they can reach more of their full potential in antlers and body size.

Rattle – to bang, rub and grind a pair of deer antlers together to imitate the sounds of two battling bucks and draw in other bucks.

Rub – a place on a small tree or sapling where a buck has rubbed its antlers and removed the bark; rubs can have many different meanings to other deer.

Rut – the breeding period for deer. It includes four phases: 1) the early pre-rut, 2) the seek and chase phase, 3) peak breeding and 4) the post-rut; it can last 4-6 weeks.

Scrapes – oval places where a buck has pawed away leaves, grass, urinated and left his scent on an overhanging branch to attract does and let other bucks know of his presence.

Scouting – searching the woods and fields for sign deer leave to try to unravel their movement patterns and plan a good location to place a stand.

Secondary rut – a period about 28 days after the main rut when young does that have not been bred come into heat and bucks become especially active seeking them out.

Sign – beds, hoof prints, droppings, rubs, nibbled browse, scrapes and other indicators that a deer was present.

Slick-head – an antlerless deer.

Snort – an alarm sound made by deer through the nose when they’re suspicious of danger and about to flee.

Snort-wheeze – an aggressive challenge call made by bucks during the rut, often the lead-up to a fight; typically it starts with a grunt followed by several short snorts, and then a long, loud wheezing exhale through the nostrils.

Spike – a deer with one antler point on each side, also called a 2-pointer, usually a yearling.

Stand – location where a hunter sits or stands and waits for deer to walk into bow or gun range

Still hunting – a tactic that involves slowly walking through deer habitat and pausing often, trying to spot the quarry and make a shot or sneak closer into range for the shot.

Tarsal glands – a 3-4 inch patch on the inside legs of deer’s legs that releases secretions, particularly as the rut approaches; often urinated on by bucks to increase the scent they give off.

Testosterone – hormone in male deer that rises as the rut approaches, causing antlers to harden and boosting energy and aggressiveness for breeding.

Tines – points that branch off the main antler beam on a buck.

Tracking – a hunting method that involves following the hoof prints of deer, usually through snow or across wet or muddy ground.

Travel corridor – a general route deer follow moving from feeding to bedding areas and back.

Velvet – a covering of collagen fibers on a deer’s antlers during their growing stage that looks like velvet; it’ stripped off in late summer as antlers harden in response to rising testosterone levels.

Venison – the meat from a deer; high in protein, low in fat, and delicious.

Yearling – a deer, usually a buck, that is about 1-1/2 years old. More and more hunters are choosing to pass up these deer.

View: A deer hunters dictionary, A-F at

Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.


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