Why Whitetail Deer Have Chin Whiskers

Have you ever stopped to ponder the mysterious presence of those long, stiff hairs adorning the chins of whitetail deer?! Well, let me tell you, there’s more to these whiskers than meets the eye!

Whitetail Doe's Chin Whiskers
Whitetail Doe’s Chin Whiskers

Imagine the chin whiskers as a sensory system, almost like a sixth sense, for these creatures. They are remarkably sensitive to touch and vibrations, serving as a warning system to keep the deer alert to their surroundings. And not only that, but they also help the deer navigate through dense vegetation and sidestep obstacles, as they can sense changes in position before the deer even comes close to touching anything!

Doe Chin Whiskers
Doe Chin Whiskers

But wait, there’s more! Those chin whiskers play an even more crucial role during feeding time. They assist the deer in determining the size, shape, and texture of their food, and they even detect changes in the position of food items before the deer’s eyes can catch sight of them. This means that the chin whiskers help the deer find food even in the dimmest of lighting conditions!

Whitetail's Chin Whiskers
Whitetail’s Chin Whiskers

In conclusion, chin whiskers are a perplexing yet integral aspect of the anatomy of whitetail deer. They help these creatures detect their surroundings, feed efficiently, and navigate their world with ease. The next time you come across a whitetail deer, take a moment to gaze upon those chin whiskers and appreciate the burst of unique adaptations that allow these magnificent creatures to thrive in their environment.

Getting to witness small moments like this make wildlife photography such a rewarding pursuit. Appreciating the unique adaptations of each creature allows me to capture their true essence on film. The unassuming yet vital chin whiskers of the whitetail doe tell just a fraction of her incredible survival story.

This Whitetail Doe was near the road and I pulled up close to her to get this photo. I had my camera and lens resting on a bean bag draped over the open window of my pickup.

Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens: Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS USM


  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date Taken: August 13, 2009
  • Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f5.6
  • Shutter speed: 1/250 sec. (as determined by the camera)
  • ISO: 800
  • Focal Length: 500 mm