Deer Population by State: How Many Deer Are in the U.S.?

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: October 14, 2023
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Key Points:
  • Texas has the highest deer population with 5.5 million!
  • Rhode Island only has 18,000 deer and Delaware’s count comes in at 45,000.
  • There are an estimated 36 million deer in the United States.

How many deer live in the United States? They seem to be everywhere, but how populous are they? Let’s find out.

The above map shows the deer population in the U.S. by state.

Classic Forest Creature

Deer are popular among hunters and wildlife watchers. They are classic forest creatures who feature in wilderness stories and artwork. Deer live in almost every country of the world.

Where do deer live?

Deer prefer forested areas where they can find vegetation to eat. However, they have adapted well to many environments. They live in every state of the country, and their numbers are stable.

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What do deer eat?

They are mostly herbivores who eat browse, which is a collective term for all types of roots, twigs, bark, grass, leaves, and other vegetation. As any gardener knows, deer also eat fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Deer enjoy eating mushrooms, nuts, berries, pumpkins, spinach, and apples. When resources are scarce, they will eat insects and small animals.

Largest deer - mule deer

Mule deer are one of the main deer species found in the United States.

©iStock.com/EEI_Tony

What Is Their Population in the United States?

There are an estimated 35 to 36 million deer in the U.S.

Once hunted almost to extinction, they have made a successful recovery. In some states, deer are so plentiful that regular hunting is needed to keep a balanced ecosystem. Deer are a favorite big game animal. Most states have yearly hunting seasons that help keep deer populations in check.

Deer are plentiful, and people who enjoy watching wildlife will find many opportunities to see them roaming free in forests and parks all over the country.

For these numbers, we have included all deer species. That includes white-tail deer, mule deer, black-tail deer, and a handful of rare deer species.

Alabama: 1.75 million

Alabama’s deer are all white-tails.

Alaska: 340,000

All of Alaska’s deer are black-tail deer.

Arkansas: 1.1 Million

White-tail deer are the official animal of Arkansas

white tailed deer

White-tail deer are common in most states.

©Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock.com

Arizona: 160,000

Arizona has white-tails and mule deer.

California: 460,000

These are black-tail and mule deer.

Colorado: 427,500

These numbers are for mule deer and white-tail deer

Connecticut: 101,000

The state has white-tail deer only.

Delaware: 45,000

Delaware only has white-tail deer.

Key deer with baby

Key deer can only be found in the Florida Keys.

©Arend Trent/Shutterstock.com

Florida: 550,000 to 700,000

Florida has a healthy deer population that includes a large number of white-tails and fewer than 1,000 rare Key deer.

Georgia: 1.27 million

Georgia only has white-tail deer.

White-tailed deer are one of the dominant species of deer in the U.S.

©Amy Lutz/Shutterstock.com

Hawaii: 112,000

Hawaii has about 1,000 black-tail deer and 110,000 Axis deer. Both species were introduced to Hawaii, but they have not damaged Hawaii’s native ecosystems.

Idaho: 750,000

Idaho has about 520,000 white-tails, and the rest are mule deer.

Illinois: 660,000

Illinois only has white-tails.

Indiana: 680,000

Indiana only has white-tail deer.

Iowa: 445,000

Iowa’s deer are all white-tails.

Kansas: 700,000

Kansas has about 50,000 mule deer, and the rest are white-tails.

Kentucky: 1 million

All of these are white-tail deer.

Louisiana: 500,000

Louisiana only has white-tail deer.

Maine: 290,000 to 300,000

Maine only has white-tail deer.

Sika deer

Sika deer are native to Japan but have been introduced to the wild in Maryland with no problem to the ecosystem.

©Martin Mecnarowski/Shutterstock.com

Maryland: 217,000

Maryland’s deer population includes 207,000 white-tail deer and about 10,000 Sika deer. Sika deer are native to Japan, but a small herd of them was introduced to the wild from a private farm. They have adapted well and currently coexist peacefully with the state’s native ecosystems.

Massachusetts: 95,000

They are all white-tail deer.

Michigan: 2 million

Michigan’s many deer are all white-tails.

Minnesota: 1 million

Minnesota only has white-tail deer.

Mississippi: 1.75 million

Mississippi’s many deer are white-tails.

Missouri: 1.4 million

Only white-tail deer live here.

Montana: 507,000

Montana has about 300,000 mule deer and about 213,000 white-tail deer. The two species live in different parts of the state.

A white-tailed deer doe and its two fawns in an open meadow in summer.

White-tailed deer can be found in many of the United States.

©Tony Campbell/Shutterstock.com

Nebraska: 430,000

Nebraska’s deer population includes 300,000 white-tail deer and 130,000 mule deer.

Nevada: 85,000 to 90,000

Nevada only has mule deer.

New Hampshire: 100,000

They are all white-tail deer.

New Jersey: 125,000

New Jersey’s deer are all white-tails.

New Mexico: 90,000 to 115,000

New Mexico is home to mule deer, Coue deer, and Texas white-tails.

New York: 1.2 million

They are all white-tail deer.

North Carolina: 1 million

There are only white-tail deer in North Carolina.

North Dakota: 150,000

The state is home to 20,000 mule deer and 130,000 white-tail deer.

Ohio: 700,000 to 750,000

Ohio only has white-tail deer.

Oklahoma: 750,000

Oklahoma has about 2,00 to 3,000 mule deer, and the rest are white-tail deer. As in other states, deer tend to live in different regions.

Oregon: 400,000 to 420,000

Oregon has two species of white-tail deer. It also has about 320,000 black-tail deer, and the rest are mule deer.

Pennsylvania: 1.5 million

All of Pennsylvania’s deer are white-tails.

Graceful Black-Tailed Deer On The Trail

North Dakota is home to 20,000 mule deer and 130,000 white-tail deer.

©iStock.com/Elizabeth Lara

Rhode Island: 18,000

Rhode Island only has white-tail deer.

South Carolina: 730,000

South Carolina’s deer are all white-tails.

South Dakota: 500,000

South Dakota has more than 80,000 mule deer and 420,000 white-tail deer.

Tennessee: 900,000

Tennessee’s deer are all white-tails.

Texas: 5.5 million

Texas is home to around 225,000 mule deer and millions of white-tail deer.

Utah: 315,000

Only about 1,000 of these deer are white-tail deer. The rest are mule deer.

Vermont: 133,000

They’re all white-tails deer.

Virginia: 1 million

Virginia has a healthy population of white-tail deer.

White-tailed deer buck in snow

White-tail bucks are prised for their rack of antlers.

©iStock.com/Lynn_Bystrom

Washington: 305,000

Washington has the most variety of deer. It has around 100,000 white-tail deer, 100,000 mule deer, 100,000 black-tail deer, and more than 5,000 Columbian white-tail deer. The Columbian white-tail is a rare species named after the Columbia River. These deer live on a series of islands along the river.

West Virginia: 550,000

They are all white-tail deer.

Wisconsin: 1.6 million

Wisconsin only has white-tail deer.

Wyoming: 400,000

Wyoming is home to 70,000 white-tail deer and about 330,000 mule deer. Hunting for mule deer is more popular in Wyoming than hunting for white-tail deer.

Bonus: Why Do Deer Sleep in My Yard?

deer

Deer will make a home base in your yard if the food is plentiful and it is safe.

©Ginger Livingston Sanders/Shutterstock.com

As animals are forced out of their habitats by human development, you may have noticed that deer sightings are becoming more frequent. If you live in an area with some wooded areas in between houses you may be surprised to learn that deer don’t roam very far and can be content to live in 100 yards of area if it is safe from predators and has plenty of food and water. Often, a residential area fits the bill just perfectly.

Deer tend to sleep during the day – so you may be surprised to look out your window to find a deer (or several) resting under a thicket of shrubs in your own backyard. Creatures of habit like deer may decide to call your home theirs and remain for the rest of their life! If you have a garden they will help themselves to it – as well as any flowers and shrubs you may have planted. If there are multiple deer they could destroy all of it and become unwanted pests.

If you have plenty of space and choose to coexist with these lovely animals that is fine – but be aware that deer carry ticks that transmit Lyme Disease. This confusing disease remains with infected people for life and causes a range of symptoms that make it difficult to diagnose. Lyme Disease causes aching muscles, joint pains, constant fatigue, fever, and headaches. Because of exploding deer populations and more deer encroaching on urban spaces – as many as one million people per year are diagnosed.

There are ways to deter deer from taking residence in your yard – and if you have children or dogs it would be a good idea to keep them out. You can grow plants they don’t like or use commercial deer repellant. If your yard is wooded and you don’t use it much you could just relax and enjoy providing them a safe haven.

StatePopulation
1Alabama1.75 million
2Alaska340,000
3Arkansas1.1 Million
4Arizona160,000
5California460,000
6Colorado427,500
7Connecticut101,000
8Delaware45,000
9Florida550,000 to 700,000
10Georgia1.27 million
11Hawaii112,000
12Idaho750,000
13Illinois660,000
14Indiana680,000
15Iowa445,000
16Kansas700,000
17Kentucky1 million
18Louisiana500,000
19Maine290,000 to 300,000
20Maryland217,000
21Massachusetts95,000
22Michigan2 million
23Minnesota1 million
24Mississippi1.75 million
25Missouri1.4 million
26Montana507,000
27Nebraska430,000
28Nevada85,000 to 90,000
29New Hampshire100,000
30New Jersey125,000
31New Mexico90,000 to 115,000
32New York1.2 million
33North Carolina1 million
34North Dakota150,000
35Ohio700,000 to 750,000
36Oklahoma750,000
37Oregon400,000 to 420,000
38Pennsylvannia1.5 million
39Rhode Island18,000
40South Carolina730,000
41South Dakota500,000
42Tennessee900,000
43Texas5.5 million
44Utah315,000
45Vermont133,000
46Viginia1 million
47Washington305,000
48West Virginia550,000
49Wisconsin1.6 million
50Wyoming400,000

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Karel Bock


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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which states have the most deer?

  • Kentucky: 1 million
  • Michigan: 2 million
  • Mississippi: 1.75 million
  • New York: 1.2 million
  • Pennsylvania: 1.5 million
  • Texas: 5.5 million
  • Wisconsin: 1.6 million

Why do so many states allow deer hunting?

While deer are prey for some large carnivores, there are not enough of these predators to keep deer numbers in check. Deer hunting plays an important role in keeping ecosystems balanced. If the deer population gets too large, it can damage forest growth and destroy native vegetation. Regular hunting ensures that a state will only have the number of deer its ecosystems can support.

Where can you see deer?

It is easy to see deer in most U.S. state parks, reserves, and even suburban yards. Deer adapt to changing environments, and that adaptability has helped them make a strong comeback.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
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