Elk Vs Deer

Elk White-tailed Deer
Size
Can exceed 800 lbs Rarely exceed 250 lbs
Adult elk stand 4-5 feet at the shoulders. Adult white-tailed deer stand 3-3.5 feet at the shoulders.
A 5-6-month-old elk calf is about the same size as an adult doe.
Coloring
Elk have black legs and necks, and tan rump patches. White-tailed deer have white throat patches, legs the same color as their bodies and no rump patches.
Tails
Elk have short tails the same color as their tan rump patches. White-tailed deer have long tails with a white underside.
Antlers
Only bull elk have antlers and they sweep back toward the body. Only buck white-tailed deer have antlers and they curve forward toward the head.
Calves and Fawns
Elk usually give birth to a single calf, which can weigh about 45 pounds. White-tailed deer often give birth to two fawns, which typically weigh 7-8 pounds.
Both elk calves and whitetail fawns are spotted for the first few months and are born in May and June.
Location/Range
Found in parts of 3 counties Found statewide
Move longer distances (> 10 miles) More short distances (< 2 miles)
Population/Groups
Population goal of 400-500 Over 1 million in Missouri
Large social groups Small social groups
Lifespan
Lifespan may exceed 12-15 years, especially females Lifespan typically not greater than 8-10 years
male and female elk and deer

In This Section

Elk or Deer? (pdf, 189 KB)

ID card that illustrates the differences between an elk and a white-tailed deer. 

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