Difference Between Deer and Elk – [Deer Vs Elk Comparison]

While most of us are familiar with deer, the difference between deer and elk may rather seem like a tough task. The deer family is one of the largest and comprises of a large number of species. Elk is the largest species of deer. So, we can say that elk is a cousin of deer. Although they belong to the same family, there are some notable differences among them.

The main difference between deer and elk

There are some clear signs by while it is very easy to distinguish an elk from a deer. An elk can be easily identified by noticing their appearance. They have a light-grayish yellowish-brown “rump patch” and the color of their body is lighter compared to their legs and necks. The elks are taller in size than a typical deer. The size of the shoulders of an elk is 4.5- 5ft while the shoulder size of a deer is not more than 3-3.5 ft.

Comparison Chart of Deer Vs Elk

HabitatGrasslands, forest and desertsMountainous forests
Body Size3.5 feet5 feet
AntlersShorter than 4 feet4 feet
AppearanceGrey coatShaggy brown coat
Speed30 miles per hour45 miles per hour
DietHigh growing plantsGrass
SoundHigh pitchedVery loud
TracksPointedLarger and rounded

Key Differences:

Elks are found in North and East America and the deer are found all over the world. The deer are typically found in forests or along with the edge habitats while the elks are found in the woodlands or in the meadows. While hunting a deer you don’t seem to face a lot of obstacles but when it comes to elks, you have to hike your way up to some of the roughest terrains. While you are out there hunting, make sure that you have the proper gears and supplies.

The deer ranges over a small area and can be easily located. On the other hand, the elk range over a vast area, making it difficult to spot them in the wilderness. The deer may range over a couple of miles while the elk range over more than 500 miles. Either you’re looking for deer or elk it is very much necessary to carry the right kind of gear and wear the proper kind of outfit as the way of approaching them is different.

Difference Between Deer and Elk - [Deer Vs Elk Comparison]

The scientific name of elk is Cervus Canadensis and the deer is Cervidae. The lifespan of elk is slightly less than that of a deer. The deer usually lives for 15 to 25 years, where the elk lives only for 10 to 13 years.

The meat of deer and elk is very rich in protein. 30-60 pounds of boneless meat can be obtained from a deer and approximately 100-300 pounds of meat can be obtained from the elk. Elk venison comprises of dark red texture and has zero fat meat. Elk meat is healthy for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is fewer amounts of calorie in elk meat than beef. The high amount of iron and protein is also present in its meat. To most of the North American Hunters, the meat of an elk is the best.

The average weight of a deer is approximately 300 kg while the weight of an elk is 500 kg. This is why we can obtain more meat from the elk. When it comes to body size and appearance there is a significant difference between them. The elk is larger and heavier in size and has an antler that is much larger than deer. Talking about their physique, the elk have hard physique flooring, while the deer possess soft physique flooring. The hard physique of the elk helps them to overcome hurdles in the rough mountainous terrains.

Were you aware that it is possible that a herd of elk can have over a hundred elks? The deer usually are seen in groups but the number of individuals is fewer in number. The elk is generally seen traveling in large groups. The elks can run slightly faster than deer. Elk can run at a speed of 45 miles per hour whereas deer can run with speed up to 30 miles per hour.


Similarities of Deer and Elk

The deer and elk share the same taxonomical family. The digestion and reproductive system of both animals are the same. Both give birth to their off-springs during the spring season. The baby deer is known as fawns and the baby elk is known as calves.


Spotting an elk can be a confusing task when it’s your first time hunting. There are some distinct characteristics through which you can easily distinguish and get rid of confusion. The elks are seen in large heard. By following the tracks and droppings, one can also locate elks. Keep in mind that the tracks made by elks are much larger and rounded than the tracks that are made by a deer. The deer is a peace-loving animal and doesn’t seem to make a lot of noise, but it makes a high-pitched sound sometimes. The elk on the other side makes loud sounds that can be heard over miles. The appearance of elk can be deceiving at times because of the color of their coats changes in winter and summer.

Differences between Elk and Deer

Wrapping Up

As the deer and elk belong to the same taxonomical family, but there are a lot of dissimilarities among them. While planning the hunt, one must know about the significant differences between the two animals.

While hunting in dense forest or the treacherous mountains carrying the right hunting gear and equipment is necessary. To locate a herd often it’s quite necessary to take excellent quality optics.

Within now maybe it is established how important it is to know about the differences between elk and deer. Hopefully, you’ll be able to differentiate between elk and deer more easily than from now onwards. You can read our other related guide like female deer antlers, 2 man ladder stand, etc.