What’s the Difference Deer Buck vs Elk?

A difference between an elk and deer is all elks are deer but all deer are not elk. Elk is one of the most beautiful species within the deer family. They have different ranges, habitats, diets, and physical attributes. The most noticeable is size with Elks being 2.5x bigger.




  • Size – Elks are huge in size. They weigh up to 800 pounds and are 5 feet in height and 9 feet in length. Deer bucks weighs about 300 pounds and are 3.5 feet in height and 7 feet in length. The most observable difference between the two species is their size. Elk is much heavier and larger as compared to deer. Its height is about five feet, its length is eight feet, and its weight is about seven hundred to one thousand one hundred pounds. Deers are shorter; a mature deer can grow to 3.5 feet and seven feet long. In addition, deers can rarely exceed one hundred to three hundred pounds.


  • Colour– Elks have black coloured legs and thick brown coat. They have got shaggy hair and mane to protect them from extreme cold temperature. Deer bucks are more off brown that turns greyish during winter months. Elk features a shaggy brown coat that thickens during winter. This is because both males and female elks have managed around the neck during winter to lose the body heat due to excessive cold. The shaggy coat on elk is meant to help them endure the winter cold. On the other hand, deers have a reddish coat that lasts during summer and fades in winter. During winter, they form grey coats. A deer species named whitetail has a white-coated tail to inform other deers of incoming danger by raising it.


  • Speed – Speed is an important factor used by them in order to protect themselves from predators. Elks are faster than deer bucks. Both the deer and elk have a higher speed, but the elk is somewhat faster. For example, a deer can run up to thirty miles per hour when escaping danger or predator, while elk can run up to forty-five miles per hour.


  • Range and Habitat – Elks are found in the forested region around North and East America whereas deer bucks are found all over the world starting from grasslands, dessert, savannahs, forests and in urban areas. Elks are usually present in the woodlands whereas Deer bucks are found in the forest edge habitat. Classic deers are adapted to inhabiting habitats like forests, grasslands, and deserts—Elks, on the other hand, like inhabiting mountainous forests or higher mountain ranges.
  • Antlers – elks have got tall, large and imposing branched Antler on males and it curves towards the body. Deer bucks have got branched, spiky and shorter antler which curved towards there face. Deers have spiky or shorter branches of antler called spikes. These spikers are generally shorter than antlers in elk. Although Elk boosts the usual antlers, they are long, branched, and stretch beyond the head. As a result, their antlers can reach beyond four feet.


  • Diet – Elks feeds on grasses whereas deer buck feeds on different plant-based diet such as plants, leaves, grasses, tree barks, lichens and fruits. deer like eating plants such as shoots, legumes, leaves, and it can also feed on grass. Elk, on the other hand, likes eating plants or a diet based on grass.


  • Sound –Both of them are silent creatures but Elks are noisy while mating. They also produce roaring noise. They are noisy during autumn months as well. Deer bucks are mostly silent but can make chirping sound, bleats and sequels. Silence is the greatest virtues of deer as they can silently escape from their predators. The two animals, deer, and elk make sounds, but their sounds differ and occur occasionally. For example, the deer grunts and produces a ”oooh” sound. This sound is of a high pitch that can travel beyond some miles. But most of the time, the deer stays silent and doesn’t make this sound all the time. Elk produces a loud building sound, especially the male elk, during the autumn season while mating. The building sounds like calls and can be heard from several miles away. Male elk often make these sounds in the late hour or evening and early in the morning.


  • Tracks – Elks are heavier hence their foot prints are more prominent. They leave two round halves on each hoof. Whereas deer bucks are soft footed and leaves a heart shaped mark. Both deer buck and elk have hooves but of different shapes. Therefore when they are moving, the marks they leave on the ground with their hooves are different. The base of the deer’s hooves have a heart-like in shape, and they leave a heart-shaped mark on the ground. On the other hand, the elk hooves are shaped like a tooth. The base of the elk’s hoof is divided into two or equal halves which are around each. When the elk steps on the ground, it leaves rounded tooth-shaped tracks that appear parallel in each hoof.


  • Life span – Elks usually lives for 10 to 13 years whereas a deer buck usually lives for 15 to 25 years.


There are certain similarities between them as well. Both of them belongs from the same taxonomical family. There digestion and reproductive system works in the same manner. Both of them gives birth in the spring season. Baby elk is known as calves whereas baby deer is known as fawns.


Despite being part of the same family both of them have some distinctive features that differentiates them from each other. Elks are very difficult to spot as they usually change the colour of their coat during winter. Both of them are found in herds and are peace loving creatures.



Deer Buck vs. Elk

More than ninety species make up the deer family, which is a group of grazing ruminants. This group consists of reindeer, deer, and elks. Although all elks are deers, it is not deers that are elks. Elk is a subspecies in the family of Cervidae. They are hoofed animals belonging to the deer family. These animals originate from Asia and North America, and both are herbivores. Both deer and elk are ruminants, meaning that their belly chambers are designed for rechewing food.


Males of these two species are distinguished by large antlers that last from spring to autumn or until the end of the mating season. In addition, these two species produce offspring at the start of spring, and their young ones have camouflage spots for protection from predators. Besides their morphological, reproduction and feeding similarity, deer bucks and elk differ in several other aspects.




The deer buck and elk are both herbivores; they only feed on plants. But there are slight differences when it comes to eating habits. Each animal here eats different and specific types of plants. For example, This means it is selective in terms of plants based on the class of grass.


Comparing common deer species with Elk

Deer are of different species. Compare some of these species with the elk:


Elks are bigger than whitetails. While an elk can reach five feet tall and weigh more than eight hundred pounds, whitetails can not exceed 3.5 feet tall and not exceed two hundred and fifty pounds. As per their name, whitetails have a white patch on their tails which they raise to signify danger. Only whitetail deer species have antlers but smaller in size when compared to those of bull elks. An elk gives birth to one calf that weighs about forty-five pounds or more, while whitetails give birth to twin fawns that weigh about eight pounds each.



Roe deer is a common species in Europe and the smallest of the Cervidae species. These species look alike, and you can easily mistake them. Roe deer can stand to a maximum of 2.5 feet high and 4.5 feet long compared to elk. They maximally weigh not more than one hundred pounds.




Mule deer are easy to recognize due to their big mule-like ears, which makes them distinct. They are usually found in arid areas and are of the same size as whitetail deers. It is 3.0 feet tall, 4.5 long, and two hundred and eight pounds. Mules can share the same habitats with whitetail deer but will never crossways with elk. Elk are mostly found in Mexico and the south in the western United states.


Deer Family comprises of over 90 species. It includes animals like moose, reindeer, elk and white-tailed deer.


Deer buck and elk are both herbivores and share some common features, such as antlers, but there are many differences between these two herbivores in terms of their general appearance. Elk’s body and its antler’s size are larger than that of a deer buck. Their sounds and the feeding of plants differ. Again the two species have common features of shedding their coating during different seasons of the year.