From Scientific American: Researchers have found that when grazing or resting, cattle and deer tend to point their bodies toward Earth's magnetic poles, which suggests they are able to sense magnetic fields… researchers studied body alignment in 2,974 red and roe deer in the Czech Republic, either by photographing the animals or checking the impressions they left in snow. The team reports in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA that the animals tended to point north or south but not in other directions. When the researchers were able to examine the position of the head in the case of red and roe deer, they found the animals tended to point north.
The group ruled out…wind or sun for why grazing animals might orient themselves that way. There was no consistent wind pattern among the different locations… Evidence for a magnetic sense in cattle and deer suggests…it may be a more basic tool for mentally mapping their everyday surroundings and learning new landmarks.
It is not a leap that this ability to sense magnetic fields is present in our whitetails also. So when we see does and bucks with their heads pointed north, what does it mean? Can we use that to hunting advantage? I rack my brain to see how. Theories anyone?
Anyhow, it will make for fun field research this fall. When you see a large group of deer feeding in a field, pull out your compass and check to see if 80 percent or more of them are pointed due north.