Where to See a Key Deer

Getting to see a Key deer – the smallest subspecies of the white-tailed deer, found on only a few islands in the Florida Keys – is a highlight of a trip to the Keys for many people. The best advice for spotting a Key deer has long been to stop

into the Nature Center at the National Key Deer Refuge and ask where to look for them – the park officials always have good advice on where they may be. However, the Nature Center is currently closed. If you still want to find one of these mini deer while you are in the Florida Keys, here is some advice.

  • Make sure you’re on the right island! Most of the Key deer on are one of two islands: Big Pine Key and No Name Key.

  • Get off U.S. 1! Although you can sometimes spot a Key deer from the main road, you are more likely to see one if you get off U.S. 1 and go out looking for them in quieter places.

  • Pick the right time of day! Although you can see deer any time of day, they are most active in the early mornings and just before sunset.

  • Location, location, location! The officials at the National Key Deer Refuge suggest looking for Key deer at the Blue Hole and along the Watson Nature Trail on Big Pine Key (both are located off Key Deer Boulevard). Personally, the best places I’ve found to see them are along the side streets off Watson Boulevard – often in peoples’ yards or standing right in the middle of the road.

While there are never any guarantees when it comes to seeing the Key deer, hopefully these hints will help you find one on your next trip to the Florida Keys!

Want to learn more about Key deer and other things to see and do in the Florida Keys? Check out our book, 101 Travel Bits: The Florida Keys & Overseas Highway.

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