This research study is an analysis of the gait patterns of white tailed deer. There is significant existing literature on the running gaits, especially the escape gait, of white tailed deer, but there is little known about the pattern of its walking gait. This investigation aims to identify pattern of leg motion in walking gait and to compare that pattern as well as physiological and environmental advantages of it to the running gate.
The main questions at hand are how and why the deer's walking gait differs from its running gait. It is predicted that the deer will attempt to conserve energy while walking compared to running, so there will be lesser vertical displacement during walking gait. Based on the gait patterns of medium sized animals that experience little vertical displacement while moving, it is hypothesized that the walking gait will consist of simultaneous motion of a front leg and a back leg on the same side which then repeats on the other side.
High speed videos captured the deer were walking and running. Each of the hooves were tracked using DLTdv8a, a MATLAB program. This allowed confirmation of known escape gait patterns and detection of walking gait patterns.
The highest point on each deer's back was also tracked using the same program in order to identify the difference in maximum vertical displacement while walking and running.
The deer experience a much greater level of vertical motion while running than they do while walking. This is consistent with the energy conservation prediction.
The consistently identified walking pattern was movement of the front right and back left legs together then the front left and back right legs together. This differs from the hypothesis, but allows the deer greater stability than the hypothesized gait would have.
The identified running pattern is consistent with literature in that the deer move one front leg, the other front leg, then both hind legs. Additionally, every observed deer preferred to move the right front leg first.