Deer Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Deer Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Animal tattoos are some of the most symbolic tattoos out there, and the deer is no exception. If you’re looking for a tattoo with a long history and multi-cultural symbolism, you might want to consider getting a deer tattoo.

The deer tattoo has had symbolic meaning since the time of the Greeks, when it was recognized as a faithful companion to the Goddess Artemis. Since then, the deer has come to symbolize many things, from protection to spiritual authority.

This article looks at the history, symbolism and meanings behind the deer tattoo.


What is the History of Deer Tattoos?

Deer images have been used as symbols since ancient times. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Celts all had deer and deer antlers as prominent symbols.

There’s no record of these groups using deer tattoos, but there is plenty of history of the deer being used to symbolize protection among other things.

Deer tattoos were reportedly also part of North American tribal cultures.

As tattoos, deer images weren’t among the most popular animal tattoos when tattooing became part of mainstream culture in the 1900s, but their representation in popular culture has given them increased popularity in recent years.

History of Deer Imagery:

In ancient Greek culture, deer were considered representatives of the Goddess Artemis, connected to the moon.

– Individuals chose to wear deer tattoos in hopes of emulating their graceful features.

In Celtic tradition deer are representatives of the Horned God Cernunnos.

Romans considered the deer an emblem of intelligence and courage.

In Christian traditions, the deer was used to represent piety and devotion.


What is the Symbolism Behind Deer Tattoos?

Different traditions use the deer to symbolize different things. Likewise, there’s a difference in symbolism between deer and stags.

In ancient cultures, the deer was a symbol of spiritual authority and regeneration.

Deer are thought to symbolize grace, feminity and gentleness.

Stags are thought to symbolize strength and protection.

Either image can symbolize intelligence, courage and beauty.

They’re also thought to symbolize a connection to the mystical realm, and a guide to the realms of magic.

Symbolism Based on Different Cultures:

For North American Tribal Cultures the deer also represented messengers to the Gods, and symbols of fertility

For Christian traditions the deer symbolized piety and devotion.

For Celtic traditions the deer could symbolize the Horned God, Cernunnos

For Ancient Roman cultures the deer symbolized the Goddess Artemis

For Buddhists the deer symbolized long life and harmony, as well as peace and happiness.

In South American cultures the deer symbolized messengers of the gods, and messages to the otherworld.


What Meanings Can Deer Tattoos Have?

Someone can choose to wear a deer tattoo for a number of reasons.

A deer tattoo can represent a protector for a person, as a spiritual representation.

It can also represent a memory of a person who served as a protector at some point in their lives.

It may also represent a person’s intention to be a protector or a spiritual guide for others.

For some individuals, the deer may represent a connection to the spiritual side of their lives. It may mean that the person wearing the tattoo is a spiritual person.

The deer may also represent a connection to a specific religious group, if it is tied to attendant imagery.

It may represent a connection to nature and mean the person is attached to natural forces.

Paired with the moon, it may represent a belief in magic, and sometimes a connection to lunar – or feminine – energies.

Some individuals may choose the deer tattoo to represent their spirit animal – a guardian and protector and guide to the realms of the spiritual and magic.


Where are Deer Tattoos Usually Placed?

Deer tattoos are versatile pieces of art, which can be worn just about anywhere.

The forearm and upper arm are common locations for deer tattoos, but they are far from the only locations people choose to place these tattoos.

Deer tattoos are also often placed on the front or back of the shoulder.

Some individuals place miniature deer tattoos on the ankle, wrist, back of the neck, or on the hand.

Deer tattoos have also been placed on the chest and ribcage. or just above the hip.

Deer tattoos are also found on the thigh and the calf.


Styles and Characteristics of Deer Tattoos:

Deer tattoos are highly versatile in design. They can be done in a number of different ways, from realistic imagery to silhouettes, and stand-alone images to part of a larger design.

– Deer head tattoos are done more often than full-body images.

– Full body images are most commonly done of a deer leaping or running, but some designs have a deer standing quietly, or laying down in a resftul pose.

– Realistic images can be done in color, or in pen-and-ink style drawings.

– Minimalist tattoos can be done as simple line drawings.

– They are also often done in more abstract designs, such as a combination of triangles or other geometric shapes.

– Abstract designs may also follow the pattern of the original Celtic-style deer images, sometimes including Celtic knotwork as part of the design.

– Watercolor style designs are also popular.

– Illustrated designs come in a number of different styles.

– Some designs are done with a deer’s head shape, with another image within the outline. The image is usually nature themed.

– When done as part of a larger design, deer tattoos are often depicted in forests or silhouetted against the sky. Images range from forests, night skies, sunrises or sunsets.

– In a more mystical depiction, deer tattoos can be integrated with a crescent moon.



There is really no wrong way to design a deer tattoo, and literally hundreds of images available to choose from, with just as much symbolism. Whatever style of deer tattoo you choose, you’ll have a beautiful and individual representation of yourself and your personal beliefs.

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