The National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key
You won’t find Key deer anywhere else in the world, except in the lower Florida Keys. The Florida Key deer is the smallest of all white-tailed deer.
Key deer are about the size of a big dog. They measure a little over two feet tall at the shoulder. A female (doe) weighs 45 to 65 pounds, while males (bucks) weigh 55 to 75. At birth, Key deer weigh a mere two to four pounds! Oh, how sweet that sight must be.
Every time we're in the lower Keys, we visit the National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key. With only 600 to 750 of this beautiful Key West wildlife left on the planet, we want to see them every chance we can. Key deer are currently listed as endangered – because of human interaction.
When you reach Big Pine Key, you’ll immediately see the standard yellow deer signs, as you would in other parts of the country, but you’ll also see reduced speed limit signs – 45 mph in the daytime and 35 at night. Please obey! The Key deer population depends on it.
Where to See Key Deer
Florida Key deer can best be seen at dawn or dusk in the field at the far end of Key Deer Boulevard, or along Watson Boulevard on No Name Key. This key deer hot spot is 100 miles south of Miami and 30 miles north of Key West, just off US 1. Turn at the light (there’s only one light on Big Pine Key.)
Note: Federal law prohibits the disturbance and feeding of the deer. Take photos! Ogle! Just don’t touch, approach or feed. But definitely go see them!