Cougar Stalks Deer Game

Cougar Stalks Deer is a game of stealth, awareness, and quick reflexes.

Age Range:

All ages

Number of Players:

2 or more

Space and Time Requirements: 

This game can be played in almost any amount of space: you can play in a room, throughout a house, along a trail or sidewalk, or in a small or large open space. Each round can be anywhere from 5-10 minutes long.


When deer are grazing (looking for food), they take a few bites of grass or other food, then perk up their heads, scanning their surroundings for threats. They see movement really well, and have excellent hearing. Cougars therefore have to be stealthy to hunt deer. They’ll crouch down low, and sneak up to the deer when their heads are down. When deer look up to scan for threats, the cougar will freeze, not making any noise, and try to be as still as possible so that the deer doesn’t see them. If all goes well for the cougar, they’ll be able to sneak close enough to the deer to pounce!


How to Play

The object of the game is for the cougars to successfully sneak up on the deer without being “seen”.



  • One person plays the “Deer”
  • Everyone else is a “Cougar”
  • The Deer and Cougars start the game as far apart as possible within the playing area
  • Choose an object or an action to be the “reset”. It can be anything from a piece of furniture, to a rock or tree, to a “high five” from somebody. The “reset” works best when it is far away from the Deer
  • The Deer is grazing–they pretend to be looking for/eating food, not paying attention to their surroundings. Every once in a while, they stop grazing to scan their surroundings for threats, especially if they hear something or sense movement nearby
  • The Cougars are stalking the Deer–when the deer is grazing, they try to sneak closer and closer. When the deer looks up to scan for threats, the Cougars should freeze
  • If the Deer sees any movement from the Cougars, or hears any noises while scanning for threats, they get to point at those Cougars that moved/made noise. Those Cougars have to go touch the “reset” object or do the “reset” action immediately before stalking the Deer again

How does it end?

Cougar stalks Deer ends when either one Cougar or all the Cougars successfully tag (or get within 6 ft of) the Deer. Before the game starts, you can decide how your game will end.


Game Variations

  • If you have at least 6 players, you can have 2 Deer for an added challenge! If either of the Deer hear you or see you moving, you have to go “reset”
  • If you get to play this game outside, add “the Smell Factor.” If the wind is blowing and the Deer can smell approaching threats too, from what wind direction should the Cougars try to sneak from so that the Deer can’t smell them?


Tips and Strategies

  • It’s very helpful to watch the Deer at all times so that you know when you’ll need to freeze
  • As you play, pay attention to the Deer’s body language. Learning how to read your Deer’s body language will help you figure out when they’re about to look at you!
  • It’s harder to move silently when you move quickly. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding how fast you want to move when the Deer is grazing
  • When you play the Deer, be honest about whether you hear someone/see movement. Don’t just point at someone because they’re close to you–the game is more fun when played by the rules!


Post-Game Discussion Questions

  • What strategies worked well?
  • What strategies didn’t work well?
  • How could we change the rules to make the game more fun next time?
  • What other animals stalk other animals?
  • Is it harder to be the deer or the cougar in this game?
  • Out in nature, is it harder for the deer to survive, or harder for the cougar to survive?
  • Can you sneak up on a real wild animal using the skills you’ve learned in this game?


Inspired by “Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature” by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown

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