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Whitetail Deer

Common Name: Whitetail Deer
Scientific Name: Odocoileus virginianus
Range: Most US states except  most of CA, NV, UT
Subspecies: Key and Coues
Habitat: Forests, farmlands, Suburbs,
The Whitetail Deer is the most abundant deer species in North America. Often adapts to living in close proximity to homes or business where nearby woods provide cover or corridors to other areas. Often seen around edges of agriculture fields and woods.

Whitetail DeerMale Whitetail deer are called 'buck', females are called 'doe', and young deer are 'fawns'. Usually a brown to red-brown in summer turning more tan in the fall through the winter. This color change is possible because of the deer's fur which is made up of thousands of hollow hairs. These hairs have blood in them in the summer time which helps them stay cool and more camouflaged with it's darker surroundings. In the winter time the hairs are hollow giving the a layer of insulation from the cold of winter while changing the deer's color to a gray to more closely resemble the color of the fallen leaves and dead grasses.
Male deer grow new antlers each year beginning about June. There antlers usually consist of a main beam with additional tines growing up from the main beam. Occasionally bucks grow what is called a non-typical rack where the antlers grow in multiple or unusual angles and/or shapes. Bucks loose those antlers each year usually beginning in late December but in southern states they may keep them up through March. On very rare occasions whitetail does have been known to grow antlers and males have been known to not grow antlers. Often these animals are known to have been sterile

This picture was taken in Cades Cove in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

Sign: Whitetail Deer TrackDeer tracks are a pair of pointed tear drops, side-by-side. Adult tracks are generally 2-4" long. The points point to the direction of travel. Two dots can sometimes be seen behind the tracks in soft soil or snow. These are from the dew claws which are found on both males and females. The  Animals sex can not be determined by tracks.

Buck Rubs: Male deer, bucks, make rubs on trees during late summer and early fall. A buck rub is polished section of tree made when a buck rubs his antlers up and down on that section of the tree.
Whitetail Deer Rub
Whitetail Deer Buck Rub TR
It is thought that the rubs serve two purposes; first as a way for deer to remove the velvet from it's antlers while he exercises his neck preparing for sparing and fighting during the breeding season. Secondly and perhaps no less important as a territorial marker letting other bucks and does know this is his area.

The rub pictured to the left is on a tree 3-4" in  diameter and goes from about 12" off of the ground up to about 50".

Scrapes: Male deer also make 'scrapes' around this same fall season. A scrape is a small area of leaves that have been scraped away by the the buck with his hooves. This scraping reveals the dirt below the leaves and the buck will urinate into the  dirt of the scrape. Often above this scrape you will see a licking branch. The buck will actively lick this branch leaving saliva behind as a marker.
During the peak of the mating season large leafless areas can sometimes be found where bucks were sparring or fighting with each other over mating rights or territorial disputes. These fights are generally a test of strength, but injuries and death do happen.
Diet: The diet of whitetail deer can very greatly depending on the  region and season.

Urban deer have learned to adapt their diet to match local greenhouse supply.   

Gestation: The gestation period of the whitetail deer averages about 202 days.

Whitetail deer are known to be preyed upon by wolfs, cougars, coyotes, black bears, brown bears, bobcats, dogs and alligators. Here are some photos of an alligator with an adult whitetail deer

Related Links & Resources:
I Found A Baby Deer, what do I do?
Florida Hunter Kills True Hermaphrodite Whitetail
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Hemorrhagic Disease
Deer Warts



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