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White-tailed deer facts


  • Named for the white hairs on the underside of its tail.   
  • Predators include: wolves, bear, coyotes, bobcats, cougars and humans. 

  • White-tailed deer are a valuable, renewable, natural resource that must be managed or they will over populate.
  • A whitetail's keen sense of smell, hearing and sight help them detect danger.
  • Deer can smell 100+ times better than humans. Whitetails have millions more nasal receptors than humans which help them distinguish between odors.

  • Deer's oversize ears enable them to hear incredibly well. They can rotate their ears like radar which helps them pinpoint the origin of sounds.

  • Big side mounted eye-balls allow deer to see ahead and behind without moving their head. 

  • How well do deer see at night?  The short answer is: better than you do. Way better. Research on deer vision has focused more on their ability to perceive color than see in the dark, but here's what we do know.  The eye posseses two types of photoreceptors--cones and rods. Cones are primarily responsible for seeing color. Rods are much more sensitive to light. Ungulates have a large number of rods in their eyes. They also have a special mirror in the back of their eyes that reflects captured light back through the retina. This mirror--which humans and other primates lack--is what creates "eyeshine" when you point a flashlight at a deer, racoon or bear. It also allows them to make better use of what light is present, be it moonlight or just starlight.

  • Whitetails can run 35+ miles per hour and jump an 8 foot fence.
  • Deer breed in November. Most fawns are born in May - June. Does in good physical condition generally will have twins.

  • Newborn fawns weigh about four to six pounds. Mature bucks can weigh over 300 pounds.
  • Deer are mostly browsers feeding on leaves, buds and twigs. They like corn, alfalfa, soybeans and apples.

  • Deer likely drink daily, when water is available.There is no standard water requirement for deer since their needs vary by sex, age, reproductive status and season. In Minnesota there are 10,000+ lakes, many rivers and streams, plentiful rain and water is abundant for wildlife most of the times. In some arid areas of the country, like Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, water for wildlife is scarce. But deer have figured out how to lessen the impact of sparse moisture. They will congregate around man made water collection sites; dams, potholes, water tanks and the like.


  • Like cows, deer have four stomachs, and are ruminants or "cud chewers". Lots of what goes in must come out... Droppings are tell-tale clues about where deer live.

  • In the wild deer can live as long as 11 years. In heavy hunting pressure areas very few bucks live beyond 2 1/2 years.
  • The deer's coat is reddish-brown in the spring and summer and turns to a grey-brown throughout the fall and winter. The following picture was taken on June 1 in Minnesota. Both bucks have started growing their antlers. The buck on the left is sporting his summer coat while the buck on the right is still in process of shedding his winter coat.

  • Antler Development: Some cows have horns and some deer have antlers. There's a difference. Horns stay with cows their entire lives. Deer shed their antlers every winter and grow new ones after the weather warms up. Not all antler growth is the same from deer to deer or year to year. Disease, nutrition, injury, all sorts of things factor into antler development. Take the whitetail buck in the following photo. While it's only a guess as to why this young animal simply grew spikes and nothing more, most likely the reason has to do with nutrition.

  • Deer attract ticks (deer and wood) that are looking for a host. Deer tick females latch onto a host then drink its blood for four or five days. After it is engorged the tick drops off and overwinters in the leaf litter on the forest floor. The following spring, the female tick lays several hundred to a few thousand eggs in clusters. Some whitetails that we have harvested contained more than fifty ticks.

  • Pheromones emitted by does arouse a buck's breeding instincts and attracts the buck to the doe.
  • More than one buck may respond to the doe's estrous calling card.
  • If multiple bucks respond to the doe's calling card and if one of the bucks doesn't back down, fights will erupt.
  • These fights aren't school yard scuffles. This ain't sparring. This is war!
  • Bucks will fight until one of the bucks is either dead or gives up the fight.
  • The winning "dominant" buck earns the right to pass on his genes, but only when the doe gives the green light. That's right; she's the boss and ultimate gate keeper! 

  • Here is what is left after the wolves get done with a deer kill. Picture was taken 100 yards from our hunt cabin.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that there are 1.5 million automobile/deer collisions each year. Over 200 people are killed annually. 2009 average cost of hitting a deer is $6,600. Total public cost is: $9.9 billion per year. Now consider that, for every deer hit by a motorist, hunters take six. Imagine the human casualties and costs if hunting ended. 

  • Don't Veer for Deer! When you see a deer on the roadway ahead, you sometimes have only a brief moment to react. And you may not know the right thing to do. Statistics show that most motorist deaths and injuries occur when drivers swerve to avoid hitting the deer and strike a fixed object, like a tree, or hit another vehicle. No one wants to hit a deer with their vehicle, but striking the animal is often the safest action. 

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