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White-tailed Deer

Updated on February 25, 2016

Scientific Name: Odocoileus virginianus



Depending on the time of the year, you will see different colors on the White Tailed Deer. In the summer months they have brown and red on them. During the winter they are more of a shade of gray. What doesn’t change though is the physical appearance of a white patch under the tail. This of course is where their name stems from. It is also the trademark of appearance that people are able to notice them from.

They are very cute animals, there is no arguing that. This is why the White Tailed Deer is often one found in books, used for pictures online, and that children and adults are in awe of. They all have very small ears but they do have exceptional hearing. Only the males grow antlers. They will shed them after the mating season is over. The antlers can have a variety of points but only one beam that they will stem from.

Full grown females are up to 70 pounds but some of them are small, around 40 pounds. For the males some of them are about 100 pounds and others are only about 60 pounds. The place where they live has a great deal to do with the overall size that they will become. This is why some people think they are looking at young White Tailed Deer when they are really seeing full grown ones on the smaller weight side of things.


It is amazing just how fast these deer are able to move. There legs are long and slender but they are also very muscular. If you see this type of deer in the wild you want to keep your eye on it. In a split second it could be gone! The hooves are designed to give them flexibility in the terrain where they can live. This is part of what has allowed them to become so populated as well as diversified in the world.


 While we do know plenty about the White Tailed Deer right now, we don’t have very much information about them millions of years ago. What was going on that caused them to evolve? They were definitely among the species that were able to move into new territories and to adapt to the changes out there. They also branched off with many subspecies as a result of that. There is still lots we need to find out, and with the help of some fossils dating millions of years ago we may one day understand all of it.

Deer video


 It is amazing at how well tuned into the surroundings these deer happen to be. While they may initially seem care free and just eating, they are listening to what is going on around them. They will be ready to hide or to run if they need to. The females live in herds and they find comfort in the large numbers that gather. The males though are loners and as they mature they will head out there and find their own territory.

Click thumbnail to view full-size


 The White Tailed Deer tends to be friendly than others, so they aren’t territorial when it comes to location. You will find plenty of different herds with their area covering the same space as others. They tend to leave each other alone though. Even the males aren’t too territorial until it comes down to getting a female into their home range.

These deer can be found living in the mountains, on the open plains, and even in the wooded forest areas. They will adapt to any such environment which is really amazing. That fact is one of the reasons why so much research has taken place surrounding the White Tailed Deer.

Diet/Feeding Habits

The diet for these deer is very different depending on where they happen to be living. They are picky eaters too when there is plenty to go around. In most areas they can feed very well in the spring and summer months. As fall and winter come along though it becomes harder for them to do so. That is when they will kick into survival mode and consume anything that they can instead of passing something over in search of something better.

Plants, shrubs, fruits that seasonally grow, and grass make up the diet for these herbivores. With more than 500 different types of plants known to be part of their diet, it is really amazing at all they can consume. Once again, this is believed to be vital to their overall ability to survive in various environments.


 Even though the males are often isolated and even tempered, the mating process from fall to winter will change all of that. They will become more aggressive in protecting their home range. They will fight with other deer using their horns so that they are the dominant one and be able to mate. The battles with their antlers can last for hours and even days. Sometimes they will get so tangled up that both will die of starvation.

Mating can occur as early as two years of age. That is usually when the females will take part in it. However, if there isn’t enough food to go around they won’t take part in it. This is why it can be hard to get populations back up in certain areas once they dwindle. The males very seldom ever mate at an age of less than four. They simply aren’t strong enough to do so.

The females will carry the young fawn in the body for about 7 months. The young will be born with spots on them that fade as tme passes by. The mother will remove herself and the fawn from the rest of the herd. She knows the young is vulnerable and so she will hide it well. For the first couple of weeks she will bond with it, leaving only long enough to eat and then to come back and feed her offspring.

White-tailed Deer


 What predators that a White Tailed Deer has to come face to face with really depends on the areas where they live. Some common ones out there include fox and wolves. Wild dogs are also known to eat them. Most of the time though these predators aren’t too much of a danger for them. They can often run before the predator gets too close. They can also fight with their hooves if they need to.

Humans kill more of these deer than any predators out there. These deer seem to be involved in many accidents with vehicles. The fact that roads continue to be build in the middle of their habitat only increases those occurrences. Others are hunted for sport by people that apply for tags for the privilege to do so. They are only able to hunt during certain times of the year and in certain areas.

The White Tailed Deer is believed to be among the very best tasting deer meat out there. That is a common reason for such hunting to take place. Other people are after the trophy – they want to mount a huge buck on the wall as a way to represent the glory of the kill they have been a part of.


Submit a Comment
  • laurentmikhail profile imageAUTHOR

    Laurent Mikhail 

    6 years ago from Miami, FL

    Thanks for your comments

  • Ruby H Rose profile image

    Maree Michael Martin 

    6 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

    Wonderful deer information and photos! Just what I was looking for. Voted up and shared and linked. I am looking forward to checking out some of your other interesting links too. Thanks.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    that was asum

  • lundmusik profile image


    7 years ago from Tucson AZ

    appreciate your great article,,, see my hub on deer crossings for some great news!! thanks for your great example of the marking of special boxes,, and the amazon ads.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    That is wonderfully written and very informative. Thank you.


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