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White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer can be found in most of the United States and southern Canada. They get their name from the underside of their tail, which is white. When a deer is alarmed or running, the tail is erect like a flag.

They have large ears that allow them to pick up even the faintest sounds, and a good sense of smell. Besides their sense of smell and hearing, their other defense is their speed. White-tailed deer can reach speeds up to 40 miles per hour as they bound over obstacles. They are also good swimmers and can retreat to streams and lakes to avoid predators.

The male white-tailed deer, bucks, grow shed antlers every year from about March to August and shed them from December to March (sometimes April). They use their antlers to fight other bucks during mating season, which is commonly referred to as the “rut.” They also use their antlers to rub bark off of small trees and shrubs; these are called “rubs.” They create rubs to establish their territory. Bucks also paw at the ground exposing fresh dirt creating “scrapes,” and spread their scent on the scrapes. Bucks live alone or in small groups of 3 to 4.

Female white-tailed deer are called does, they have 1 to 3 fawns in the spring. The number of fawns they have depends on the abundance of food and water in their habitat. Does keep their male fawns for a year, then they split off on their own when they become yearlings. Female offspring leave after two years. Deer live in family groups, a doe and her fawns.

White-tailed deer eat strictly plants. Their diet changes with the season, they eat green forbs in the spring; and acorns, corn, twigs, buds and other nuts in the fall. They eat in the early morning or late afternoon.

White-tailed deer live in the prairie as well as other plant communities. However they do require some sort of woody cover, which can be shrubs or a patch of trees. They often have a routine where they travel for food, water and cover.