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Whitetail Deer Information.

Deer, like man live well at the edges of things.

Today, whitetail deer range from the Atlantic to the pacific and from southern Canada to Peru. When startled or alarmed the whitetail raises its tail and canters or trots away. If really alarmed it will run at a fast pace which can reach speeds up to 40 mph.

Whitetail deer are mostly active at dusk and dawn and may often feed at night. This may be an adaptation to the habits of man because man relies on his sight to find deer. Sight is not the deer’s keenest scene. They sometimes can’t distinguish between a motionless figure and its background but deer are very quick to spot movement. Just a slight movement will warn the deer that something isn’t quite right and send the deer running for cover. If the deer is suspicious and there is no movement the deer will approach and stamp with its foreleg As to get the suspicious figure to move. The deer may also move downwind and analyze the wind with their nose for the detection of danger.

There is no doubt about the deer’s keen scene of hearing. Their ears are great collectors of sound waves. There is also no doubt about the high degree of sensitivity of the deer’s nose, which us humans can’t even begin to understand. Deer, wolfs, coyotes, bears and dogs speak a language with their nose that us humans are totally illiterate.

In May the pregnant doe drives away her offspring of the previous year. As her term draws near usually in late may or early June, some does seek out a particular place but most give birth wherever they happen to be. The fawn is usually born with its front feet coming first and the head between the legs. Labor is short and often takes place at dusk. Long before morning she has licked the fawn clean and more or less dry. This is done to leave the fawn scent free while she goes off and feeds. The doe will also lick under the fawn’s tail to stimulate the fawn into defecating. Then the doe will eat the droppings so the area is scent free.

With her sharp and lightning quick hooves she defends her young against bobcat and coyote. The doe’s milk is very rich so the fawn can grow rapidly so after a couple weeks the fawn can follow her and soon keep up with her as she runs. The fawns that survive the venerable days of hiding and start to follow their mothers must be strong enough to rely on flight to evade predators. They learn to graze as they imitate their mothers and to rely less on her milk for both doe and fawn must build fat reserves if they are to survive the coming winter. By august like their mothers the fawns begin to molt. Replacing there spotted reddish summer coats with winter ones of brownish gray. This coat will make them invisible when standing among the leafless trees.

Single parent families are the rule among deer. The male deer only contributes his gene and leaves all the nursery duties to the does. For the rest of the year he concentrates on eating and in summer growing antlers. Antler growth usually begins in the month of April or may. The antlers begin as a special kind of cartilage witch turn into bone as the antlers grow. They grow from the base of a permanent pedicle and are covered by a special kind of skin called velvet. The antlers grow very fast and are nourished by arteries inside the antlers and outside by the velvet. By august the antlers have reached their maximum growth for the year. There size and form reflect the age and condition of the buck and the nutrition condition of the habitat. The cartilage has now becomes strong hard bone and arteries inside the antlers and the velvet slowly dies.

By September the buck rubs off the remaining dead velvet on trees and shrubs and the antlers are now polished and ready. Antlers are deciduous and grow at the tips like trees. They even look like trees. In October after the velvet is shed bucks will use their antlers on trees and each other to polish their skills for the breeding season to come.

Whitetail deer have 32 teeth, which consist of 12 molars, 12 premolars, 6 insicors, and 2 canines. The age of deer can be determined by the amount of wear on the deer’s teeth. Deer have a 4 chambered stomach. They will feed quickly then retreat to a safe place usually a place with good cover and regurgitate the food they have eaten and rechew the food for digestion. That is why you don’t see deer feeding in one spot for a long period of time.

Deer in Pennsylvania Eat over 100 different kinds of plants. Some of these foods are buds, stems, and leaves of shrubs and young trees, Briers, apples, acorns, and beechnuts. Whenever you have freshly logged woods this in what I call a deer buffet. Deer will wait for the chainsaws to stop. Soon as all is quite they will move in to feed.

In the spring when the plants have become abundant deer will eat 10 pounds of food per day. Some female fawns are capable of reproducing at seven or eight months of age and give birth at 14 or 15 months of age. Adult females (2.5 years and older) usually produce twins, triplets are not uncommon. There is a pronounced tendency for young females to produce a larger percentage of male offspring than older does. The normal pregnancy lasts approximately 200 days. The average weight of a newborn fawn is between 5 and 8 pounds.

Newborn fawns are well camouflaged. Their mother will lick them clean after birth to keep them sent free. This will help them from being detected from predators. Fawns usually double in size during the first two weeks after birth. If a fawn can make it through the first 2 weeks there chance of survival is greatly improved.

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© 2007 John Hodgdon
Deer Hunting.

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