White-Tailed Deer


Scientific Name

Odocoileus virginianus

Species Survival Plan



Open woodlands, fringes of urban areas and farming country, desert within 10 miles of water


Mountain lion, wolf, coyote and man


Twigs, buds, leaves, forbs, acorns, fruit and agricultural crops such as corn and soybeans

Originally Native To

Southern Canada and throughout the U.S.


36 - 42 inches at shoulders


50 - 250 lb.


Males have antlers

Gestation Period

200 days


1 - 2 fawns

Birth Season

April - June


Wild 10 years
Captivity 20 years

Social Behavior

Doe and fawns generally graze together in large herds; bucks live alone or in small bachelor herds


About White-Tailed Deer

“White-tailed deer” refers to the white underside of the tail, which is held conspicuously erect like a flag when the animal is alarmed or running.

White-tailed deer are more numerous in modern times than prior to European settlement of North America. In precolonial times, they were prey for wolves and mountain lions.

Native Americans hunted white-tailed deer year-round. They are found in forests, farms, wetlands, parks, open areas and suburban locales.

White-tailed deer are browsers and grazers. This animal is a ruminant and has no incisor teeth in its upper jaw. It feeds mainly from before dawn until several hours after, as well as from late afternoon until dusk.

Males are larger than females and grow antlers from March-August. Age, genetics and nutrition determine antler size, which establishes social status among males. During the mating season, the bucks fight to breed with does.

Large-antlered bucks, with their intimidating racks, mate more frequently. The antlers are shed in late winter every year and eaten by rodents for the high calcium content.

White-tailed deer have good eyesight and acute hearing, but depend mainly on their sense of smell to detect danger. They have numerous scent glands on their legs for intraspecies communication, and secretions become especially strong during the rut.

A baby deer, called a fawn, weighs 3-6 pounds at birth. It is reddish-brown with white spots for camouflage. The spots disappear by the fourth or fifth month.

Fawns can walk at birth and run within a week. White-tailed does are painstakingly careful to keep their offspring hidden from predators. When foraging, females leave the fawns in dense vegetation for about four hours at a time.

Fawns are weaned at approximately 6-10 weeks of age. Females generally follow their mothers for about two years, but males leave the group within the first year. Bucks develop a pair of spiked antlers by the fall of their second year.


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