The White-Tailed Deer

White tailed Buck
Odocoileus virginianus

Also known as the orange tailed deer or Virginia deer, the whitetail is native to the United States, Canada, Central America and northern South America. They are most common east of the Rocky Mountains, and are absent from the far western states.

The white-tailed deer is a reddish brown color in the spring and summer that fades to a grayish brown in the fall and winter months. The size of the deer vary greatly, following Bergmann’s rule that the average size increases the farther away from the Equator the animal lives. Bucks can vary from 130 lbs to an excess of 350, while an adult doe in the tropics or Florida Keys can be found as small as 60 lbs, to over 200 lbs in northern climates. The average shoulder height is 21″ – 47″.

The white-tailed deer uses the characteristic white underside of its tail to communicate a warning to other nearby deer of possible danger. Their tails can vary anywhere from 3.9 to 14.4 inches. All deer have dichromatic (two color) vision with blue and yellow as their primaries, making it difficult for them to detect colors like red and orange.

Although most often noted as a forest animal, the white-tailed deer has proven itself quite adaptable to many environments, such as open prairie lands and savanna woodlands. Commercial exploitation, unregulated hunting and poor land usage severely depressed deer population about a century ago, but thanks to conservation efforts their numbers today are estimated to be about 30 million in the US alone. Of this, the whitetail is the most common. This species is the state animal of Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.  It is the wildlife symbol of Wisconsin, and the game animal of Oklahoma.

White-tailed dear fawn