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Deer in General

Whitetail deer are just one of many different species of the deer family, which represent some of the most attractive and graceful of all mammals that are hunted. The whitetail deer inhabits wooded and forested areas across most of the United States. Most adult whitetail deer are some shade of brown, varying from pail gold to almost black, which help whitetail deer blend in their surroundings.

Despite their wide variation in appearance and habits, whitetail deer have one characteristic in common, the possession of antlers for offensive and defensive fighting. Antlers differ from horns, like those of cattle, in that they are true solid-bone, tissue; in addition, they often have many branching tines and are usually shed and re-grown each year.

In spring or early summer, the new antlers begin to form on the whitetail deer, each growing out from a pedicel, a bony stalk situated on the frontal bone of the skull. During growth, they are covered with hairy skin, called the velvet, which contains many blood vessels for the nourishment of the growing bone tissue. When the antlers have reached the size and shape characteristic for the particular species, the blood circulation in the velvet is stopped, the velvet dies, and the whitetail deer {buck} then rubs off the dead skin against branches and rocks, revealing the handsome antlers. The entire process is completed by autumn, and the antlers are carried until winter, when they decay at the base and fall off, leaving only the hair-covered pedicels.

Since whitetail deer are cud-chewing animals, they feed on all manner of vegetation, but especially on twigs and leaves. On land they are noted for their fleetness of foot, as well as for their beauty and grace, and in the water they are excellent swimmers. The whitetail deer has an innate sense of curiosity, which sometimes leads them straight to the hunter’s gun.

Mating usually occurs in autumn. At this time the bucks engage in fierce battles to obtain the favor of the females, or does, or to protect their harems from other bucks. The following spring, the doe gives birth to one or two white-spotted fawns, which are carefully guarded by their mother until they are old enough to care for themselves. During winter, some species of whitetail deer gather together in herds. Their combined trampling keeps the snow packed down within an enclosed area and thus enables them to search for food. Such areas are known as “yards”. They are not only excellent game animals for sport, but also supply flavorful meat, known as venison.

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This information covers the general life of deer including the whitetail deer.