Whitetail Deer Biology

General characteristics of deer

Obviously, proper identification of deer is important for deer hunters. This is particularly true if the hunt that your participants are participating in has restrictions on the age or sex of the animals that are legal to harvest.

Photos, line drawings and videos are the best way to illustrate the age and sex characteristics of deer. Initially, it is recommended to show deer in isolated, obvious situations. However, we also recommend that photos and videos be shown that illustrate deer in the “natural” state where only small portions of the animal are visible or the animal is shown at various angles. These are more likely scenarios seen while hunting.

The state’s hunting regulation pamphlet should be used to illustrate antler restrictions, if applicable.

Photos, line drawings and videos should cover:

  • Bucks (including antler restrictions if in place)
  • Does
  • Fawns

Whitetail behavior

Purposely finding whitetail deer is the essence of deer hunting. While this may seem obvious to you and your instructors, it may not be to your participants.

In fact, for many of your participants, the only whitetail deer they have ever seen have been during chance encounters while driving or fleeting encounters on an evening walk.

Purposely, predicting where a deer will likely travel to, or through, is a skill that may take a lifetime to hone. Unfortunately, you will only be able to introduce the basics during the course. Hopefully, your participants will be able to establish a longer-term mentoring relationship with an experienced deer hunter to help refine their deer hunting education.

Fortunately, the fundamental aspects of deer biology, which in turn drives deer behavior, are relatively straightforward. Recognizing the subtleties of this behavior and applying it in the field often is the difference between a successful hunt and going home empty handed. 

The specifics covered in session should be reinforced during any scheduled field trips to actually scout for deer. 

We recommend that an agency biologist present this section. We also recommend that this same instructor lead that deer-scouting field, if a group trip is planned.

However, it is important to remember that this is not a scientific deer-biology class; it is a class about understanding, and using, deer biology to become a better hunter.

Several key points in deer biology are worth explaining:


White-Tailed Deer North Carolina Wildlife Profiles

No wild animal in North Carolina is as recognizable as the white-tailed deer.
Whether a mature buck with splendid antlers, a graceful doe or a spotted
fawn running with its mother, the white-tailed deer is one of the most popular
of animals.
The five species of deer in North America are: the mule deer, white-tailed deer,
elk, caribou and moose. The white-tailed deer is prevalent in North Carolina,
and the National Park Service has released elk in the mountains.

White-tailed Deer Biology & Management

The flashing of a white, flag-like tail along the edge of a field and into the woods signals the presence of the most popular game animal in the South. Hunting the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginiana) is a form of recreation that is steeped in tradition and tremendously popular. There is also considerable interest in the aesthetic, economic and educational values of deer as well as the recreational opportunities they provide. Our deer herds are certainly a valuable resource and, with proper management, they will continue to thrive.

Whitetail Deer Facts & Trivia, Information, and Photos

In all of nature, there may not be another creature as majestic, swift, or as graceful as the Whitetail Deer.
Whitetail Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are the most common large North American land mammal, and one of the most popular animals to hunt in the world. With their muscular bodies, timid personality, acute hearing, and their keen sense of smell, whitetails are remarkable creatures. American Expedition is proud to present information about Whitetails, interesting Whitetail Deer Facts & Trivia, Deer Photos, and Tips for Tracking Whitetail Deer.

National Geographic - White-Tailed Deer

White-tailed deer, the smallest members of the North American deer family, are found from southern Canada to South America. In the heat of summer they typically inhabit fields and meadows using clumps of broad-leaved and coniferous forests for shade. During the winter they generally keep to forests, preferring coniferous stands that provide shelter from the harsh elements.

Winter Deer Foods

The following is a partial listing of tree and shrub species that are eaten by deer in the winter, arranged in order of quality and preference. This listing is based on thousands of observations in deer wintering areas over many years from all parts of New York State.

White-Tailed Deer

A relatively small deer with relatively short ears; all major points of the antlers come off the main beam; tail relatively long, broad basally, and white underneath; metatarsal gland small and circular; females usually antlerless; upperparts reddish brown in summer, bright grayish fawn sprinkled with black in winter; face and tail usually lack blackish markings; underparts white. Dental formula as in the mule deer. External measurements average: (males) total length, 1,800 mm; tail, 300 mm; hind foot, 450 mm; females slightly smaller. Weight of males, 3070 kg.

A Hunter's Guide to Aging and Judging Live White-Tailed Deer in the Southeast

Rapid growth of deer populations, the overharvest of bucks, and the underharvest of does have created overpopulated deer herds with highly unbalanced sex ratios across the Southeast. These conditions result in a large number of female deer and a limited number of older aged bucks.

Deer overpopulation causes damage to forest vegetation and agricultural crops, threatens human health because of deervehicle collisions, and creates unhealthy deer as a result of inadequate food supplies.

White-Tailed Deer

Perhaps New York State’s most widely recognized large mammal, the white-tailed deer is a familiar sight to most, its famous “white flag” tail often spotted as the animal bounds off. Highly adaptable, the white-tailed deer is found throughout the state in a variety of settings. It is generally a shy, elusive animal that is a favorite of nature observers and sportsmen alike.