15 Facts About the White-Tailed Deer

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Did You Know Already Know These Things?

The white-tailed deer is the most popular wild game animal in North America. Biologists and researchers have spent countless time and money learning about the whitetail and what it means for deer hunters. These 15 facts have been part of those findings.

Fact No. 1

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1 | Fact No. 1

Deer can swim at up to speeds of 15 miles per hour. They can run up to speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour. And they can jump up to 6 to 8 feet high.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Melissa Grisham

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Fact No. 2

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2 | Fact No. 2

Whitetails are ruminants, meaning they have a four-chambered stomach, and have been known to eat upward of 625 to 650 different plant species.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Tony Campbell

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Fact No. 3

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3 | Fact No. 3

Deer will generally feed five times in a 24-hour period. The amount of food consumed is based on body weight, available resources, weather, temperature, etc. That said, they need to eat about 7 to 8 pounds of food per 100 pounds of body weight per day in order to maintain good health throughout the fall and winter. Essentially, a 200-pound buck would need to eat 14 to 16 pounds of food per day to accomplish this.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Tony Campbell

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Fact No. 4

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4 | Fact No. 4

The gestation period for a whitetail is 200 days. A whitetail doe will only have one fawn the first time she breeds, especially if breeding as a 7- to 8-month-old fawn. After that, she will give birth to either two or three fawns. It is possible for “twin” or “triplet” whitetail fawns born from the same doe to be sired by different bucks.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Tony Campbell

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Fact No. 5

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5 | Fact No. 5

A whitetail’s vision is dichromatic, meaning they see in shades of blue and yellow. The can’t see reds and oranges. They are approximately 20 to 25 times more sensitive to the color blue than a human is. Plus, they have a 310-degree field of vision. Translation — don’t wear blue jeans to the deer woods.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / RTI photo

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Fact No. 6

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6 | Fact No. 6

Humans have about 5 million olfactory cells. Dogs have approximately 220 million. Whitetails have an astonishing 297 million. That’s 77 million more cells than the average dog. No wonder whitetails pick off hunters the way they do.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Mike Rogal

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Fact No. 7

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7 | Fact No. 7

White-tailed deer have their own personalities. No two are exactly alike and they certainly aren’t a cookie-cutter species when it comes to animal behavior. Deer have different food preferences, move more or less during daylight, and even exhibit different levels of tolerance to human intrusion during the hunting season.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Ray Hennessy

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Fact No. 8

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8 | Fact No. 8

Studies show that moon phase, high winds and other common myths don’t truly affect deer movement. Deer move most at dawn and dusk.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Taff Pixture

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Fact No. 9

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9 | Fact No. 9

The tail on a whitetail isn’t just used as a signal for danger. It’s also used for other everyday messages and signals, too.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Tom Reichner

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Fact No. 10

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10 | Fact No. 10

The velvet-growing process isn’t a gradual one. In fact, there might be days where antlers don’t grow at all. Most of the rack is grown in spurts. It isn’t uncommon for deer to put on a lot of growth in a single day. Antlers are the fastest-growing known bone tissue on earth. The three biggest factors in growing big antlers are age, nutrition and genetics.

Don't Miss: How to Kill a Velvet Buck

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Bruce MacQueen

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Fact No. 11

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11 | Fact No. 11

The shedding of velvet occurs after the antlers harden. In the fall, testosterone levels begin to rise, which triggers the calcification process.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock / Bruce MacQueen

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Fact No. 12

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12 | Fact No. 12

Whitetail bucks have numerous glands on their body that aid in communication and identification. The eight known glands include the forehead, preorbital, nasal, salivary, tarsal, metatarsal, interdigital and preputial glands.

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Photo credit: Ryan Orndorff

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Fact No. 13

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13 | Fact No. 13

Bucks can lose up to 25 to 30 percent of their body weight during the rut. The rigors that come with the breeding season are hard on a male whitetail. Some even die due to the tolls it takes on their bodies.

Don't Miss: 7 Habits of Mature Rutting Bucks

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Tony Campbell

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Fact No. 14

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14 | Fact No. 14

Photoperiod (daylight length) is the primary trigger for the rut. The rut is more pronounced and synchronized when buck-to-doe ratios are closer to 1:1. Does remain in estrus for 24 to 48 hours. Those not bred will cycle into heat again 28 days later. Doe fawns won’t breed until they reach a certain weight threshold. That’s typically around 70 to 80 pounds in most states.

Don't Miss: 10 Facts About the Whitetail Rut

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Monte Loomis

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Fact No. 15

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15 | Fact No. 15

A white-tailed buck’s skeletal frame finishes developing at 4½ years of age. That’s why — most times — a buck’s antler potential is expressed afterward, generally between the age of 5½ and 7½. This is due to more nutrients and resources being available to go toward antler development.

Don't Miss: The Life of a Mature Deer and What It Means for Deer Hunting

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Jim Cumming

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