deer

deer

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     The fur of the whitetail deer is a grayish color in the winter then more red comes out during the summer. Only the bucks have antlers. Young males begin to grow their antlers in the spring, then towards the fall the skin on their antlers begins to deteriorate. The velvet is very itchy and the young male will rub its new antlers on anything possible. The average height of the deer is between 3 – 3.5 ft. Their tail length is about 30 cm. in length. Their weight ranges from 100 – 350 pounds.
     Bucks are usually solitary but sometimes they may travel in a small group. Deer usually herd together during winter months to conserve energy. Their territory is usually small depending on the food supply. If there is a good food source in a certain area, the deer will have a smaller home range. More traveling is needed if the food source is less abundant. In eastern forests, buds and twigs of maple, sassafras, poplar, aspen, and birch are consumed, as well as many shrubs. In the desert areas, plants such as huajillo brush, yucca, prickly pear cactus, comal, ratama, and various tough shrubs may be the deer’s main diet components. Conifers are often utilized in winter when other foods are scarce. They are crepuscular animals, feeding mainly from before dawn until several hours after, and again from late afternoon until dusk.
     Most white-tailed deer mate after their second year, especially males. Females have been found to mate as early as seven months. Bucks are polygamous although they may form an attachment and stay with a single doe for several days or even weeks until she reaches oestrus. Mating occurs from October to December and gestation is approximately 6 and a half months. In her first breeding, a female generally has one fawn, but 2 per litter are born in subse2quent years. Fawns are able to walk at birth and nibble on vegetation only a few days later. They are weaned at approximately six weeks. Life span in the wild is about 10 years, but whitetail deer have lived up to 20 years in captivity.
     They are able to live in a variety of terrestrial habitats, from the big woods of northern Maine to the deep saw grass and hammock swamps of Florida. They also inhabit farmlands, brushy areas and such desolate areas of the west such as the cactus and thornbrush deserts of southern Texas and Mexico.

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Ideal whitetail deer habitat would contain dense thickets in which to hide and move about and edges in which to obtain food.
     Overpopulation has been a problem with white tailed deer. When there are too many deer, starvation weakens the entire population. Generally, predators would take out the weakest or sick deer to regulate the herds, but when the European settlers came they changed all of that. They killed off many of the predators causing many problems with the deer population and health. Today many states regulate hunting to strengthen the deer population and prevent overpopulation.
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