White-tailed Deer

(Odocoileus virginianus)

Most white-tailed deer mate in their second year, between October and December. Gestation lasts approximately 6 and 1/2 months. A first pregnancy will typically yield a single fawn, but those following may produce two or three. Fawns are able to walk at birth, and are nursed several times a day for about two months. After two months they also begin feeding on vegetation, and by 10 weeks, they are fully weaned from the teat.

Very protective of their young, mothers will hide their offspring before searching for food—and only for short periods of time. Camouflage is an important adaptation which serves the fawns well while they lay disguised against the forest floor, awaiting their mother’s return. Fawns begin to forage at about four weeks, in close proximity to their mother.

Fawns stay with their mothers into the fall or winter. Young males leave their mother after a year but young females may stay for upto two years. 

Females and their fawns may graze together in herds. In September, males begin to establish dominance hierarchies so that they can mate. They will fight for the right to mate with particular females. White-tailed deer have well-defined home ranges, but are not territorial.

Facts About White-tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are native to almost every continent with the exception of Australia and Antarctica. They can adapt to nearly any habitat, but prefer woodland areas for shelter and food sources.  Swamps make good places for deer to hide out during the hunting season, and pines provide shelter and warm bedding material during the winter months. The animal usually seeks cover and beds down near dawn.