The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was designated the State of Mississippi land mammal in 1974. White-tailed deer are highly adaptable species and thrive in a variety of habitats. The areas that provide the most suitable environment include a mixture of hardwoods, croplands, brushlands and pasturelands. They prefer an interspersed habitat including meadows, forested woodlots, brushy areas and croplands.
An animal of incredible beauty and power, white-tailed deer are able to run up to 40 miles per hour, jump 9 foot fences, and swim 13 miles per hour. The white underside of the deer's tail waves when running and is flashed as a warning when danger is sensed. Both native Americans and settlers relied on the white-tailed deer for buckskin and food.
White-tailed deer require a variety of foods for growth and reproduction. During the spring through fall, they feed on grasses, legumes, weeds, fruit, agricultural crops and the tender growth of shrubs, trees and vines. Their diet subsists of acorns, green growth, woody plant stems and evergreen leaves during the fall and winter. Their food sources need to be less than 4 ½ feet from the ground.
Deer have few natural predators and are managed primarily through hunting. As their population in certain areas increases, so does disease and parasites that can ultimately cause widespread die-offs. There are a number of land management techniques for controlling deer habitat including prescribed burning, timber thinning and food plantings.