Crossbow Deer Hunting / White-Tailed Deer.
The White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is a medium-sized deer found throughout most of the continental United States, southern Canada, Mexico, Central America and northern portions of South America as far south as Peru. Recent estimates put the deer population in the United States at around 30 million today.
White-Tailed Deer Species.
Below is information on white-tailed deer classification and taxonomy, and some of the subspecies of white-tailed deer.
Species O. virginianus (some nearctic and neotropic subspecies)
- Odocoileus virginianus clavium (Key deer)
- Odocoileus virginianus ochrourus (Northwest white-tailed deer)
- Odocoileus virginianus couesi (Coues deer/Arizona white-tailed deer)
- Odocoileus virginianus leucurus (Columbian white-tailed deer)
- Odocoileus virginianus virginianus (Virginia white-tailed deer)
- Odocoileus virginianus mcilhennyi (Avery Island white-tailed deer)
- Odocoileus virginianus texanus (Texas white-tailed deer)
- Odocoileus virginianus carminis (Carmen Mountains white-tailed deer)
White-Tailed Deer Coloration.
The whitetail deer's coat is a reddish-brown in the spring and summer and turns to a grey-brown throughout the fall and winter. The deer can be recognized by the characteristic white underside to its tail, which it shows as a signal of alarm by raising the tail during escape.
Male White-Tailed Deer, Bucks.
The whitetail deer male (also known as a buck) usually weighs from 130 to 220 pounds but, animals in excess of 350 pounds have been recorded.
Whitetail deer males one year of age or older have antlers. Antlers begin to grow in early spring, covered with a highly vascularised tissue known as velvet. Bucks either have a typical or non-typical antler arrangement.
Typical is when the antlers are symmetrical on both sides and the points grow straight up off the main beam.
Non-typical is usually when the antlers are asymmetrical and the points are going in any direction off the main beam.
A buck's inside spread can be any were from 3-25 inches normally. Bucks shed their antlers when all females have been bred, from late December to February.
Whitetail deer males compete for the opportunity of breeding females. Sparring among males during the pre-rut determines a dominance hierarchy. Bucks will attempt to copulate with as many females as possible, losing physical condition since they rarely eat or rest during the rut.
The general geographical trend is for the rut to be shorter in duration at increased latitude.
Female White-Tailed Deer, Doe's.
The whitetail deer female (doe) usually weighs from 90 to 130 pounds, but some can weigh as much as 165 to 175 pounds.
Whitetail deer females enter estrus, colloquially called the rut, in the fall, normally in late October or early November, triggered mainly by declining photo-period. Sexual maturation of females depends on population density. Females can mature in their first year, although this is unusual and would occur only at very low population levels. Most females mature at one or, sometimes, two years of age.
Whitetail deer doe's give birth to one, two or even possibly three spotted young, known as fawns in mid to late spring, generally in May or June. Fawns lose their spots during the first summer and will weigh from 44 to 77 pounds (20 to 35 kg) by the first winter. Male fawns tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females.
White-Tailed Deer Communication.
Whitetails communicate in many different ways including sounds, scent, and marking.
White-Tailed Deer Sound Communication.
All whitetail deer are capable of producing audible noises, unique to each animal. Fawns release a high pitched squeal, known as a bleat, to call out to their mothers. Does also bleat, as well as grunt. Grunting produces a low, guttorial sound that will attract the attention of any other deer in the area. Both does and bucks snort, a sound that often signals danger. As well as snorting, bucks also grunt at a pitch thats gets lower with maturity. Bucks are unique, however, in their grunt-snort-wheeze pattern that often shows aggression and hostility.
White-Tailed Deer Scent Communication.
Whitetails possess many glands that allow them to produce scents, some of which are so potent they can be detected by the human nose. Three major glands are the orbital, tarsal, and metatarsal glands. Orbital glands are found on the head, and scent is deposited from them by rubbing the head, often the area around the eyes, on hanging twigs. The tarsal glands are found on the lower outside of each hind leg. Scent is deposited from these glands when deer walk through and rub against vegitation. The metatarsal glands, found on the inside "knee" of each hind leg, are the most potent.
White-Tailed Deer Scent Communication During The Rut.
During the breeding season, whitetail deer will rub urine, as a process during which a deer sqats while urinating so that urine will run down the insides of the deer's legs. The deer then rubs its metatarsal glands together, rubbing the urine into the tuft of hair found at this location. Secretions from the metatarsal gland mix with the urine and bacteria to produce a strong smelling odor. Also in breeding season, does release hormones and pheremones that tell bucks the doe is in heat and able to breed.
White-Tailed Deer Buck Boundary Marking.
Rub-Line: Whitetail deer markings are a very obvious way that whitetail communicate. Although bucks do most of the marking, does visit these locations often. One form of marking is known as rubbing. To make a rub, a buck with use its antlers to strip the bark off of small diameter trees, helping to mark his territory and polish his antlers.
Scrape-Line: Also to help mark territory, bucks will make scrapes. Often occurring in patterns known as scrape lines, scrapes are areas where a buck has used its front hooves to expose bare earth. Bucks usually then urinate into these scrapes and scrapes are often found under twigs that have been marked with scent from orbital glands.