Join our Mailing List

»Know Your Game - Whitetail Deer

Whitetail Deer

HOME RANGE: Whitetails are found in most Canadian provinces; all but a handful of the lower 48 United States; most of Mexico except for Baja California; and all of Central America. Whitetails are also native to the northern part of South America.

Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Find an Outfitter Register your Animal

Whitetail Deer

Odocoileus virginianus

ANIMAL SUMMARY: Mature whitetail bucks (3 1/2 years old and older) vary in size and weight dramatically. A southeastern mature buck might weigh as little as 125 pounds, while a northern whitetail buck can weigh well over 300 pounds. Females (does) are much smaller. The graceful, elegant whitetail is a medium-sized deer with a long and slender neck, narrow face, fairly large ears and long, slim legs. The summer coat of short, sleek, solid hairs is reddish-brown in color. This changes in late fall to the gray or grayish-brown winter coat that consists of a woolly undercoat covered by hollow, brittle guard hairs. Whitetails usually have white rings around the eyes, a white stripe around the nose and chin, and a white throat patch. The underparts, inside of legs and rump are white. The large, bushy tail, which is brown on top with white edges, and all white beneath, has erectile hairs that flare out when the tail is raised as an alarm signal. The whitetail deer usually has low, compact antlers, befitting its life in dense undergrowth. In typical antlers, the main beams rise from the back of the head, growing backward and outward at first, then curving forward, with the tips turning inward over the face. A series of short, unbranched tines grows upward from the main beams. In addition, a single brow tine (“eye guard”) commonly occurs on each antler, but is not always present. The usual mature rack will have one brow tine plus two to four other tines per antler, which, when added to the beam tip, makes a total of 4 to 6 points on a side. (Four points per side equals an 8-point buck, six points per side a 12-pointer, eastern count.) It is possible to have more than six typical points to a side, but such racks are rare. Many whitetail antlers have non-typical tines as well as typical tines. Non-typical tines are those that grow from the side or bottom of the main beam, or from another tine, or from the burr, or that grow in an abnormal or non-typical manner. Females, except for an occasional freak, do not have antlers.

BEHAVIOR: Whitetails mate in the fall, usually during November, but breeding can occur from October to March, depending on locality. Fawns are born six months later, most often twins, but the range is 1-4. Life expectancy in the wild is 8 to 12 years if unhunted. Whitetails are normally active during early morning and evening, and again at midday if not harassed. They become nocturnal under high hunting pressure. This deer is mainly a browser and its home range is rather small. It uses the same trails and bedding and feeding areas for years if unmolested. Adaptable and tolerant of man, the whitetail is able to thrive in close proximity to human settlement. Hearing and eyesight are good, and sense of smell is excellent. Wary and alert, a whitetail can run 35 mph for a short distance or 25 mph for several miles. Horizontal leaps of 30 feet and vertical leaps of 8 1/2 feet have been recorded. The whitetail is an excellent swimmer. Whitetails are also native to the northern part of South America, but not counted from there for the Super Ten®/Super Slam®.

Super Ten®/Super Slam®: Information found here contains excerpts from the on-line and printed version of Safari Club International (SCI) Record Book of Trophy Animals and is used by permission. Visit www.scirecordbook.org.

Whitetail Deer Species Map

Whitetail Deer Range in North America: The map above is used by permission from the on-line Safari Club International (SCI) Record Book of Trophy Animals. Visit www.scirecordbook.org.