Whitetail Deer - Get to know your animal

The whitetail is the most abundant species in the United States.

Without a doubt, this is the number one most popular game animal in North America. The whitetail deer range stretches almost coast to coast in the U.S. and southern Canada, and south to parts of Mexico. Hunters everywhere enjoy the chase and the difficulty in pursuing these game animals, trying to defeat their amazing nose, vision, and hearing. With few natural predators, deer populations can soar in some areas causing local municipalities to sponsor off-season hunts just to control their numbers.

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Get to Know the Whitetail Deer


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Whitetail Deer Stats

Height: 1.7 – 3.9 ft. (Adult, At Shoulder)

Speed: 30 mph (Maximum, Adult, Running)

Trophic level: Herbivorous Encyclopedia of Life

Length: 3.1 – 7.2 ft.

Mass: Male: 150 lbs (Adult, In Summer), Female: 100 lbs (Adult, In Summer)


Characteristics of Whitetail Deer

Their characteristics include an average adult weight of around 150-200 pounds for a buck, and around 90-150 pounds for an adult doe. Deer are generally a like tan to a reddish-brown color in the warmer months, turning to a more gray-brown in the colder months. When alerted, the deer’s name comes from the white on the underside of its tail, which shows as it is running away from you!


Probably our favorite animal to hunt, the whitetail (white-tail) deer is a ruminant of the family Cervidae. Other animals that we hunt, such as the bison and the bighorn sheep, are also ruminants. This fact allows deer to eat certain foods, like woody plant material, that other creatures cannot consume. Deer are also infamous for making use of anything and everything that good farmers and well-meaning garden grower have to offer such as, corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, and just about whatever crop that they can reach and try to take a bite out of. 

Range of the Animal

Whitetails can be found in most of North America, including southern Canada, although they are not found in Alaska, Hawaii, or the American southwest. Their home area can be anywhere from one to five square miles of natural cover with fawns—born in the spring—staying with their mothers, usually until the next breeding season. Bucks will remain in “bachelor” groups, except during the fall rut, when they will become more solitary, only coming together to fight over breeding rights to does which are coming into heat.

Lifecycle and Breeding

The whitetail deer generally breed in the fall when the adult does come into estrous. This can occur anywhere from early October to November, continuing sometimes into December and January. In the spring (usually around June, depending on the region) does give birth to their fawns, many times twins. Female fawns tend to stay with their mothers for about two years while males, or button-bucks, will leave after the first season.

The Deer’s Habitat

Deer generally live in natural wooded and brushy areas, but are well adapted to live in more urban areas, even becoming a big problem for some localities. In places like the upper-mid-west and Canada, predators such as the grey wolf and the cougar can be the main predator of the whitetail deer, but it is mostly humans who take most of them in the name of population control and meat. A deer population can adapt itself easily to woods, parkland, farm fields, swampy regions, and grasslands, becoming especially successful living near their most dangerous predator: humans.


Whitetail bucks will fight, sometime to the death, over breeding rights, but are easily alarmed and will run, swim, and leap their way out of danger to avoid it. This includes all deer as the older, matriarchal does will lead small groups out of danger when it comes near due to her fantastic sense of smell, hearing, and sight. During the open hunting seasons around North America, the whitetail deer are famous for avoiding hunters due to these famous senses, even discontinuing their daytime movement in an effort to survive. 

Hunters and other who eventually come into contact with deer must remain aware of the fact that they are known to carry ticks, which, when they bite humans can transfer Lyme Disease and its awful effects. 

Hunting Whitetail Deer

The Top Five States to Hunt Deer in the US.

1. Texas 

2. Georgia

3. Michigan 

4. Pennsylvania

5. Wisconson

While whitetail are spread across most of the United States, each state may bring to the table different hunting experiences.  You can go North and sit in the snow and take a 250lb trophy, go down to Florida and swat mosquitos white stalking a solid 10 point, and everything in between.  No matter the state, these tips can make you a better deer hunter. 

Deer Hunting Tips


Bedding Areas


You have to understand your heard to really know how to hunt them.  A part of this involves knowing where the deer are bedding.  To figure this out set up trail cameras around the feeding areas and see which direction they enter and exit from.  Explore the property before the season and check out saellite images.  You are looking for areas of dense cover where they can feel safe. If you put in the time, you'll be able to narrow down a good area where they likely bed.  Now don't go back.  Unless you're in the midwest and stalking your deer over mountains of property, you want to give the deer a reason to stay near by.  Give them a safe, no pressure zone.  If you know the deer like that area and make their way back there after they eat, you can take advantage of that.  You can hunt the areas they travel through to get from the food to the bedding area.  This is when you catch the big boys slipping.  They'll usually eat when its dark and bed during the day so around sun up or sun down you can catch them starting their journey back and forth.


The Rut


Figure out when your rut is.  This is the time all hunters want to be in the woods because they all hear that that is when the bucks get active.  It's true, the big bucks will slip up when they're trying to mate and trying find does before other bucks do.  Be in the woods during this time.  It's different for ever area but it's easy to tell the time is coming.  You'll start seeing more tracks everywhere.  Scrapes and rubs will start showing up giving away where they real bruisers are working.  Use this information to your advantage and be there when they show up.


When are deer active


People say you can't kill a deer laying in bed. That's true and for the average working person, you're best off going when you can.  This usually translates to the weekends and holidays.  That being said, if you get to choose, there are times when deer are more active.  


First off, deer are most active early in the morning and late at night when there is less light.  They feel more protected during this time so they'll be a little less timid when moving around.  This is also usually when they transition from bedding areas to feeding areas. So make sure you get to the stand for those important hours off the day.


Expert Tip - Get a scope with a wide lens if you're hunting with a rifle.  The light it lets in could buy you a few game chaning minutes in the morning or evening.


The theory that the moon affects when you should deer hunt can be defended from every angle.  The most common belief that we trust is that deer are active with the moon is directly overhead and directly beneath your feet.  Something about the gravitation pull and their interal timeline has given this theory a lot of back up. It works.  Give it a try for yourself and use this to pick when you should be in the stand. 


The last strong theory is to be in the stand when the Barometric pressure hits 30. If there is a weather system moving through and the barometric pressure is changing you'll want to be in the woods.  The deer feel it and know they either need to hunker down or they're finally free to get up and feed.  They don't like to move around during severe weather systems catch them beofre or after one.


Food Plots


Having well kept food plots is a critical part to any hunting property.  During hunting season and winter, food becomes sparse so it provides much needed nutrition.  This also gives you a a way to narrow down where they'll be moving. If you found where they bed, and you know where they'll be eating, it makes it easy to pick where to hunt. Having year round plots on your property also helps improve the quality of the deer.  Animals only live and reproduce where they can find food having the food will help to grow your heard.  Deer, who regrow their antlers every year, need a lot of protein to recover from the rut and grow the next big set of horns.  Providing plenty of food throughout the year will make sure your deer can reach their true potential.