Deer Family (Cervidae)
Measurement: Size: 190 cm/90-105 cm at the shoulder Weight: 90-135 kg
Description: In the Rockies, the white-tail deer is outnumbered by the smaller mule deer. Over the past decade, white-tail have been moving uphill, and have become a common sight in the mountains. Like the mule deer, they have a tawny coat with a light rump. Their tail is much bushier than that of the mule deer, and despite their name, is brown in colour. It is the underside of the tail for which this deer has become known. When startled, they raise their tail and reveal the white underside. This "flagging" as it is called, acts as a danger call to other deer in the immediate area.
Their antlers are also unique. The main branch (or tine) forks several times along its length. The antlers of mule deer form a y-intersection at each junction.
The most wide-spread deer in North America, the white-tail is found across the U.S. and southern Canada. While less common in the mountains than the mule deer, it is gradually becoming a more common sight.
They feed on many grasses, flowers and leaves during the summer months, resorting to browsing buds and twigs during the long winter months.
Like other members of the deer family, the rutting season takes place during September and early October. Fawns appear in the spring, making the winter a challenging time for the does. They must divert limited winter resources towards reproduction, and this may result in their being more likely to be selected by predators.
Notes: Poorly adapted to winter climates, white-tail deer 'yard' up during the winter. Quite simply stated, they move in groups, using trails to make winter travel less difficult. Unlike moose, who are well adapted to move through the deep snows of the mountains, deer are forced into a bounding gait with even a shallow snowpack. Very soon, the benefits of movement can be outweighed by the energy costs.
White-tailed Deer sightings
a guide to help you spot some
All Material © Ward Cameron 2005