White-tailed Deer

Texas Junior Naturalists

(Odocoileus virginianus)

wtbuck.jpgWhite-tailed deer are found all over the United States. There are an estimated four million white-tailed deer living in Texas. They are often solitary animals but can be found in herds ranging in various sizes. White-tails eat mostly forbs (weedy plants) and shrubs, and can be found in wooded and brushy areas of the state. Deer do not migrate, but remain in an area around one square kilometer in size (about 7 square city blocks) year round.

White-tailed deer can be seen in many urban areas where deer overpopulation is a problem. Many homeowners feed the deer because they enjoy watching these browsers from their windows. The problem with feeding deer is that they can become a nuisance. Once they get comfortable eating the corn provided for them, they have less fear of humans and will eat landscape plants and garden vegetables. Deer love to eat the tender new growth of plants,often eating roses, and other favorite landscape plants. Feeding deer also leads to more fawns being born, and while that may sound desirable, it can lead to an overpopulation which usually means starvation for many animals. This is an issue many urban areas are dealing with today.

deertracks.gif Early September rut begins. Bucks (male deer) use their antlers to fight each other and win does (female deer). Only the bucks possess antlers. The rut season lasts for several months, the continuous fighting can be very hard on the bucks and can cause some to die. In the spring the bucks lose their antlers and begin to grow new ones, normally larger than the year before. Late spring and throughout summer is when the does begin to have their fawns. The fawns are brown with spots covering their backs. The spots create a camouflage for the fawn and protects it from predators. Often they are left alone for hours at a time, while the mother feeds. Sometimes fawns are found by hikers and others in the woods and thought to be orphaned or abandoned. Like most animals, deer mothers do not abandon healthy offspring. deer.gifThey are usually nearby and watching while humans carry the fawn away intending to "rescue" the baby. The best thing to do if you find a fawn in the wild is to leave it alone. They are very cute but they don't need to be rescued by humans, what they need are their mothers and when you go away, mother will return.