...and now the moment of truth. How much do you know about whitetails?
1) Archaeological evidence reveals that both male and female deer used to have which body characteristic?
C. Whitetails evolved from Asian deer tens of millions of years ago, and some early species had canine teeth. Today about one in every 10,000 deer harvested has fangs.2) While looking for deer sign, you find a huge scrape, but no licking branch above it. What does this indicate about the buck that made the scrape?
B. Research has shown that the licking branch is just as important as the scrape in communicating with other deer, so finding a scrape without a licking branch indicates the buck probably won’t return to rework the scrape. While most (not all) scrapes are made at night, finding a scrape without a licking branch tells you nothing about when the scrape was made.3) What’s the most weight that an active breeder buck will lose due to rutting activity?
D. Biologists have found that not all bucks participate in the rut, but that active breeders will lose as much as 25 percent of their body weight.4) For antler velvet to come off, a buck must do what?
E. In late summer, a buck’s testosterone dramatically rises, causing antlers to harden and velvet to come off. Bucks don’t rub their antlers on things to remove velvet, but to work out aggression and strengthen neck muscles in preparation for fighting with other bucks.5) While scouting, you find a group of rubs made on the north side of several trees. What does this tell you about the rub’s architect?
B. Rubs made on one side of a tree tells you the buck was traveling in the opposite direction. So finding a rub line on the north side of trees indicates the buck was heading south.6) Since the 1960s, which disease has killed the most whitetail deer in the United States?
C. Today everyone is concerned about the impact of chronic wasting disease on deer herds, but hemorrhagic disease continues to pose the greatest threat. “More whitetails have been killed by hemorrhagic disease than any other viral disease,” said Dr. John Fischer, Director of the Southeastern Wildlife Cooperative Disease Study. “Outbreaks are common and occur in the South annually.”
And there’s no such thing as whitetail influenza!7) What is the size of a typical buck’s home range (where it spends 90 percent of its time)?
E. The presence of predators and availability of food, cover and estrus does all influence the size of a buck’s home range. But research conducted at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M (Kingsville) shows that, all factors being equal, bucks vary in how far they prefer to roam.8) When is the best time to hunt near a fresh scrape line?
A. Mature bucks make more scrapes than young bucks, and they make them right before the peak of the rut, or during the pre-rut. Don’t waste your time hunting a scrape line made after the rut.9) In any given year, what are your odds of harvesting a Boone and Crockett whitetail?
C. The Quality Deer Management Association did a study on the likelihood of a hunter bagging a trophy buck. Examining 10 years’ worth of a data, they found the odds were slim.
“In a hunter’s lifetime, he has a one in 7,638 chance of bagging a Boone and Crockett deer,” said Kip Adams, QDMA director of education for the North. “In a given year, the odds are 1 in 76,000.”
In comparison, the odds are greater that you’ll get audited by the IRS or fatally slip in the bathroom than bring home a B&C whitetail.10) According to Quality Deer Management beliefs, having a balanced sex ratio of adult (1.5 years old and older) females to males is critical to achieving a healthy deer herd and improving the quality of bucks. What’s the highest the sex ratio can become skewed in the wild?
B. “As long as the deer herd is reproducing and recruiting fawns, the ratio cannot become more skewed than about five does per buck,” said Adams. “Even in the absence of female harvest, 15-20 percent of adult females in the population will die each year from old age, vehicles, disease, predators, etc. And about 50 percent of fawns born each year are male, so the sex ratio gets an annual correction when fawns are recruited.”11) If a buck sustains a major injury to its right hind leg, how will the injury affect antler development in future years?
B. If a buck sustains a serious injury to a front leg, it typically affects antler development on the same side. But a serious injury to a rear leg affects antler development on the opposite side.12) Which color can whitetails see?
A. Whitetails can see short-wavelength blue light and moderate-wavelength light that they see as something between red and green. A deer’s color vision is similar to a human with red-green colorblindness — but they do see in color.
“Some people still refuse to wear blaze orange but wear blue jeans to their stand — which is the opposite of what you should do if you’re trying to go unnoticed by deer,” said University of Georgia wildlife biologist Dr. Karl Miller. “Deer pick up blue very well, but they don’t see blaze orange all that well, unless it has a shiny finish that reflects a lot of light.”13) On average, how many hours a day do whitetails sleep?
A. All mammals, including whitetails, sleep. Two of the foremost deer gurus, Charles Alsheimer and Dr. Leonard Lee Rue III, have found that deer rarely go into a deep sleep for more than a few minutes. A typical sleeping cycle for a deer includes 30 seconds to a few minutes of sleep, followed by a brief alert period, and then more dozing followed by an alert period. The cycle usually lasts about 30 minutes. Over a 24-hour period, it adds up to about two hours of real sleep.14) Researchers have found that baiting increases a hunter’s chances of harvesting which deer?
D. Many academic studies have shown that baiting improves a hunter’s odds of harvesting a deer. But as any hunter will tell you, not all deer are created equal.
“Baiting increases a hunter’s chances of killing a doe or a young buck — it doesn’t increase their chances of killing a mature buck,” said Dr. James Kroll of Stephen F. Austin University. “Most hunters set up right over bait, but most mature bucks don’t visit bait piles until after dark.”15) You’re tracking a wounded deer, and suddenly the blood trail ends. What does this tell you about your shot?
E. Many hunters think that a blood trail that abruptly ends means a non-fatal shot, when oftentimes it indicates the wounded deer doubled back on its tracks.
14 – 15 correct: You’re an official “whitetailologist!” Give yourself a pat on the back and then get back to hunting for a record-book buck!
11 - 13 correct: You’re pretty knowledgeable about deer behavior and biology, and how to hunt deer. But if you want to take your success to the next level, keep studying.
8 – 10 correct: You’re pretty average, and you’re probably taking a lot of average deer.
Below 8 correct: If there were a deer dunce cap, you’d be wearing it. Spend more time reading Whitetail Journal and in the woods observing deer, slacker!