Featured image: Nick Trehearne

When it comes to big game hunting in North America, there’s no doubt that the whitetail deer rules the roost. The biggest reason for this is simple: with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, California, Nevada, and Arizona (the exception there being the Coues whitetail), whitetails exist in all the remaining states. In many of them, populations are booming, hunting seasons are long, whitetail deer can be hunted with a variety of weapons and good hunting can be found on public land as well as private properties.

Did I mention that they also eat mighty good?

How much do you know about Odocoileus virginianus, the whitetail deer? Here are 10 Fast Facts you may not know.


1. Name Game

They’re called whitetail (also white-tailed) because of the white underside of the deer’s tail, which it displays and wags when it senses danger and to communicate with other deer. The average tail length of a whitetail is about 10.5 inches

2. Baby Talk

A newborn fawn can stand in about 20 minutes, walk in one hour, run a bit in 24 hours and outrun a man in five days.

Related: Scientific facts about how deer see and hear

3. Feed Me

On average, a deer needs to eat about eight pounds of vegetation per 100 pounds of body weight, per day. A 150-pound deer needs to eat 12 pounds of food in a 24 hour period over most of the year.

4. Lazy Butt

Over most of the year, whitetails remain bedded for up to 70 percent of the day, usually feeding five times every 24 hours. Also, deer can defecate while bedded, but need to get up to urinate.

5. Just Like Us

Just like humans, an adult deer has 32 teeth. But a deer has no upper teeth in the front of its mouth; the space is instead filled with a hard-surfaced pad of gristle.

Related: Video: Can deer fight to the death? 

6. What Makes Antlers?

Large antlers result from three factors: nutritious food, increasing buck age and good genes. The shape, or configuration, of the antlers is strictly genetic.

7. Need A Shave?

Chin whiskers tell deer exactly how far from the ground their lips are when feeding.

8. Antler Growth

Adult buck antlers start to grow around the last of March or early April, and grow at the rate of about a quarter-inch per day. Younger bucks begin growing their antlers a little later and at a slower rate.

Related: Hunting whitetail deer in the rain

9. Strong Legs

A whitetail deer can jump up to nearly four feet high and 30 feet long. They can also run up to about 50 mph for short distances.

10. Extreme Weight Loss

During the rutting season, bucks will lose up to 25 percent of their body weight from the constant seeking and chasing of does. This weakens them going into winter, when they are very vulnerable to extreme cold and deep snow.

Read more of Bob Robb’s “Top 10 Tuesday” posts here.