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Hot on the Trail: The Tales of White-tailed Deer

Posted on October 5, 2015

Photographed by Chris Gray


Scientific Name: Odocoileus virginianus


Male deer, or bucks, are larger than their female counterparts, weighing approximately 200-300 pounds. Females, or does, generally weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. Their fur is a reddish-brown color in summer, and greyish-brown in winter.  Both sexes have white on their belly, muzzle, around their eyes, on the insides of their ears and legs. White-tailed deer have slender legs and small hooves.


Food Sources
In winter, deer feed on the buds and twigs of dogwood, willow, and aspen trees. This type of feeding off of trees is called browsing.  In summer, they feed on leafy plants growing on the forest floor, such as grasses, ferns, asters, and goldenrods.  They also eat berries, acorns, other nuts and mushrooms. White-tailed deer need to eat around 8 pounds of food each day to stay well nourished.
Deer can be found grazing in open fields and meadows at dusk and dawn.  During the day, they are usually bedded down in the forest. White-tailed deer are a common site within our city limits, especially in the neighborhoods that have large green spaces like Assiniboine Forest. Some people welcome their presence, while others consider them a nuisance.


White-tailed deer, along with moose, caribou, and bison all share one unique characteristic; they do not have any top front teeth! Instead they grind their bottom front teeth on the hard surface on the roof of their mouth.  This acts like a knife on a cutting board when the deer is biting off course vegetation.

-Ranger Rachel