Deer Habits and Habitats
Author: Georgia State Parks
Whitetail deer are extremely cautious and wary animals with highly developed senses of sight, smell, and hearing. When threatened with danger, they will often attempt to quietly sneak away. If seriously frightened however, a whitetail deer will often utter a loud, snorting or blowing sound, and then quickly run away while raising the tail upwards like a flag, exposing the white underneath as a visual alarm to other deer nearby. Bucks are primarily solitary animals except during the breeding season, also called the rut, when they actively seek out does for breeding. The breeding season usually takes place in November but in some areas it can be in September or December. Bucks rub their antlers against small saplings to mark their territory and also use them to fight with other bucks during the rut. After the breeding season, the antlers are shed and a new set begins to grow later in the following spring. Does often travel together, especially during the winter months, or a doe will often be accompanied by her young from the previous season. By late spring, the young deer begin to drift away from their mothers. Does give birth to their young in spring or early summer. The young deer, known as fawns, are almost scentless for the first few days of their life. White spots on a reddish brown coat help to camouflage the fawn on the sun dappled forest floor where it spends much of its time hiding from predators. The mother returns periodically to nurse the fawn until it is large enough to follow her about. Whitetail deer occupy a variety of habitats from forests to fields and swamps. They are most common where a variety of habitats are found, providing them with all their seasonal needs. Whitetails are herbivores, feeding on a large variety of plant materials such as tender young leaves, stems, shoots and when available acorns. Deer also seek out mushrooms and wild fruits and will feed on man's agricultural crops, such as corn and soybeans, often causing considerable damage.
Author: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Mule Deer Food Habits and Habitat
Deer are browsers, and rely on many differentplants for their nutrition. While shrubs and brush such assagebrush, bitterbrush, mountain mahogany, cliffrose,rabbitbrush, scrub oak and willow make up a major part oftheir diet, mule deer will eat a variety of plants. In fact,researchers have documented Rocky Mountain mule deerfeeding on close to 800 different plant species. Of these,over 60% are forbs (non-woody herbaceous plants such asdandelions), 25% are shrubs or trees, and 12% are grasses.Mule deer are selective feeders, and rarely concentrate onany single species.Feeding habits vary with the changing seasons, andmany researchers believe that mule deer have the ability topick and choose the plants with the highest nutritional valueduring each season of the year. From late spring to earlyfall, mule deer quickly gain weight and build up fat reservesby feeding heavily on succulent leaves of the plentiful forbsand grasses. In late fall, they feed primarily on the currentyear’s growth of leaves and stems of brush species. Duringthe winter and early spring when there is little ground forageavailable, mule deer are on a starvation diet of twigs andbranches. This dry, woody vegetation is difficult to digestand lacks enough nutritional value to maintain body condi-tion. During these periods of inadequate nutrition, mule deeruse stored body fat to survive. Studies of mule deer duringthese lean times show that an adult deer may lose up to 20percent of its body weight under these conditions, and thatmule deer may spend up to six months out of every year onthis type of low quality diet. Ultimately, winter survivaldepends on the weather, stored fat reserves, and the deer’sindividual ability to conserve precious energy