Adult white-tailed deer have reddish-brown coats in summer which fade to a duller grayish-brown in winter. Bucks are recognizable in the summer and fall by their prominent set of antlers, which are grown annually and fall off in the winter. Typically, only the bucks grow antlers, which bear a number of tines, or sharp points. Females are called does. Occasionally venturing out in the daylight hours, white-tailed deer are primarily nocturnal or crepuscular, browsing mainly at dawn and dusk. In the wild, white-tails, particularly the young, are preyed upon by bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes. They use speed and agility to outrun predators, sprinting up to 30 miles per hour and leaping as high as 10 feet vertically and as far as 30 feet horizontally in a single bound.
White-tailed deer, the smallest members of the North American deer family, are found from southern Canada to South America.
In the heat of summer, they typically inhabit fields and meadows using clumps of broad-leaved and coniferous forests for shade. During the winter, they generally keep to forests, preferring coniferous stands that provide shelter from the harsh elements.
During the mating season, also called the rut, bucks fight over territory by using their antlers in sparring matches. Does give birth to one to three young at a time, usually in May or June after a gestation period of seven months. Young deer, called fawns, wear a reddish-brown coat with white spots that help them blend in with the forest.
In the wild: 3-10 years
In human care: 6-14 years
White-tailed deer are herbivores, leisurely grazing on most available plant foods. Their stomachs allow them to digest a varied diet, including leaves, twigs, fruits and nuts, grass, corn, alfalfa, and even lichens and other fungi.