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White-Tailed Deer

Reddish brown to blue-gray or tan coloring; underside of tail is white, producing a "flag" when raised off the rump. Antlers on male primarily consist of main beam with tines growing from it. Maximum antler size occurs between 5-7 years of age.

Habitat and Habits

Range movements limited to one to three miles, depending on sex, age, and habitat. Herbivore. Lives up to 10 years. Male is polygamous with most whitetails in North America rutting in November. One to two spotted fawns typical.

  • Male Whitetail Deer
    Male White-Tailed Deer
  • Female Whitetail Deer
    Female White-Tailed Deer
  • Whitetail Deer Tracks

Mule Deer

Reddish coloring in summer and blue-gray in winter. Cream-colored rump patch with black-tipped cream tail. Ears are larger than the white-tailed deer. Antlers branch equally.

Habitat and Habits

Lives in forests, desert shrubs, thickets of shrubs, or trees; grasslands; plains, foothills; and river bottoms. Herbivore. Lives up to 16 years. Male is polygamous; rut runs Oct. - Dec. One to two spotted fawns typical.

  • Male Mule Deer
    Male Mule Deer
  • Female Mule Deer
    Female Mule Deer
  • Mule Deer Tracks

How To Distinguish Adult White-Tailed Deer from Fawns *

Fawns

  • Short, square bodies (look like a "briefcase" from a distance)
  • Short necks and less muscle development
  • Rarely have swaying backs or sagging bellies
  • Ears appear large in comparison to head

Adults

  • Larger, rectangular-shaped bodies (look like a "suitcase" from a distance)
  • Long necks
Distinguish adult deer from fawns

How To Identify Buck Fawns *

  • Presence of developing antlers
  • Head appears more flat and less rounded between ears
White-Tailed Buck Fawn

How To Identify Doe Fawns *

  • No developing antlers
  • Head appears slightly rounded between ears
White-Tailed Doe Fawn

* Courtesy of the Quality Deer Management Association

Antlers vs. Horns

Members of the deer family (which includes caribou, deer, elk, and moose) have antlers. Antlers are solid bone and are shed annually. They are one of the fastest growing natural materials in the world. Antlers grow from the tip while horns grow from the base. Except for caribou, only male deer have antlers.

Horns are found on bison, sheep, goats, and pronghorns. Unlike antlers, true horns are hollow and grow continuously. If broken, they do not grow back. They consist of a keratin sheath surrounding a core of bone. Female sheep have half-moon horns while rams have horns that are longer, heavier and curve around the sides of their heads. Female mountain goats have horns that are longer, straighter and thinner than Billy goats. The horn sheath of a pronghorn has characteristics of both antlers and bones, because it's made of keratin surrounding the bony core yet is shed annually.