These interesting whitetail facts are sure to make you a better hunter.
So you can imagine my excitement when I found The Private Life of Deer on Netflix. While not necessarily an outdoors show, it was filled with interesting whitetail facts that wouldn't normally be included in a typical hunting program.
Check out these 10 facts to learn something new about the creatures we spend so much time chasing.
1. Deer are nearly blind.
Whitetail have trouble seeing defined shapes, and can really only make out movement. To compensate, their other senses are heightened greatly. A whitetail's nose has 300 million olfactory receptors, compared with just 5 million in the human nose. They can pick out an odor from hundreds of yards away, which oftentimes means deer smell you long before you see them.
2. Deer population has exploded in the past 100 years.
One hundred years ago, there were less than 1 million deer in North America. Today there are more than 30 million. This population boom has occurred, in part, because humans create perfect habitat for deer, offering them safety and a wide variety of food that is easily available. Think you have a deer problem in your hometown? Maybe you should visit Cayuga Heights, N.Y., where there are approximately 100 deer per square mile, about 95 percent more than what is normal for a healthy deer population.
3. Deer spend most of their lives in a one square-mile area.
If you see a deer on your property, chances are it will be there for its entire life.
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4. Deer will eat almost anything.
Whitetail are known to eat 600 plant species, fruits, poison ivy, even twigs and bark. There are also reports of whitetail eating nesting songbirds. Whitetail are in the same family as cows and buffalo, which means these deer have four-chambered stomachs. They eat quickly and then bed down to digest their food. They cough up the food and then chew it again. To stay healthy, they must consume up to seven pounds of food a day.
5. "Deer in the headlights" is more than just a figure of speech.
This reaction that deer have to bright light has nothing to do with fear. When the bright light shines in their eyes, their visual cortex becomes overstimulated and their entire brain locks up. This can sometimes last for two to four minutes.
6. Deer antlers are the fastest-growing tissue on earth.
Antlers grow one inch every two days.
7. Deer can jump really high.
Of course you know they can jump, but did you know that standing flat footed, a deer can clear an 8-foot obstacle and even higher with a running start? That is some serious air.
8. Deer are attracted to roads for a reason.
Whitetail don't just hang out near roads because they like cars. There is actually a very logical reason for why they spend time there. When roads are paved, trees are removed from the sides of the road, creating an open area, which receives more sunlight. These sunlit areas generate more and better food growth for deer to eat.
9. Deer are highly intelligent and can learn.
In The Private Life of Deer, a biologist put 2D coyote decoys in a backyard that deer were frequently visiting. The deer were wary at first and did not go near the yard, likely out of fear of the coyotes. Eventually, however, they figured out the coyotes weren't real and continued feeding in that area, even going so far as to chew on one of the coyote cutouts.
10. The Key deer in the Florida Keys are crazy small.
These deer got to Key West from mainland Florida, and now are found on just two islands in the Florida Keys. As time has passed, these deer have gotten smaller, with adult males standing less than three feet tall at the shoulder and weighing about 80 pounds. There are only 800 Key deer left in the world.