|A White-tailed doe with her reddish-brown summer fur|
If you live east of the Mississippi River there is really no mistaking this species for any other animal - it is the only deer species found over much of its range. Michigan does have Elk and Moose, but they really can't be confused for White-tailed Deer.
Adult White-tailed Deer will stand 3 to 4 feet tall at the shoulder and be up to 7 feet long. They are covered with either reddish-brown (summer) or grayish-brown (winter) fur. Their winter coat is longer and coarser than their Summer coat. For the first few months of their lives, fawns' coats will be speckled with white spots; as they grow their winter coat this spotting disappears.
|A pair of fawns - note the spotted coat|
Male White-tailed Deer (bucks) typically have a pair of hard antlers growing from their brows. Antlers are not horns. Horns are a permanent growth with a hard bone core and an outer sheath made of keratin. Antlers are also made of bone, but without an outer keratin sheath. White-tailed Deer bucks shed their antlers every fall and regrow a new pair each summer. Initially, the antler is soft and covered with velvet. Over the coarse of the summer the antler hardens until it can be used as a weapon in contests of dominance with other bucks. Rarely, a White-tailed doe (female) will grow antlers.
|A young White-tailed buck with antlers in velvet|
|Skull of a seven-point buck|
White-tailed Deer are very adaptable. They like fragmented habitats with lots of edges - they adapt really well to habitats changed by human activity. There are (probably) more White-tailed Deer in North America today than before Europeans arrived here. Look for White-tailed Deer in almost any habitat type: farm fields, woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, parks, orchards, etc..