About this Species 

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Name:White-tailed Deer
Family:Cervids (Deer and Elk)
Scientific Name: Odocoileus virginianus

Arkansas whitetails breed from late September through February with the peak breeding season in the north occurring from October through mid-November and in the south from late October through early December. The pregnancy, or gestation, period takes 6 1/2 to 7 months. Fawns are born from mid-March through June. Twins are the norm for older does, while young does usually give birth to a single fawn.

Deer less than a year old, called fawns, are characterized by white spots over a reddish-brown coat. A row of spots runs from each ear to the tail along either side of the backbone and occur randomly on the trunk. They act as camouflage, blending in well with dappled sunlight reaching the forest floor.

Bucks grow their first set of antlers as yearlings during the spring and summer. Antlers are made up of true bone, and growth begins in mid-March to April. As the antlers appear, they are covered with a soft coating of blood vessels and nerves called "velvet." Growth continues until August of September. At this time, bucks rub the velvet off on small trees, fence posts or the ground revealing the hard bone antlers. The size of the rack depends on age and nutritional uptake. A buck's first rack can be anything from spikes to a 10-pointer. Bucks don't keep their antlers year-round, and they are shed during January and February.

Adult deer have a thin, reddish-brown coat in the summer months that is shed during August and September. It is replaced with a thicker brownish-gray winter coat that is shed during April and June. Adult females, called does, attain maximum weight in about four years, averaging 100 pounds. Males, or bucks, take 5-6 years to fill out and average about 150 pounds. Adult deer stand about three feet tall from the ground to shoulder.

White-tailed deer inhabit open woodlands, brushlands, mixed pine and hardwoods, pine, forest edges and second growth deciduous forest. They favor thick vegetative growth on cutover and burned-over areas which provide a food source of succulent leaves, twigs and shoots from various shrubs and trees.

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Eric Dresser