The habitat for the white-tailed deer includes both tropical and temperate regions, as they are the most widely distributed and most numerous amongst all North America's large animals. The beautiful white-*tailed deer have reddish-brown coats in summer, which fade to a duller grayish-brown in winter. They have white in a band behind the nose, inside the ears, in circles around the eyes, over the chin and throat, on the upper insides of the legs, and beneath the tail. They wave their short tails from side to side when startled and fleeing, which is when a flash of white can be seen. Bucks (male deer) have intimidating antlers in the summer and fall, which they shed and grow back annually. They are usually between 6 to 7.75 ft tall, and weigh between 110 to 300 lbs. They have good eyesight and keen hearing, but mainly detect danger with their acute sense of smell.
Native to the United States, white-tail deer is present in mainland US, except a few states in the west and most of southern Canada. Their range extends throughout Central America to Bolivia. They can be found in (and can survive in) the big woods of northern Maine as well as in the deep saw grass and hammock swamps of Florida. They also live in farmlands, brushy areas, and even desolate areas such as the cactus and thornbrush deserts of southern Texas and Mexico. The most favorable habitat should contain dense thickets, which they can hide in, and edges from where they can graze for food.
Like most species of deer, white-tail deer are extremely agile, and can achieve speeds of up to 30 miles per hour when racing through the obstacle ridden terrain in a forest. Their ability to swim keeps them in good stead when fleeing predators, as they are often witnessed entering large streams and lakes to escape or visit islands. Nonetheless, it is common for them to live within a certain fairly small range (usually a square kilometer or less!) for an extended period of time. Winters do not effectuate migrations, but see the deer gathering together during heavy snowfall. They can be aptly described as nervous and shy. They are also primarily solitary (especially in summer), but herds of hundreds of does have been witnessed grazing together. They usually use the same pathways when foraging. A unit comprises a female and her fawns.
Most males mate in their second year, and often begin rutting (clashing of antlers) in September, consequently becoming preoccupied with obtaining mates. They usually fight each other for access to a particular female. Does usually come into heat in November and mating occurs from October to December. The gestation period is approximately 6 and a half months. The first litter is usually of one fawn, but subsequent litter have an average of 2 per litter (occasionally 3 or 4). The offspring are able to walk at birth, and feed on vegetation only a few days later. Mothers keep their young hidden for about four hours while they go looking for food.
There are probably somewhere between 10 to 15 million white-tail deer on the North American continent. They were excessively hunted by people, which caused their numbers to drop to a point of extinction in many areas at the turn of the century. However, restrictions on hunting and habitat management by cutting of climax forests, has provided them greater amount of brush and shrub, and their wild population has been fairly restored.