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White-tailed deer are one of the most wide-spread and recognized wildlife species across all of North America. In recent decades white-tailed deer populations have increased significantly and because of this increase they have learned how to successfully live near people.


Adult deer weigh 50-400 pounds, grow to be 4-6 feet in length and stand 3 to 3-1/2 feet at the shoulder and the males are larger than females. Males, called bucks, grow antlers that are shed each year, and females, called does, do not grow antlers. The white-tailed deer have a summer coat that is reddish-brown with a white underbelly and tail and their winter coat is brownish-gray.


White-tailed deer breed from mid-September until late February, although peek breeding season is usually in November. They have a 200 day gestation period and fawns are typically born in early summer. Young female deer usually produce one fawn, while older females may produce twins, especially if food is plentiful.

Males shed their antlers in the winter, typically late December, and new growth begins immediately after the antlers are shed. Growing antlers are covered with a soft velvety skin and are easily bruised and damaged. When growth stops the velvet layer dries up and the deer rubs the velvet layer off, revealing a smooth polished antler. Deer antlers mature very quickly over a period of 3-4 months. Each year the male will produce a lager pair of antlers than the year before.


White-tailed deer typically live at the edges of woodlands that meet up with fields or meadows. Because of their high numbers deer are also successfully living in suburban areas feeding on lawns and gardens, and living in park areas. White-tailed deer are most active early in the morning and in the early evening hours. They feed on a variety of vegetation including weeds, grasses, crops, leaves, twigs and buds.

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Prevention and Control

For the best prevention and control measures, consult Missouri Department of Conservation guidelines.

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