Color Variation in Whitetail Deer

Although most whitetail deer look very similar, there are color variations. In fact, there are seasonal color variations as well as genetic color variations. Two seasonal molts produce two distinctly different coats. The summer coat consists of short, thin hairs that are reddish-brown in color. This coat is molted in August and September and is replaced with the winter coat, which consists of longer, hollow grayish brown hairs over a short wooly undercoat. The hollow hairs and the wooly undercoat provide significant insulation against cold winter weather. The winter coat is replaced by the summer coat in April and May.

A deer’s belly, chest, throat, and chin are white throughout the year. The coats of newly born fawns are reddish-brown with several hundred small white spots. This spotted coat helps conceal them from predators. A fawn’s spotted coat is replaced by the brownish-gray winter coat at approximately three to four months of age. Deer with aberrant color phases are not uncommon in Alabama. A pure white (albino) or black (melanistic) deer is indeed rare. However, harvests of piebald deer are fairly common throughout Alabama. Piebald deer are characterized by having an almost all-white coat with some brown splotches present.

Whitetail deer have a reddish brown coat in spring and summer; brownish gray in fall and winter. Whitetail bucks have antlers with points that normally grow upward from an unforked main beam. Whitetail deer fawns average five (5) pounds in weight at birth. By age four (4), whitetail deer reach full size. Mature whitetail bucks weight from 175 to 250 pounds in weight and measure five (5) to six (6) feet in length from nose to tail. Whitetail bucks may live as long as ten (10) years. Whitetail does may live a long as twenty-two (22) years. Whitetail deer have excellent sense of smell and night vision. Whitetails have very good hearing and daytime vision also.

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