Life History of Whitetail Deer

Alabama white-tailed deer fawns are usually born during July, August, and September. However, in some scattered populations, fawns are dropped during May and June. At birth, white-tailed deer weigh only 4 to 6 pounds.

Fawns are born with a reddish-brown coat covered with white spots that allow them to blend naturally with patterns of sunlight and shade. This coat is gradually replaced by brownish-gray winter hair. Weaning usually occurs by 4 months of age, but fawns may remain with their mothers for more than a year.

In Alabama, bucks and does breed during winter, usually from late December through February. Bucks and does normally breed for the first time in their second winter. Much of the breeding by males is performed by older, socially dominant bucks. Consequently, younger males, though sexually mature, play a minor role in breeding.

Occasionally, on very good range, does conceive during their first winter and give birth when 1 year old. Does bearing young for the first time usually give birth to only one fawn. Thereafter, does typically have two fawns each year if the food is adequate.

Young bucks start growing antlers during their first spring when they are about 9 to 12 months old. The paired antlers are bony outgrowths from the skull. Growing antlers are supplied with blood vessels and are covered by hairy skin called velvet.

Antler growth is usually complete by late September. The velvet then dries and is sloughed or rubbed off. These hard, polished antlers are kept throughout the breeding season and shed during late winter. Growth of new antlers begins almost immediately.

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