Physical Characteristics of Whitetail Deer

The long necks of white-tailed deer and the antlers of mature males give the appearance of an animal of considerable size, but deer seldom stand taller than 40 inches at the shoulder. In fact, most measure less than 36 inches tall.

Size and weight vary according to sex, age, nutrition, and genetic composition. Adult bucks may weigh from 65 to more than 200 pounds. Does generally weigh about two-thirds as much as bucks.

Deer have a keen sense of smell. They rely upon smell to detect danger, identify other animals, and locate food. Deer have large, cupped ears that can rotate, giving them an acute sense of hearing. Their eyesight, though not as well developed as other senses, readily detects movement over a wide field of vision.

Deer, like cows, have compound, four-chambered stomachs that allow digestion of plant materials. Initially, food enters the first chamber or rumen. From there, it may be regurgitated and chewed further as cud. The other three chambers are the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum, respectively.

Muscles and skeletal structure of deer are well adapted to running. Deer are capable of exceeding 30 miles per hour for short intervals. Weight is carried on the toes, and some bones of the feet are fused to extend their gait. Bones of the shoulders and front feet are encased entirely in muscle, adding greater flexibility to limb movement.

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