How Big Can a Deer Get?
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In North America, it is the whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) which is the most common. In fact, the whitetail deer is one of the largest of U.S. land mammals and are the most regularly hunted species of deer.
With muscular bodies, a keen sense of smell and super acute hearing, hunting them can be quite tricky. They are a remarkable creature which are just as beautiful as they are delicious. Although timid, the whitetail deer is a large and powerful animal, especially a male one, which won’t hesitate to use its strength to fight its way out of a dangerous situation.
How Big Does a Deer Get?
This really does depend on several factors. Generally speaking, the whitetail deer, especially the males, are large and muscular. They are the largest species of deer to be found in North America.
When a whitetail deer fawn is born, they stand tall around the 18 inches mark and will weigh between four and eight pounds. Although they are born relatively small, they soon begin to pile on the size and grow huge antlers.
The average adult male whitetail deer is between 80 to 100 centimeters tall, and the size of a female deer is typically the same. In terms of weight, the adult whitetail deer can easily weigh up to 300 pounds whereas the females are half as heavy at around 125 pounds.
What About a Deer’s Antlers?
Deer, and other antlered animals such as elk, go through a constant process of shedding and growing their antlers. Each year, the deer’s antlers will grow to a peak size before being lost, and the growth process starts over again.
The shedding of antlers takes around three weeks, and then the regeneration of them can be as long as an entire summer. After this point, the cycle repeats and the deer will lose its antlers again.
Interestingly, the deer’s antlers will always grow back largely the same as they were before shedding. It is only when a deer gets older that antlers will grow back differently – more disheveled and crooked – due to malnutrition and illness.
The shedding and regrowth processes are so complex that even biologists don’t fully understand how it works. Deer antlers are the fastest-growing animal tissue that we know of, and a deer can grow up to half an inch of antler tissue per day. If you need help weighing your deer catch, then be sure to check out our article on how to accurately weigh one.
Whitetail Deer Lifespan & Behaviour
There are few whitetail deer in the wild which live past the five-year mark. This is mostly down to predation from both other animals and human beings, however, there have been whitetail deer found in the wild which have been reported to be as old as 10 or 11 years. When they are domesticated, the whitetail deer can live for around 20 years on average.
Whitetail deer are very fast animals and can easily run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Over time, the timid nature of the whitetail deer has led to it evolving with long, strong and powerful legs so they can very quickly run away from predators. They are agile swimmers too, averaging speeds of around 15 miles per hour when waterborne. Their speed is largely helped by the average stride of 25 feet!
In terms of diet and feeding habits, they are very diverse. The whitetail deer is largely herbivorous, and they feed on over 600 different plants and bits of vegetation. Acorns, crops, grass, leaves, fruit and nuts are all viable sources of food for wild whitetails. Their teeth are specialized to help them cope with their diet, with sharp incisors which allows them to bite through tough bits of vegetation.