White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

White-tailed Deer Hunting Canada. Discover where to hunt White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Also, learn to identify it and study its' physical description, Range, Habitat, Diet, Food Strategy, Breeding Habits, and Status.

Whitetail BuckPhoto By: Whwthunts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Provinces with White-tail Deer Hunting

Yukon Resident and Non-Resident
British Columbia Resident and Non-Resident
Alberta Resident and Non-Resident
Saskatchewan Resident and Non-Resident
Manitoba Resident and Non-Resident
Ontario Resident and Non-Resident
Quebec Resident and Non-Resident
New Brunswick Resident and Non-Resident
Nova Scotia Resident and Non-Resident

Range - Distribution and Habitat of Whitetailed Deer

White-Tailed Deer Range Map of Canada

White-Tailed Deer Range Map of Canada
  • Original map of canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Modified By: Canada-Hunts.ca

O. V. Ochrourus

This is the northwest white-tailed deer or the northern Rocky Mountains white-tailed deer. Its range is from the rocky mountains westward into British Columbia

O. V. Dakotensis

The Dakota white-tailed deer or Northern Plains white-tailed deer occupies a range from the Rocky Mountains (Alberta Side) eastward to basically the westward boundary of Ontario.

O. V. Borealis

This whitetail takes over on the western border of Ontario (where the Dakota Deer leaves off) and carries on throughout eastern Canada to CapeBreton

Northern (woodland) white-tailed deer (the largest and darkest white-tailed deer.  The O.V. Borealis Buck (male) will usually weigh 45 kilograms (100 lb) but in rare cases, bucks can weigh in excess of 125 kilograms (275 lb). Northern Ontario has recorded mature bucks over 180 kilograms (400 lb) in the northern reaches of its native range.


With a wide variety of habitats, meadows, forested woodlots, brushy areas and croplands are only a part of their varied habitats. The largest deer in Canada occur where the changes between summer and winter are usually moderate. Although most often thought of as forest animals depending on relatively small openings and edges, white-tailed deer can equally adapt themselves to life in more open prairie, savannah woodlands, and sage communities as in the South Western United States and northern Mexico.

In western regions of Canada, the white-tailed deer range overlaps with those of the mule deer. In the northern extreme areas of their range, their habitat may be shared with moose as well as areas that are exploited by elk (wapiti).

Selecting a Hunting Calibre for White-tailed Deer

Whitetail Vital Shot Placement for White-tailed Deer

Vital Shot Placement for White-Tailed Deer

Photo By: https://pixabay.com/en/white-tail-deer-portrait-wildlife-889134/ 

Modified by: Canada-Hunts.ca

White-tailed deer may be hunted at various ranges and you should expect to be shooting anywhere from 50 to 250 yards or even further. Deer in general, can be a little more resilient in harvesting. As in all cases shot placement and the comfort level that you have with your rifle are key factors, along with a high-quality hunting round.

The bullet you use must be consistent in its placement every time and expansion factor is key to a quick kill. I know that it is hard to go to the store and purchase good quality ammunition. In retirement cash resources are lower and the high cost of ammunition is hard on a limited budget especially if you don't reload. But, the benefits of knowing exactly what your bullet will do can not be under estimated.

I have read many times that the 30-30 has harvested more deer than any other caliber. Most of that is true because of the length of time that this round has been around but it does support the fact that you don't need a long range caliber to hunt deer. For the most part, most hunters are susceptible to flinching and for most hunters, any caliber that is close to the 300 caliber and has a lighter recoil would be a good choice. 

In reading deer forms and using experience with in my hunting groups. Bullet weight seems to be is all over the map with most hunters I know choosing a 120 - 150-grain bullet.

White-Tailed Deer Hooves

White-tailed Deer Hooves


  • 1.375 - 4 Inches (3.5 - 10.2 cm) Long
  • 0.875 - 2.875 Inches (2.2 - 7.3 cm) wide


  • 1.25 - 3.5 Inches (3.2 - 8.9 cm) Long
  • 0.75 - 2.375 Inches (1.9 - 6 cm) Wide

Trail Width

  • 4 - 10 Inches (10.2 - 25.4 cm)

Photo by: Robert Lemke - Canada-Hunts.ca


Look at the picture to the left Note that the front hoof of the buck is much larger than the rear. Also, note the difference in the dew claw which is larger and closer to the hoof than the rear.

This author has an opinion that there is a discernable difference between the front hooves and rear hooves of the deer family. The thought here is that there is a lot more mass with the antlers, shoulders, and neck area that the buck has to carry.

Thus the hoof on the front must be larger to support that extra mass. Note that the rear hooves of both male and female deer are similar in size for both the buck and doe. But the front hooves have a considerable difference that can be detected. I looked a six bucks taken the fall of 2016 and the results were all the same.

On average the track is: 1.375" - 4" long by .875" - 2.875" Wide

Tracks measuring more than 5 1/2 inches in length are those of fully mature bucks in their prime.


Whitetailed Deer Scat

White-tailed Deer Scat

Photo By: By US Foerestry Service - Flickr



Description of White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

White Tailed Deer Bucks Does
Life Span 10 years
Shoulder Height 90 cm 
Overall Length 4.5-7ft nose to tail
Weight 68-102 KG 45-73 kg.
Weight at Birth

1.81-3.62 kgs

Antlers Their antlers branch from a single main beam, as is the case with white-tails. Antlers are shed annually 1 in 1,000
Hearing They have smaller ears (than the mule deer) that move constantly and independently, Tests show that they hear 1 - 8 Khz. with a peak at 4 Khz. Their hearing is about the same as ours. It is their directional hearing that allows them to pinpoint unusual noises.

A Deer'vision is 5 times greater than ours.  They have better nighttime vision than humans, but less accurate daytime and color vision. They see yellow and blue but have problems with reds and greens.

Deer can detect slight predator movement up to 600 meters away, but they are not very good at detecting motionless forms.

Its field of view is 250 to 270 degrees.

Dental Formula I 0/3, Cc 0/1, P 3/3, M 3/3 with a total of 32 teeth
Body Temperature 37.2 °C 
Feet Ungulate
Can Travel 75 Kilometers per hours for short periods of time
Diet Herbivore
Sexual Maturity 1 Year 6-7 months
Breeding Time last three weeks of Nov.
Gestation N/A 195-210 days
Birthing N/A May or June
# in Litter N/A 1-3 fawns, generally 2
Weaning 72-102 days
Communication Deer communicate with the aid of scents or pheromones that come from several glands. The most important are the metatarsal (outside of lower leg), tarsal (inside of hock), and interdigital (between the toes). The metatarsal gland produces an alarm scent, the tarsal serves for mutual recognition, and the interdigital glands leave a scent trail when deer travel.


White Tailed Deer Identification

White-tailed Deer Identification

White Tailed deer Identification

Modified by: Canada-Hunts.ca

This deer is highly variable in size, generally following Bergmann's rule that the average size of the species gets larger as you move farther away from the Equator.

The inside of a buck's rack can be from 3 to 25 in (8–64 cm) and it is the buck that sports antlers which are shed once all the females have been bred. Generally from late December to February and are in turn regrow every year. The length and the number of branches on the antlers are determined by nutrition, age, and genetics. From late spring until about a month before shedding its velvet, the bucks' antlers develop. Any damage that the rack occurs during this time span will be permanent that year. The development of the antlers is more dependant upon its food source. Good antler-growth nutritional needs (calcium) and good genetics combined to produce wall trophies and generally it is not its age that produces impressive antlers. A better indication of age is the length of the snout and the color of the coat, with older deer tending to have longer snouts and grayer coats.

Diet and Foraging Strategy of Whitetail Deer

Whitetail Doe

Whitetail Doe 

Photo By: http://www.public-domain-image.com/

White-tailed deer eat large amounts of food, commonly eating legumes and foraging on other plants, including shoots, leaves, prairie forbs, and grasses. They also eat acorns, beech nuts, fruit, and corn. Their special stomachs allow them to eat some things humans cannot, such as mushrooms and poison ivy. Their diet may also include hay, grass, white clover, and other foods that may be found in a farmers field. Though almost entirely herbivorous, white-tailed deer given the need and opportunity will feed on nesting songbirds, field mice, and birds trapped in mist nets.

The white-tailed deer has a four-chambered stomach. The first two are the rumen and reticulum and the omasum and abomasums make the last two chambers. Food enters the rumen and reticulum first and is mixed with saliva and the food to be separated into liquids and solids in the form of cud that is brought back up and re-chewed along with more saliva. These stomachs allow the deer to eat a variety of different foods and later digest it at a later time.

During the winter they generally keep to forests, preferring coniferous stands that provide food and shelter from the harsh elements.

Breeding Cycle and Reproduction of White-tailed Deer

It is January, the New Year has come in and whitetail deer may travel in small groups, but the doe and fawn is the basic social unit. Bucks will be shedding their antlers soon (January to March). The older more mature bucks will shed first and the younger bucks later. New antler growth starts almost as soon as they are shed. For those of you who hunt trophy bucks, this time right up to into the month of April is a good time to search for those sheds and plan where you will place your trail cameras in order to scout for your next monster buck.

Late May and June sees fawning does birthing their fawns. In her first pregnancy, a female will usually only have one fawn, but after that she may give birth to 2 or 3. Fawns are able to walk at birth. If the doe has a year old fawn. It is at this time that she drives it away. Young bucks will leave their mother after only one year but young does often stay with their mother for two years. The new born fawn is reddish-brown in color with many small white spots when born. The fawn will stay with its mother during the summer.  

When looking for food, females will leave their newly born off spring in a hiding place for up to four hours at a time. While waiting for its mother to return the fawn(s) will lay motionless as shown.

Whitetail New Born Fawn

White-tailed Deer Fawn

Photo By: http://www.public-domain-image.com/

If you come across a fawn in the wild leave it alone. Although it may see to be abandoned it is not. The worst thing you can do is to touch it thus putting YOUR scent on the fawn and making it defenseless against predators.

At birth, fawns weigh 2 to 4 kg. The fawns begin to follow its mother once they are about 4 weeks old, they are nursed several times a day until they are 8 weeks old, after which they begin to add vegetation to their diet. Fawns are weaned by 10 weeks old.

The bucks over the summer are developing their antlers in velvet and it is the month of August that trophy hunters should be putting out their trail cameras to catch a sneak peak of a monster buck from the sheds collected in April.

Antler growth is regulated by testosterone and IGF (an insulin-like growth factor) that is produced in the liver. Ultimately the length of day light is what controls this growth process. Hardening of the antler is initiated by a rise in testosterone and the shedding of antler velvet. On the other hand, a drop in testosterone will trigger the shedding or casting of the antlers.  Late August and the month of September is the time at which the bucks are rubbing off their velvet and it is not uncommon for the bucks to eat the velvet.

The rut normally occurs in November. Bucks will compete for the opportunity to breed does by way of territorial Fighting. This sparring determines the dominance between the bucks as they attempt to copulate with as many females as possible. During this period they will lose physical condition because they rarely eat or rest during the rut. Many factors will determine how intense the "rutting season" will be and air temperature is a major one. Deer are subject to overheating or dehydrating any time the temperature rises above 40 °F (4 °C), this results in Bucks doing much less traveling in search of a hot doe. 

The does will be in heat for a period of a few days. Most breeding does are in their second year or older, though some females occasionally mate as young as seven months. The rut occurs between late October and early December, pregnant females have a gestation period of 195-210 days. 

Status of Whitetail Deer in Canada

Deer in Canada are relatively free of serious diseases or parasites. Although some provinces have started to conduct surveys and collect data about Chronic Wasting Disease. In much of their range their natural predators, such as the timber wolf, coyote, bobcat, and mountain lion, have been greatly reduced in number and infrequently exert substantial pressure on the deer. Fawns are highly susceptible to predation during their first few weeks after birth. The winter time can be a bad time for deer of all ages when the snow gets deep and forms a crust on which free-roaming dogs, wolves, and coyotes are able to travel on top of the snow, but the deer breaks through the crust. 

Although a series of severe winters may tend to shrink the range of the white-tailed deer in Canada, a few favorable years permit it to rebuild substantial populations and even extend its range farther northward. 

Deer populations remain healthy and grow rapidly if they have adequate food and shelter. Overpopulation of deer can leads to dwindling food supplies. That in turn, leads to malnutrition of the deer, even if there is heavy predation. Overpopulation can also do damage to their winter feeding range, depleting suitable browse species and sometimes preventing regeneration of valuable forest trees. Moderately heavy hunting is actually required to hold deer numbers in check while, at the same time, provides recreation and valuable meat. 

Surveys indicate that the legal harvest of white-tails in 1978 was 125 000 in Canada and 1 875 000 in the U.S. By 1982, the legal harvest in the U.S. had risen to about 2.6 million. 


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-tailed_deer
  • http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/mammals/white-tailed-deer.html#sid6
  • http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/whttail.pdf

Photo Credits - Background

In the Rain - Larry Smith - Flickr

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