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Black-tailed Deer

Deer are common in the region. The deer here are a subspecies of mule deer known as black-tailed deer.

They come out around dusk and dawn to feed in the edge areas, the transitions between forest and field. They may be active at mid-day as well. Deer are also commonly seen feeding in fruit orchards.

Their heart-shaped prints are easy to identify and common in many areas. The pointed end of the print indicates the direction of travel.

Deer scat is an oval pellet. The pellets are easy to recognize by the dimple on one end and the point on the other end.

Their large ears, from which mule deer get their name, can move independently.

When the young are born, they have spots and lack scent. This enables them to hide from predators. They spend a lot of time curled up on the forest floor, sleeping. The spots provide camouflage. The lack of scent means predators can't smell them. Fawns can walk when they are only a few hours old.

Because deer walk in a diagonal walk pattern, you can tell whether the track maker was a buck or a doe. Males tend to have wider shoulders, so the hind tracks (the ones on top) will fall to the inside of the line of travel. The doe's wider hips will cause the hind tracks to fall to the outside of the line of travel. This is true only when they are walking and only for diagonal walkers.

Bucks have antlers which are shed once a year. The antlers of black-tailed deer (and mule deer) are forked. They don't branch from one main beam like those of the white-tailed deer do.

Click here to see drawings of black-tailed deer tracks.

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Revised: 30 August 1997
Written by Kim A. Cabrera
Copyright © 1997 Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association