Length: 2.5–8 feet; weight: 90–311 pounds
White-tailed deer are such a sight to behold. When you come across a majestic buck or a doe with a fawn at her side, you can’t help but stop and marvel at the spectacle. Once you spot a deer, you may just get to see the white undersurface of its flaglike tail as it bounds for cover in the nearby woods, but it’s still an experience like no other. In Missouri, we are fortunate to have a thriving deer population.
The peak of the mating season is November, and most young are born in late May or early June. A doe usually has twins, each weighing 4–7 pounds. The young accompany the female until they are old enough to breed. About half of the young females in Missouri breed the year of their birth, while others breed at 1½ years of age. Deer are in the prime of life between 2½ and 7½ years. Deer can live for 15 years in the wild.
Deer are browsing animals, eating the leaves, twigs, and fruits of trees and shrubs, and the foliage of soft-stemmed plants. They also take seeds, fungi, mosses, lichens, succulent grasses, farm crops, and sometimes small amounts of animal food, like snails and fish.
As deer nip off buds and branches, they encourage denser growth on those plants.
Deer were essential to Native Americans and early settlers, providing food, hides, sinews for bowstrings, bones for tools, and much more.
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