White-tailed Deer

white tailed deer doe and fawnOdocoileus virginianus

The white-tailed deer is one of Minnesota's most popular big game animals. It is found in every Minnesota county and adapts well to most surroundings. Whitetails have an excellent sense of smell and hearing.


General description: The whitetail is a large brown or gray mammal that has a white tail it lifts and waves when alarmed and running.

Length: Whitetails are 4 to 6 feet long, have a 6- to 12-inch tail and stand 2 to 3 feet tall.

Weight: Males weigh 100 to 300 pounds; females weigh 85 to130 pounds.

Color: Reddish brown in summer and grayish brown in winter.

Sounds: Snorts, grunts and bleats.


white tailed deer buck in velvet


White-tailed deer mate from November to early December. Their young (often two fawns, weighing eight pounds each)

are born seven months later. Fawns have white spots that remain for three to four months. Fawns remain with their mother and nurse for several months. During the mating season, male deer (bucks) travel widely in search of females (does). Bucks also scrape small patches of ground on which they urinate. These scrapes may tell bucks that other bucks are in the area.


White-tailed deer eat many foods, such as acorns, corn, soybeans, mushrooms, grasses, tree leaves, buds, twigs and bark, wild grapes, apples and assorted shrubs.


Wolves, coyotes, bears, and bobcats hunt and eat whitetails.

white tailed deer fawn

Habitat and range

White-tailed deer live in prairies, forests, swamps, wood lots and agricultural fields. They are common in both suburban and rural areas. Sometimes they are a traffic hazard. During harsh winters, deer may also become a nuisance to farmers by eating hay or corn that is stored for livestock.

Population and management

After the young (fawns) are born each spring, there are between 900,000 and 1,000,000 deer in Minnesota. The hunting season is important to keep the deer population from getting too large. Each year, Minnesota hunters harvest between 150,000 and 200,000 deer. Read more at the deer management page.

Fun facts

When alarmed, whitetails fan their ears and raise their tails, as though raising a white flag. This is a signal to other deer that danger is nearby.