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Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

White-tailed Deer - Odocoileus virginianus

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3

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Copyright by Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, all rights reserved.
 
General Description
Coat grayish-brown in winter, reddish-brown in summer; underside of foot-long tail white; antlers consist of main beams, generally with three to five tines projecting upward; brow tines long; outside of lower hind foot has a small, teardrop-shaped scent gland; mature bucks weigh 250 to 275 lbs. on good range, does 160 to 180. Occupy small home ranges, do not migrate far; mostly nocturnal and secretive; solitary much of the time but form small groups in favored feeding areas; when alarmed or running, erect and wag their tails, causing white underside to flash.

General Distribution
Montana Range



Montana Distribution


Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 2214

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Uses summer range and winter range in western MT which may be 8.69 to 15 miles apart.

Habitat
River and creek bottoms; dense vegetation at higher elevations; sometimes open bitterbush hillsides in winter. In western MT, mature subclimax coniferous forest, cool sites, diversity and moist sites important in summer (Leach 1982). In winter prefer dense canopy classes, moist habitat types, uncut areas and low snow depths (Berner 1985).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Leaves, twigs, fruits, and berries of browse plants such as chokecherry, serviceberry, snowberry, and dogwood; some forbs during summer. Browse most important statewide, year-round; particularly so in winter. Graminoid use increases in spring, forb use in late spring and sometimes in fall.

Ecology
Different habitat selection reduces potential of Mule Deer and White-tailed Deer competetion. Cattle may compete if using river bottom browse heavily (in central MT). Extensive large clearcuts reduce winter range.

Reproductive Characteristics
Breed mid-to late November; one or two reddish but white-spotted fawns; bucks do not gather in harems; necks of rutting bucks swell (but less so than Mule Deer); healthy adult bucks shed antlers in December or January; does usually breed first as yearlings in Montana (16 to 17 months). In western MT breeds late November to early December. First breeding produces single fawns, twins thereafter. In Swan Valley mean fetal rate/pregnant does is 1.5 to 1.6, average annual recruitment 29%.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • Adams, L. 1947. Observations on deer and hunters in the Fisher River district, Montana. USDA For. Serv., No. Rocky Mountain Exp. Sta. Res. Note 48. 4 pp.
    • Adams, L. 1951. White-tailed deer browsing on natural conifer seedlings. USDA For. Serv., No. Rocky Mountain Exp. Sta. Res. Note 105. 3 pp. (multilith)
    • Adams, L. 1951. White-tailed deer browsing on ponderosa pine plantations. USDA For. Serv., No. Rocky Mountain Exp. Sta. Res. Note 89. 5 pp. (multilith)
    • Adams, L.W. 1951. White-tailed deer browsing on ponderosa pine plantations. Missoula, Montana: Northern Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. Research Note 89. 5pp.
    • Aiton, J. F. 1938. Enlarged spleen in whitetail deer at Glacier National Park. Trans. N. Am. Wildl. Conf. 3:890-892.
    • Aiton, J. F. 1938. Relationship of predators to white-tail deer in Glacier National Park. Trans. N. Am. Wildl. Conf. 3:302-304.
    • Allen, E. O. 1965. Food and range use habits of whitetail deer on Missouri River bottomlands in Northcentral Montana. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 41 pp.
    • Allen, E. O. 1965. White-tailed deer food habits, and relationships to mule deer, livestock and agriculture on Missouri River bottoms. Big Game Res. Proj. W-98-R-5 Final Rep. 41 pp.
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    • Urban, Larry, 2002, Biological Resources Report: Wagner Pit Wetland Restoration Site. Proj. No. STPX 56(50) CN 4645. February 23, 2002. In Wgner Pit WS#13 Upper Yellowstone, Yellowstone County. Fin. Dist. 5 AdminDist 5.
    • US. Dept. of Interior Geological Survey, 1977?, Draft environmental statement: Proposed 20-year plan of mining and reclamation, Westmoreland Resources Tract III, Crow Indian Ceded Area, Montana.
    • USDI Fish and Wildlife Service., 1961, A Detailed report on fish and wildlife resources affected by McNamara Dam and Reservoir, Blackfoot River Project, Montana. June 1961.
    • USDI National Park Service., 2000, Bison Management for the State of Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Interagency Bison Management Plan for the State of Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Vol. I. August 2000.
    • VTN Colorado, Inc. Decker Coal Company., 1975, Draft environmental impact assessment for the proposed North Extension of the West Decker Mine.
    • VTN Environmental Sciences, Sheridan, Wyoming for Montana Dept. of State Lands, 1973, Environmental Analysis Decker Coal Company Mine, Decker, Montana.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1988, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1988 Field Season. December 1988.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1993, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; 1992 Field Season. December 1993.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1995, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana:1994 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1993 - November 30, 1994. February 27, 1995.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1996, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: 1995 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1994 - November 30, 1995. February 28, 1996.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 2000, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: 1999 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1998 - November 30, 1999. February 2000.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 2001, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: 2000 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1999 - November 30, 2000. March 30, 2001.
    • Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1984, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1983 Field Season. June 1984.
    • Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1985, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1984 Field Season. October 1985.
    • Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1986, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1985 Field Season. December 1986.
    • WESTECH Env. Services, Inc., Helena, MT., 2000, Reconnaissance of wildlife and fisheries resources at the Ruby Garnet Alder Gulch property. May 24, 2000. In Application for an Operating Permit and Proposed Plan of Operations, Alder Gulch Mine Project, Madison County, Montana. Appendix J: Wildlife Reconnaissance. Cominco American Resources, Inc. Assisted by Hydrometrics, Inc. Prepared for Montana Dept. of State Lands. [June 6, 2000].
    • Westech, Inc. [Western Technology and Engineering]. No date. Preliminary wildlife reconnaissance, Ruby and Little Ben mine areas, Little Rocky Mountains, Montana. Technical Report for Zortman and Landusky Mining Companies.
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1981, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1981.
    • Western Technology & Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH)., 1991, 1991 Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 Terrestrial Wildlife Monitoring Study. In Meridian Minerals Company Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 Permit Application, Musselshell County, Montana. Vol. 7 of 14: Section 26.4.304(10): Text. Appendix 304(10)-8. January 31, 1990.
    • Western Technology & Engineering, Inc., Helena, MT., 1995, Golden Sunlight Mines, Inc., Permit Amendment Terrestrial Wildlife Reconnaissance. Phase 2, Final Report. November 1995.
    • Western Technology and Eng., Inc., 1991, Wildlife resources of the Little Rocky Mountains Environmental Study Area. March 1991. In Application for Amendment to Operating Permit No. 00096, Zortman Mining, Inc., Phillips County, Montana. Vol. 3. Jan. 3, 1995.
    • Western Technology and Eng., Inc., Helena, MT., 1996, Terrestrial Wildlife Reconnaissance: Stillwater Mining Company Hertzler Tailings Facility and Tailings Line, 1996. October 1996. In Stillwater Mining Co. Mine Waste Management Plan Amendment to Permit #00118 Supplemental Baseline Reports: Terrestrial Wildlife, Vegetation, Soils, Land Application Disposal, Waters of the U.S. January 1997.
    • Western Technology and Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH)., 1989, Wildlife monitoring: Absaloka Mine Area Annual Report, 1989. 12/21/88-12/20/89. Montana SMP 85005 R1. OSMP Montana 0007B. Febr. 15, 1990.
    • Western Technology and Engineering, Inc., Helena, MT. For Hydrometrics, Inc., Helena, MT., 1985, Reconnaissance of terrestrial wildlife resources in the vicinity of the Willow Creek Mine, September, 1985. October 31, 1985. In Operating Permit Amendment Application and Reclamation Plan for Willow Creek Talc, Inc. Proposed Operation Near Alder, Madison County, Montana (Willow Creek Talc, Inc., Alder, MT.)
    • Western Technology and Engineering, Inc., Helena, MT., 1989, Reconnaissance of the wildlife resources in the vicinity of the Kendall Venture Mine. January 1989. In Kendall Venture North Moccasin Project: Amendment to Operating Permit 00122, Fergus County, Montana. Vol. 2, App. A, Feb., 1989.
    • Westmoreland Resources, Inc., 1992, Mining and Reclamation Plan for Absaloka Mine. Book G. Wildlife. Vol. 2. Exhibit G-17. 1991 Wildlife Report. Wildlife monitoring and additional baseline inventory: Absaloka Mine Area (Western Technology and Engineering, Inc. [WESTECH], 1992).
    • Westmoreland Resources, Inc., Hardin, MT., 1983, 1980 Wildlife Monitoring Report. 12/21/79-12/20-80.
    • Westmoreland Resources, Inc., Hardin, MT., 1983, 1983 Wildlife Monitoring.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Circle Mitigation Site, Circle, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.021. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Crackerbox Creek, Glendive, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.022. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Lavina Wetland, Lavina, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.030. February 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Ridgeway Wetland Complex with Full Sampling of #9 Ekalaka, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.025. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Ryegate Wetland, Ryegate, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.030. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Vince Ames, Red Lodge, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.033. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Wyola-Sunlight Ranch Wetland, Wyola, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.035. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Wood, A. K., R. J. Mackie and G. L. Dusek. 1990. Statewide trends on white-tailed deer distribution, fawn recruitment and harvest. Pp. 26-42 in D. Prellwitz, comp., Proc. Montana Chap., The Wildl. Soc., Lewistown. 43 pp.
    • Zackheim, Karen, 1973?, Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.
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White-tailed Deer — Odocoileus virginianus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on April 20, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/detail_AMALC02020.aspx
 
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