Monday, September 22, 2014

Dakota White-Tailed Deer

The Dakota white-tailed deer is one of a number of subspecies of the white-tailed deer. It is found in western and central Canada, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, North and South Dakota and western Minnesota. The Dakota white-tailed deer is typically lighter than the eastern subspecies and it is among the largest of the subspecies, along with the Northwest white-tailed deer and the Northern white-tailed deer. 

The white-tailed deer is found in most of the U.S., large parts of Canada, Mexico, Central America and into South America as far as Bolivia and Peru. I have always lived in areas of the western U.S. where the mule deer is found and so I don't have much experience seeing whitetails. 

The whitetail's coat is reddish/brown in spring and summer and turns to gray/brown in the fall and winter. Whitetail is kind of a misnomer. The mule deer actually has more white on the tail than the whitetail. The mule deer tail is all white except for a black tip, but it is much thinner. The whitetails tail is the color of the rest of its body, except for the outside edges, but is completely white on the underside and is much wider. When alarmed it raises its tail like a flag (Jody's pet deer in the Yearling was named Flag) and the white fur stands out like it has been raised by an electrical current. 
I saw this beautiful buck early in the morning on Oak Draw Road, a dirt road in the southern part of Custer State Park. 
Same buck near Oak Draw Road.
Although I've seen pictures that are otherwise, the mule deer face is generally white from the nose to the eyes. The whitetail's face is mostly brown like the rest of the fur, but has white rings around its eyes and nose. Other less noticeable differences are: (a) ear size - the mule deer ears are larger; (b) fur color - mule deer fur is more grayish/brown and the whitetail more reddish/brown, but whitetails get more gray in the winter; (c) body size - mule deer tend to be heavier; and (d) a whitetail's antlers will grow off of one main stem, while the mule deers antlers split in two directions, grow, split again, and so forth. These difference came from here
White underneath, including the jaw, and reddish/brown tail with white edges.
White rings around the eyes and white around the nose.
Again, white eye rings and white nose ring. 
We were in Custer State Park in South Dakota recently and it was there that I got the pictures of the whitetails. 
Female with two spotted fawns.


  1. While still large deer, these seem to be just a bit daintier than the mule dear, maybe just a little more aristocratic. I love your last photo with the fawns.

  2. I've seen far too many of these running in front of my car over the years. Can't someone teach them to stay off the road?