If you have ever visited the Northwoods of Wisconsin, you may have noticed that we have a lot of deer. In fact, don't quote me on this, but we might have more deer than people. Fine by me! I enjoy having them as year-round neighbors (except when they eat my plants). They are fascinating, family-oriented, ruminant creatures that grace us with their beauty on a daily basis. I thought I'd share with you what I've learned recently.
The White-Tailed Deer or Odocoileus virginianus gets its name from the highly noticeable white color of the underside of it's tail. This feature helps alert other deer about dangers, especially a mother's young. These animals are capable of seeing a wide range of colors in the blue and yellow family, but none in the red. Because of this, deer cannot see the bright orange clothing typically worn by deer hunters. Their antlers are the pride trophies of many a hunters wall and interestingly enough, a symmetrical set of antlers is actually harder to come by than you might think.
As a ruminant animal, deer have four stomach chambers allowing them to eat a wide range of foods such as shoots, leaves, legumes, grasses and plants. They enjoy english ivy, hostas, fir, arborvitae and daylilies. "They also eat acorns, fruit, and corn. Their special stomachs (also) allow them to eat some things humans cannot, such as mushrooms and poison ivy. Their diets vary by season according to availability of food sources. They also eat hay, grass, white clover, and other foods they can find in a farm yard." (source)
Unfortunately, the deer have eaten most of the plants I've tried growing around the resort, so this year, I did my research! It has been said that deer do not like bleeding hearts, daffodils, foxglove, peonies or lavender. Seeing as one of my favorite plants just happens to be bleeding hearts, you may see a few extra around on your next visit!
White-tailed deer are found as far north as Canada and as far south as South America; as east as the Atlantic Ocean and as west as the Rocky Mountains. They are highly adaptable, meaning they find ways to survive in many different climates and landscapes. They tend to forage in the forests during the winter and graze in fields and grasslands most other times of the year.
Breeding occurs from autumn to winter depending on the area. "Female deer, called does, give birth to one to three young at a time, usually in May or June and after a gestation period of seven months. Young deer, called fawns, wear a reddish-brown coat with white spots that helps them blend in with the forest." (source) Fawns stay with their mother through the first year with males leaving the "nest" sooner (almost a year sooner) than the young females.
"The life span of a white-tailed deer can be from 6-14 years in captivity. In the wild, the majority of deer don’t make it to that age because of disease, hunting and automobile collisions. The average life span for wild white-tailed deer is 4.5 years. (Lopez et al 2003)." (source)
As is common in the animal kingdom, males tend to be larger than females weighing in around 100-275lbs and 88-198lbs respectively. Fawns are roughly 44-70lbs within about 6 months. Adult size varies greatly based on the distance from the Equator. In colder climates, deer tend to be heftier whereas in warmer climates, they tend to be more lean. I guess that's why the hunters come to Wisconsin - more meat!
While some consider white-tailed deer a nuisance, and trust me, eating all my garden plants is annoying, I see them as graceful beings offering a pause from my busy day to enjoy nature's finest. Watching them leap and graze and rut and grow has always been a favorite pastime.
With so many deer making a home for themselves here at Nitschke's Northern Resort, you are sure to get a glimpse (and great photos) of them on your vacation -along with bald eagles, loons and fish if you're lucky! Here is Donny with the deer on the resort.
Call today 715-356-7795 to book a cabin for your chance to get up close and personal with our closest neighbors, the White-tailed Deer.