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The Incredible Whitetail Deer

Amazing animal has sensational senses

As thousands of deer hunters head to Kentucky’s fields and woodlands this November, I’ve put together some interesting facts about these amazing creatures. 

Let’s begin at birth. A whitetail fawn, Odocoileus virginianus, is born with spots as camouflage from predators. They are also born odorless so that predators cannot detect their whereabouts. A fawn can walk within just a few hours of birth and, at five days old, can outrun a human. As adults, whitetail deer can jump 8 feet in the air and broad jump more than 25 feet. 

A whitetail’s sense of smell is believed to be 10,000 times stronger than that of a human. They can smell danger hundreds of yards away and be long gone before you even knew they were nearby. Or you might catch a glimpse of a bounding raised white tail rapidly disappearing. That’s why it’s important to keep the wind in your face if at all possible while deer hunting and consider purchasing a scent product that can help mask human odor. 

Their sense of smell is so powerful that by rubbing his antlers against a tree, a whitetail buck can attract females from a good distance and discourage other bucks. A “rub,” which leaves a scrape mark on the tree, is a well-known tip to hunters that a buck is in the area.  

Their hearing is equally amazing. A deer’s tall ears are designed to gather slight sounds. Without moving their heads they can rotate their ears backward to pinpoint sounds behind them. A good tip is to avoid wearing clothing that rustles too much when you walk. Avoid dragging your feet through the leaves while walking. 

Eyesight is what a deer is least dependent on. Although its eyesight is better than a human’s in detecting the slightest movement, the deer’s color vision gives us at least one break. The blaze orange that we wear for safety is seen as shades of gray to a deer.  

If you can keep from being seen, smelled or heard, Kentucky is a great place to hunt deer. According to American Hunter magazine our state ranks second in the top 10 North American states and provinces for producing “monster bucks” since 2000, with 451 entries in the Boone and Crockett Club’s antler scoring system. 

Have a great deer hunting season, be safe and hopefully you’ll harvest one of those monster bucks with a huge set of antlers.

For more information on whitetail deer visit the website of the conservation organization, Whitetails Unlimited at  All Kentucky deer hunters born after January 1, 1975, must pass a hunter education course before hunting. The law requires that deer hunters and those accompanying them wear hunter orange on the chest, back and head. For Kentucky deer hunting regulations, go to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

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