A commonly hunted creature, the whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus), is located in the Americas and Southern Canada. They inhabit hardwoods, croplands, brushlands, and pasturelands. There’s an especially large number of whitetail deer in Virginia — a popular hunting destination. In fact, another common name for them is the Virginia deer. The state even has its own deer management plan to help manage the issue of overpopulation by allowing hunters to kill deer throughout the state ethically.
With many people traveling from all around the country for the state’s wide variety of games, it’s no surprise that the state’s largest caught whitetail deer is an absolute unit. Keep reading to discover the size of the record-breaking deer, as well as some common facts about whitetails.
Whitetail Deer Facts
Whitetail deer is of the Artiodactyla order, Cervidae family, and Odocoileus genus. There are between 35-36 million whitetail deer and at least 26 whitetail deer subspecies worldwide.
They’re often brown in color with — as their name suggests — a white tail. A group of deer is called a herd, and they happen to be excellent swimmers, which is usually how they flee predators. However, they also can run up to 30 miles per house and jump up to 10 feet high, which can help them get away from threats. They also have great vision and hearing and an incredible sense of smell that can identify nearby predators.
A deer’s biggest threat is mankind, but other predators include wolves, mountain lions, bears, jaguars, and coyotes. The beautiful creatures are herbivores, feeding on vegetation like corn, grass, clover, bark, and fruit. Additionally, they are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk. This is a common time for hunters to head out in search of the perfect target.
What Is the Average Size of a Whitetail Deer
The average weight of a whitetail deer is 150 pounds to 611 pounds, the average size is 1.7 feet to 3.9 feet, and the average length is 3.3 feet to 7.2 feet. For reference, whitetail deer are smaller than elk and moose and a similar height to a pony. Typically, these deer reach around 27% of their adult size by one year, 57% of their adult size by the end of their second year, and 80% of their adult size by the end of their third year. They reach their full adult size by around eight years of age.
What Is the Largest Whitetail Deer Catch in Virginia?
According to Virginia state records, the largest whitetail deer caught in Virginia was 257 4/8 inches. The deer was killed by James W. Smith.
Whitetail deer, also called Virginia deer, are extremely common throughout the state, with most of the animals inhabiting forests, croplands, open fields, rocky mountain tops, coastal islands, and even towns and cities. In fact, there are between 850,000-1,000,000 deer in Virginia, and the animal is the most popular game species in the state.
Due to their prevalence, it’s often difficult for Virginia to manage the population of deer. This leads to issues like damage to vegetation, highway/roadway safety risks, and impacts on natural ecosystems. As a result, the state created its Virginia Deer Management Plan, 2015–2024. The plan stresses the importance of active deer management, with hunting being the preferred population management method. However, it also ensures these measures are ethical and sportsmanlike and ethical.
What Is the Largest Whitetail Deer Catch in the World?
The largest whitetail deer catch in the world was 431 pounds field-dressed (likely over 540 pounds when alive/shot). The deer was shot in 1977 by Canadian bowhunter John Annett of Ontario.
Why Do Hunters Kill Deer?
Whitetail deer are common targets for hunters for a variety of reasons, including their size, abundant population, quality meat, and large antlers (in the case of bucks). Additionally, as is the case in Virginia, many hunters kill for recreational purposes and population management purposes. In other words, if there’s an overpopulation of deer, this can impact the region’s vegetation and road safety. Ethical hunting can eliminate these risks and concerns, as well as carry out a more ethical death for the deer than, for instance, a car accident. Rather than simply hunting for sport, many hunters also hunt for meat. Venison is nutritious and ensures hunted deer are being put to good use.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © NordKraft/Shutterstock.com
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