White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

White-tailed Deer


  • Average weight for bucks is 90 kilograms (200 pounds).
  • Does weigh about 60 kilograms (130 pounds).


  • Colouration changes from reddish-brown in summer to greyish- brown in winter.
  • Tail is broad and brown, fringed with white, and white underneath. When running, the tail is held erect, exposing its white underside, hence the name "white-tail."
  • Unlike mule deer, white-tails have no rump patch.
  • Buck’s antlers have unbranched tines extending up from single beams.
  • White-tailed deer are extremely wary, and when alarmed they move rapidly, bounding away in smooth, graceful leaps.
  • The white-tailed deer is Alberta's most abundant cloven-hoofed animal.
  • White-tailed deer are found in the prairie, parkland and southern boreal zones.
  • Their range is expanding westward into the foothills, mountains and northward further into the boreal zone.
Natural History


  • Typical habitat includes aspen groves, wooded river flats and coulees.
  • In addition to food, brushy patches also provide good cover, in which even the largest white-tail is difficult to see.


  • Diet includes:
    • Forbs
    • Choke cherry
    • Saskatoon and other shrubs.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • In Alberta, the rut, or mating season usually occurs in November.
  • One or two spotted fawns are born to each doe the following spring.
Conservation and Management


White-tailed deer are classified as Secure in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Current management


See details in the Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:

Similar Species
  • Mule Deer
    • Mule deer and white-tailed deer are similar in seasonal colouring and overall appearance, and both species possess excellent senses of sight, smell and hearing.
    • Antlers, tails and overall size help distinguish mule and white-tailed deer species from one another:
      • Antlers of white-tailed bucks have unbranched tines extending from single beams, whereas the beams of mule deer antlers divide into two equal tines.
      • White-tailed deer have a broader tail than mule deer, and lack the white rump patch.
      • White-tailed deer are slightly smaller than mule deer.
    • Unlike the wary white-tail, mule deer are often inquisitive. When alarmed and running, they often stop for a last look before bounding out of sight.


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Updated: Jun 1, 2009